With a large proportion of people now working from home, we are sharing advice on how employees and businesses can adapt to remain productive, happy and connected.
Each day, TheSoul Publishing has over 1100 team members in over 80 countries working remotely to create our fun and highly-engaging content. As it may be a benefit for those working remotely for the first time, we gathered directly from our amazing team the following tips and best practices on working successfully from home.
Create a routine. Get up, take a shower, exercise and work in a specific place at home to avoid the sensation of being trapped. Avoid the temptation to simply extend your working day or week. Be sure to turn the computer off at your usual time and continue with those hobbies and interests you can still safely pursue
Do what makes you comfortable. Work in pajamas, jeans, formal clothes or whatever you feel like putting on. Assuming you’re video-call appropriate, wear what puts you in the best mood to work
Reduce distractions. To focus on the work task at hand, consider putting your personal phone in a different room and make sure you reverse this trend at the end of the day, leaving work devices behind. Make sure anyone you live with understands when you’re available too and when they need to respect your commitments
Look after your body. Avoid grazing on snacks all day. Be sure to use your breaks well and make yourself a delicious meal, even if that means taking a bit of time to cook. It goes without saying, but keep yourself hydrated too
And your mind. Take a short break after each hour of working. It helps recharge your energy and makes you work more effectively. Small exercises or a quick phone call to a friend or family member will help keep the body and mind healthy
Consider your working pattern. If you have kids or a noisy environment at home, try to start work earlier, or continue later into the evening, to balance the demands of family life. For early birds, starting at 5am can buy a couple of hours of clear thinking time before the day begins
Work smarter. If you have a lot of work, always begin with the easier tasks. These can serve as a "warm up" when you get started in the morning and give you a confidence boost. This is a personal thing of course. Find out what works and ask your colleagues for their recommendations too
Stay in touch. Working remotely takes trust on both sides. Regularly check in to see whether your colleagues are trying to contact you and establish the best channels for communication. Phone and internet signal can also be a challenge so test your set up and have a plan b in mind
Be kind – to yourself and others. Different methods work for different people and we can all learn something new. Take time to speak to your colleagues to share ideas and avoid isolation. Use the opportunity to catch up on bigger pieces of work you may have struggled to complete in the office. And always speak up if you’re struggling. If technology is brilliant for one thing, it’s staying in touch. Be sure to use it.
Advice for managers:
Be flexible. When you're managing a team with employees in seven different time zones, we can't expect everyone to adhere to the same timelines even when circumstances are optimal. Now with schools closed and childcare in disarray, we have to understand that our colleagues will get things done on their own schedules, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't set deadlines.
Tech capabilities aren't the same for everyone. One teammate has great WiFi in her kitchen, but a weak signal in her bedroom. Instead of doing video calls in her kitchen with regular interruptions from her roommates (her small kids), we're sticking to audio calls that she can make from her locked bedroom. Another team member works with extensive spreadsheets and is used to a large external monitor. We want her to make the best use of her time, so we sent her a monitor to set up in her home. Everyone is trying to make it work, and the management team has to facilitate that.
Create physical distance but over communicate. It may no longer possible for your team to pop over to each other's desks with a quick question, or to say hello and goodbye on their way in and out of the office. Instead we're shooting over chats and making unscheduled calls much more often than when we're in the office. Sometimes the exchanges are more therapeutic than work-related, but that's important too.
Worry about the results, not how you get there. If you've given your team ten tasks to complete by the end of the week and they've done it well by Wednesday, it doesn't mean you need to ramp up the asks. On the other side, if your team isn't getting things done in a reasonable time frame, don't just lower expectations, but find out why and see what you can do to get your team in the work from home groove.
TheSoul Publishing is an independent digital studio that produces entertaining, informative and original content for a global audience. Our most-viewed channel, 5-Minute Crafts, is the No. 1 DIY digital brand in the world and ranks among the top five of all YouTube channels.