By: Sara Swiatlowski
As more and more offices are closing to help slow the spread of COVID-19 that means lots of employees are working remotely for the first time.
Did you know that at BrightVine we are a virtual team? What does that mean? We work remotely, from our homes, all of the time unless we are on-site with a client. This means that there is no risk of spreading the virus amongst our colleagues.
For those of you that are new to this working from home thing, we thought we’d share some of our tips to help make the transition a little less stressful.
Set up a dedicated work location in your home: You might be tempted to work from the comfy couch with your new-found freedom but we do not recommend this. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a dedicated office at home you can set up your workstation at an available table, counter space, or put a desk anywhere you have some space.
If you have someone else also working at home, try to find separate spaces for you each to work. If this isn’t possible, identify a room with a door that can be used to make conference calls without distracting the other person.
If you can still hear the other person and find it distracting, turn on some low music or wear headphones when they’re talking.
Keep your routine!: As much as possible, still do the things you would normally do on a workday. Get up at your normal time, shower, make breakfast/coffee, get dressed (though maybe a little more casual than normal), ‘pack’ your lunch and put it in the refrigerator for later. You’ll have some extra time since you aren’t actually commuting so maybe take a morning walk if the weather is nice, do yoga or meditate, watch a TV show, or read a book. Give your brain a little break from the news before your workday starts. You’ll be more focused and less stressed!
Stay connected with co-workers: Hopefully, your office has a chat system that you’ll be able to use to talk to your co-workers. We use Slack at BrightVine which we love because we have dedicated channels for projects but also channels for fun stuff too. Plus we can message each other one on one or in small groups or use it to video chat.
Bonus tip: If you normally eat lunch with your co-workers, set up a video chat and each lunch together virtually! You can use Google Hangouts for free if you don’t have access to something else.
Turn on your video: This is one that is easy to overlook but if you are going to have a web conference with people, turn on the video to help you feel more connected. You’ll also find meetings are more productive when video is on because people are focused and less multitasking can take place.
Get headphones with a microphone: You’ll want a good set of headphones with a microphone if you’ll be spending time on conference calls. It’ll leave your hands free for note-taking, you’ll be able to hear more easily, and people on the other end will be able to hear you.
Set boundaries: Especially important if you’ve got children or someone else at home with you. Find a way to let others in your home know if you need to turn on ‘do not disturb’. If you have a door where you are working, let everyone know that if it is closed they shouldn’t bother you. Or if your headset is on, it is on for a reason.
Don’t forget to move: You might be used to having a reason to got for a little walk in your office but at home, your proximity to a bathroom or the kitchen is likely just a few steps. Carve out a few minutes each hour to get up from your desk, walk up and downstairs if you have them, walk around the block, or just simply stretch. When you work at home it is much easier to have 5 hours go by and you haven’t left your desk.
Bonus tip! Stay hydrated and don’t eat all of your quarantine snacks on the first day.
Find the right soundtrack for your day: Since you are normally in an office, you are used to lots of noises around you, but now that you are home the silence will be distracting. Find something to put on in the background that will help you concentrate. This will be different for everyone. We have team members who are fine with the TV on, others who like music, or spa sounds, or white noise. You’ll have to find what’s best for you and it probably won’t be silent.
Bonus tip! Make different sound tracks to help get you through the day. Listening to something more upbeat around 3pm when the normal afternoon slump sets in can help you remain motivated.
Leave the office at the end of the day: Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean that you have to always be on. If your job normally finishes at 5 PM then that’s when it should end at home too. When you’re done for the day, close your laptop, shut off monitors and focus on the things you would have before becoming a work from home employee.
Sit back and enjoy as everyone comes to realize that many of those meetings could have just been an email.
Isolating to help slow the spread of the virus isn’t something we were prepared for but it is a necessary reality for the next few weeks or even months. Even though it may seem hard now, you’re lucky that you have a job that you can continue from home. So many others aren’t so lucky. Many of the organizations we work with on a daily basis are finding new and unique ways to support those who can’t work from home, who have been furloughed or laid off. We are all in this together and now more than ever!