With unprecedented measures being taken across the country and world to contain the spread of COVID-19, many people are transitioning to an at-home work environment for possibly the first time in their career. Our company has been remote-based since inception in 1997, so we know the benefits and challenges that can come with a work-from-home environment. We asked the PMD team, and have gathered some tips, tools, and best practices to help you get in the hang of working from home.
Create a Morning Routine
We get it. You finally have an opportunity to roll out of bed and make the short commute to your home office without any of the traffic headaches. But, it’s useful to figure out a more refined schedule than a roll to the computer.
- Get dressed! It is so tempting to roll up to your desk in pajamas and fuzzy slippers because, well, why not? However, getting dressed can have a significant impact on your mindset and productivity. Maybe you choose to wear normal work attire, or maybe it’s a clean set of workout clothes. Whatever you pick, just make it different than what you sleep in.
- Cultivate your morning beverage. In the past, it’s probably been a rare occasion when you could dedicate a few extra minutes to your coffee or tea. Check what you have on hand and try some new concoctions. It gives your mind a bit of a puzzle to figure what you want to drink based on the ingredients available. And based on the caffeine and sugar levels, a spark of energy.
It’s not always possible to remove every distraction in your new work-from-home environment, especially if you are now also finding yourself homeschooling your kids. But try to take a few simple steps to reduce them.
- Start with creating a designated workspace. Try turning your desk toward a window or away from the pile of laundry or shelf that desperately needs to be reorganized. Shutting those distractions out as much as you are able will help you focus on the task at hand.
- Keep your phone out of arms-length. You’ll still be able to reach it for important phone calls, but you will be less likely to pick it up every time someone sends a text or Facebook notification.
- Let your family members know that just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that you’re available for errands or coffee chats. For those in your home, talk about some guidelines for when they can and can’t interrupt you.
- If possible, when you’re about to jump on a conference call, put your furry friends in another room. It never fails that as soon as your call begins, someone knocks on the front door and your home’s four-legged security team is loudly protecting you from impending danger.
Set Work Standards
The biggest temptation with a home office is to just take care of that one last thing or pull up your email inbox one more time, and before you know it, you’ve spent an extra two hours in the office. It can be challenging but drawing boundaries between work and home life is so important!
- Keep office hours like you would at your regular office and stick to it.
- Take a lunch break away from your desk. If the weather’s nice, get outside for a bit.
- Without your commute to consider, you may even be able to fit in a walk or workout before or after work. An online or streaming workout or yoga session (even with the kids!) is great for reducing stress.
- When it’s time to sign off for the day, close up your computer and walk away.
Some Helpful Tools
Working remotely can be a challenge in those times when it would be easier to walk over to someone’s desk and help them with a problem or brainstorm an idea together. Thankfully, we have the gift of technology to bring remote teams closer together and bridge that gap. Here are a few of our favorite tools:
- At PMD, we use Screencast-o-matic to create tutorials for other team members or clients. We use it to show how to make website updates, for explaining design ideas, and anything else that requires just a little more visual explanation than you can achieve in email.
- We also utilize Zoom for our video conferences with our team and with clients and vendors. Regular team and company-wide conferences through Zoom bring us all together from across the country. You can use it with or without video, and it has screensharing capabilities. Zoom lets us troubleshoot, brainstorm, and walk through new processes.
- Our phones! Many times, things don’t translate well in an email or text. We recognize the importance of picking up the phone and making a call to be sure our message is clear and concise, and we don’t risk a team member misunderstanding tone or intention.
- Microsoft To Do (formerly Wunderlist) is an app that syncs to both your phone and computer. It’s great for keeping up with all of your to do lists.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
You’ll be actually talking to people less. Without the face-to-face meetings, make sure you’re keeping everyone informed.
- Internally, your coworkers won’t have your smiling face to help them know your emotions or intentions about a project. Over-communicate what you need and by whom and when. Don’t leave things up for interpretation.
- Give everyone a heads up about possible distractions (kids, animals, etc.) when on conference calls. They’re going to happen at some point, and it’s much better received when people know at the beginning of a call what any potential interruptions could be.
- Check in with people! It can be lonely and you start to feel isolated. Make some social calls. Yes, actual calls, not just texts. If you always have lunch with a coworker, try a weekly FaceTimed lunch. Get creative, but don’t forget the need for social connections.
Your PMD team is here and available for all your marketing, promotional and digital needs, but more importantly, we’re here to do whatever we can to help you and your team through these unprecedented times. Reach out if there is anything PMD Group can assist you with over the coming weeks. We’re ready when you are.