The vision of remote working pre-pandemic: No commute in the morning, all the snacks you need, and pyjama bottoms all day, I mean what could get better than that?
The reality: Remote working has been a difficult transition that has come with its challenges, to say the least.
So, as the world of office-based working might never be the same again, here are some tactics that could help make your working day easier, from a marketing agency that had remote working in place pre-pandemic.
1. Create a dedicated workspace
Though It can be tempting to work off your sofa or even your kitchen table you run the risk of not being able to separate work from home once the day is done. Whether it’s a desk in the corner of your lounge or better yet turning your spare bedroom into an office, having a dedicated space for work only will help to boost productivity and give you that sense of ‘leaving the office’ when the day is done.
TIP: Make sure the lighting is good (especially if you’re staring at a computer screen all day) and save your back from a headache with a good office chair – getting the ergonomics right will work wonders for your wellbeing.
2. Recreate your coffee morning break
For a lot of people, speaking to their co-workers is a treasured part of the workday. So it’s no surprise that 20% of workers reported loneliness as the biggest struggle of remote working. It’s therefore important to take daily practices from office life to the home. Here at Isoline, we get together every morning at 9:30am for a coffee and catchup over zoom. This half an hour call instils a bit of normality to the start of the day and gives us a chance to find out what everyone is wearing / doing / working on that day, which takes us on to our next tip.
3. Prioritize your day before it begins
When you know what needs to be tackled each day, it’ll become much easier to manage your day, week, or month ahead. Documenting your workload into manageable chunks will also lead to higher rates of productivity. As a team we map out our tasks before our morning call, splitting them into high and low priority for the day. We share with the team on our morning call, allowing time to allocate amongst the team if needed and ensure workloads remain manageable.
TIP: Prioritise your high-value tasks when you are at your most productive. If you’re a morning person, leave all your hefty tasks to do first thing and leave your afternoon open for client calls and more routine tasks.
4. Remember to stay in touch with the team
In an office environment people are usually used to receiving immediate validation on project progress, so having technology in place such as Google Drive, Asana, meeting tools like Zoom or shared boards on Trello or Monday is a great way to work in harmony, keep track of assignments and notify any team members on progress. When we say keep in touch, this also means encouraging group chats that aren’t always work-related. You would be surprised at the number of gifs that fly through our Isoline Slack chat on a daily basis!
5. Take breaks and get outside
Before you know it it’s 5 pm, you’ve spent all day behind your laptop and have only taken a couple of trips to the fridge. It’s a dangerous game, and one that many of us are guilty of.
With 40% of people reporting exercising less in the current lockdown than the first, getting outside for a walk and some fresh air once or twice a day will not only great for your mental health but helps to break up the day and will boost creative thinking. One way we tackled this here at Isoline was by setting a 10k steps a day challenge. Got a call with your line manager – why not walk and talk? Need to pop to the post office at lunch – why not take a stroll? This motivated the rest of the team to get moving during the day, and some of us even got quite competitive!
TIP: If you’re looking at ways to keep moving whilst in the home office, there’s even a ton of deskercises you can do.
6. Stay connected with happy hours
It’s easy to forget the importance of social health in the workplace now that we’ve gone remote – 63% of workers have already spent less time socialising with their colleagues since COVID-19 – and it’s had a knock-on effect. It’s important to keep the momentum high and also strike the balance of work and play, especially now we are stuck at home, and happy hours are an effective way of doing this. Here at Isoline, we get together for a drink and game night over Zoom once a week. From movie quizzes to app games like Among Us or Psych, we try to end the week on a high!
7. Test out productivity methods
It can be difficult to stay motivated and productive when working from home when you are following the same routine day in day out. So if you ever find yourself grinding to a halt, switch it up; the right productivity method can make all the difference. The famous ‘pomodoro’ technique where you split your workday into 25-minute chunks with 5-minute breaks has been a favourite here at Isoline! Other great tactics include time boxing and the two-minute rule which can be used for quick tasks.
8. Avoid unwanted distractions
From diverting attention to pets, kids, or even that pile of dirty dishes that’s been stacking up all week, it can be hard to stay focused on work when at home, but creating clear boundaries with people at home is a good place to start; a ‘do not disturb’ sign might be all you need. And if you find social media or internet surfing a distraction, we recommend using a site-blocker like Forest, or Freedom to help you stay focused. Turning off push notifications on your phone will help you avoid being distracted by the latest ASOS sale on offer.
Of course, work-related things can be distracting. If you need to delve into some long-form technical copy, think about turning off your notifications for an hour. And try not to get out of the habit of obsessively checking your emails – every time you pause to check an email it’ll take some time to get your brain into the groove once you return to the task you were working on.
9. Make learning a priority
Learning is a huge part of any job and will have long-lasting benefits for both the employee and employer post-pandemic, so it’s important not to forget about it even though we aren’t in the office. There are more online courses and webinars available now than ever before, so take the time where possible to take part in these. Also ensuring your junior team members have a mentor that they can learn from in the workplace is useful for on-going support.
But don’t forget the talent you already have in-house! At Isoline we host weekly internal tune-ups over zoom. Each week, a member of the team picks a topic of their expertise to present to the rest of the team –sessions we’ve held include PowerPoint skills, budgeting, campaign management and campaign analytics.
10. Know when it’s time to turn off your laptop
Feeling burned out can be a common problem so it’s important to know when it’s time to call it quits for the day – especially as employees have reported working an average of three extra hours a day since lockdown. It’s very easy for work and home life to blur into one, so don’t get yourself into the habit of sleeping next to your laptop or checking emails all hours of the day – it’s not healthy for anyone! Along with training yourself about when you need to log off for the day, also learn to give yourself well-needed breaks during the day (and away from the screen when possible). Whether it’s for a cup of tea, a chat with someone from work or a quick five-minute walk around the block, it’ll leave you feeling more productive when you sit back in your chair.
Cartoon credit: Terry LaBan