Social distancing is one of the key ways of limiting the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which means everyone who can be working from home (WFH) should – and at Longtail UX, that means everyone. While most have worked from home from time to time before, for most of us, we haven’t had to work from home for a continued length of time and/or with the added “fun” of our family around us. This will likely be a process of trial and error.
There are currently many resources available on this topic. We have been trawling through these; see below for a list of top working from home tips we found to be most useful.
What are we doing at LUX?
Communicate, communicate, communicate:
- Stand-ups – every day at 9:30 over video call
- Weekly’ Stand-down’ at 4 pm on Fridays
- Maintaining company-wide check-ins, one-on-ones, and team meetings.
- Moving monthly all-hands meeting to a weekly cycle
- Slack chats & phone calls
- Zoom video call / Google Hangouts
- Jira for Tech project scheduling
- Trello & Worksheets for non-tech work
- Confluence, Google Sheets/Docs/Slides for collaboration & documentation
Keeping the ‘social’ in social distancing – and the fun alive:
- PlayPlay.io – Ping-Pong for Slack A ping pong bot for your team. Challenge a colleague to a ping-pong game, then track your score and ranking. The bot supports leader boards, seasons, scores, history of matches, and much more, complete with fun animated GIFs.
- Daily trivia quiz at 3 pm in the #random Slack channel
- Water Cooler Chat Zoom meeting – open channel for everyone to check in to have a tea/coffee and a chat
- Coming soon: “Pet party” – a social all-hands meeting (via video conference) where everyone is encouraged to bring their children/pets/housemates/plants etc. this is an idea inspired by other start-ups who noted video conferences from individuals homes could be awkward for some, however, once everyone introduced their additional miscellaneous household members, the calls went much smoother.
Top working from home tips:
- Rock your workspace – designate an area specifically for getting work done, establish an area of your home where you will work, be sure your workspace is quiet so you can focus.
- It’s time to get down to business – set specific work hours to make working from home a commitment. You may take this opportunity to introduce flexible working hours now you don’t have your daily commute to worry about and/or, if you need to help the kids with their schoolwork, then adjust your work hours to suit. Be sure to communicate your availability to your co-workers/teams/managers. At Longtail UX, we keep track via Google Sheets, individual calendars and a dedicated Slack #people-news channel.
- Make the most of YOUR high productivity periods – we’re all at our most productive at different times of the day. Some of us are early birds, and some are night owls, work out when you’re most productive and build your work schedule around your peak productivity periods. As with point 2, be sure to communicate your availability to your co-workers/teams/managers.
- Update your to-do list – some of us are Trello fanatics, but we know there are plenty of other tools out there. If your to-do list is anything like ours, you know it can be easy to lose sight of priorities, tasks, and deadlines. Make your list, review your preferences, stick to it and when you complete each task, cross it off the list (it’s super satisfying).
- Pick 2-3 action items each day that you will 100% complete – make sure you are not only productive but that you also feel productive. The best way to do this is to pick a couple of essential action items each day and ensure that you close them that day.
- Keep your calendar up to date – and for extra measure, integrate it with Slack! An up-to-date calendar is excellent for two main reasons; 1. You know where you’re meant to be and what you’re meant to be doing. 2. Everyone else knows where you’re meant to be and if you’re available.
- Get dressed! – we totally understand the temptation to work in your PJ’s; it’s one of the main reasons people love working from home, right?! However, research shows that if you enjoy working in your PJs, then you are killing your productivity. Dressing for success is really important when you work from home; it gets you psychologically in the right mindset for work, AND you’ll be ready to handle any kind of video chat or check-in that pops up.
- Develop a routine – we’re all creatures of habit; one of the most important working from home tips is to keep a routine and specific work hours to help you feel more focused, alert, and productive. Not having to get up, rush out of the house, and commute to the office is a great perk of working from home, but since you’ll likely be cooped up indoors for most of your day, why not take the opportunity and extra free time to exercise and get some fresh air (of course taking into account stringent rules regarding social distancing). Get up, take a shower, have a coffee and breakfast, prepare your lunch, all the little things you would do if you were going to the office.
- Stay active – stretch it out and exercise regularly to boost endorphins and get the oxygen moving around your body. This can increase happiness, enjoyment, and interest levels, all of which are important for our productivity and wellbeing. Regularly stretching helps you to maintain great posture. Many apps are currently offering huge discounts to keep everyone active during such odd secluded times. Here are a few apps that come recommended by our team: This one makes you feel amazing in 5-7 minutes per day after just seven days: 30-day plank challenge – free app on Google Play and App Store. We’ve heard some great feedback regarding Down Dog – with extended free Premium membership until the 1st of May. If you have a fitness tracker, make sure you keep up those 10,000 steps a day – while adhering to the latest social distancing rules, of course! Check out this link for others.
- SNAAAAAAACKS – working from home means full access to the kitchen plus all of its contents. One of our favourite working from home tips is to try not to be drawn to the more desirable options; lollies, chips, biscuits, etc. Eating fresh fruit and veggies has a direct link to overall productivity levels. Avoid buying unhealthy snacks altogether. Reward yourself with a sweet snack after a successful afternoon.
- Take a break – research has shown that taking short breaks can actually increase productivity and creativity levels. If you don’t have an excellent work-life balance, you won’t last too long working at home. You can easily avoid this by working short, five-minute breaks into your daily schedule or even make them part of your rewards system.
- Treat yo self – a rewards system can be an easy way to help you get things done and stop procrastinating. If you’re snack orientated, use that to motivate yourself and help you get things done and feel fulfilled.
- Social media detox – we can all be guilty of this one; social media can be a giant time-suck! One minute you’re checking the time on your phone, and the next, you’re criticizing the bridesmaid’s dresses at your ex-colleagues cousin’s wedding! Minimizing mindless use of social media helps us to avoid distractions so you can focus. If you love using social media, then make it a habit to shut off notifications during the day. Consider muting your notifications on your phone or putting your phone on airplane mode when working on a project or a deadline to stay focused on the task at hand.
- Video chat – working from home can be lonely – make it a point to chat with colleagues, team members and clients. Slack, Google Hangouts and Zoom are all very popular at Longtail UX. It’s always good to work in a well-lit room… More helpful tips on how we can all get the best out of video conferencing platforms coming soon!
- Stay positive 🙂 and be kind! – sometimes, written messaging can fall short of expressing ideas clearly. It’s easy to assume the tone of a message, but if you are not sure, ask. And have a quick re-read of messages before you send them to be sure they won’t land the wrong way. Focus on the facts and always assume everyone’s positive intent – or try using emojis to convey emotions with your team.