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April 1, 2020

Longtail UX Top Tips for Working from Home

Social distancing is one of the key ways of limiting the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which means everyone who can should be working from home (WFH) – 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 tips we have found most useful.

What are we doing @ LUX?

 

Communicate, communicate, communicate:

  • • Stand-ups – every day @ 9:30 over video call
  • • Weekly ‘Stand-down’ at 4PM on Fridays
  • • Maintaining company wide check-ins, one-on-ones and team meetings
  • • Moving monthly all-hands meeting to a weekly cycle

Utilizing technology:

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 @ 3PM 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 can be awkward for some, however, once everyone introduced their additional miscellaneous household members, the calls went much smoother

Working from Home Top Tips:

  1. Rock your work-space – designate an area specifically for getting work done, establish an area of your home where you will work, be sure your work-space is quiet so you can focus.
  2. 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.
  3. 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, 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.
  4. 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 then you know it can be easy to lose sight of priorities, tasks, and deadlines. Make your list, review your priorities, stick to it, when you complete each task, cross it off the list (it’s super satisfying).
  5. 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 important action items each day, and ensure that you close them that day.
  6. Keep your calendar up to date – and for extra measure integrate it with Slack! An up to date calendar is great for 2 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.
  7. 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 PJ’s, 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.
  8. Develop a routine – we’re all creatures of habit, a routine and specific work hours can help you to 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 the most part 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.
  9. 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 well being. Regularly stretching helps you to maintain great posture. Currently lots of apps are offering huge discounts to try to keep everyone active during such odd secluded times. Here’s a few apps that come recommended from our team:This one makes you feel amazing in 5-7 minutes per day after just 7 days: 30-day plank challenge – free app on Google Play and App StoreWe’ve heard some great feedback regarding Down Dog – with extended free Premium membership until 1st of MayIf 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.
  10. SNAAAAAAACKS – working from home means full access to the kitchen plus all of its contents. When we’re feeling fanciful it’s easy to be drawn to the easy snacks; lollies, chips, biscuits etc. Eating fresh fruit and veggies has a direct link on overall productivity levels. Avoid buying unhealthy snacks altogether. Reward yourself with a sweet snack after a successful afternoon.
  11. Take a break – research has shown that taking short breaks can actually increase productivity and creativity levels. If you don’t have a good work-life balance, then 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.
  12. 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 to help you to get things done and feel fulfilled.
  13. 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 bridesmaids dresses at your ex-colleagues, cousins, 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.
  14. 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!
  15. 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.

Useful Resources

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