Maybe you’re a work from home pro. Or maybe you’re wondering, “how the f do I work from home?” Here’s a few realistic (and aspirational) ways you can keep up this charade—indefinitely.
This week marks the sixth week of our team working from home. That’s exactly 42 days, 1,008 hours, 60,480 minutes, or 3,628,800 seconds. But like, who’s counting??
Despite the glaring realization that nobody has any idea when this quarantine will end, the changes that came with it (i.e. working from home, among other things) were fairly easy for our team to adopt given our small size and agility. We’ve come to the realization quite quickly however, that some people aren’t having as seamless a process as we’ve had. In light of this, we decided to compile some of our team’s tips and tricks for making ‘Work From Home’ a more, shall we say, “liveable” situation.
If you’re in a position where working from home is possible, the first thing you should do is count your blessings. If we’re being honest, having the right attitude is half the battle when faced with a very uncertain set of circumstances.
It’s okay not to be okay. We’re 99% certain most companies haven’t developed training programs “designed to help you work from home indefinitely during a pandemic.” If yours has, congratulations! You’re way ahead of the game. But for the shortsighted among us, here’s a few practical tips to keep your sanity alive and well.
If you’re not already using Zoom, get out from the rock you’re clearly living under.
First and foremost, we know we need each other in order to stay connected. The best way we’ve found to “virtually” get together with friends, family and colleagues these days is through video conferencing.
Before we keep going on this point, we should probably surface the very real rumors we’ve all heard about “Zoombombing”. If this is the first you’re hearing of it, remember what we previously advised about the rock. Some of us (God forbid) may have experienced the Zoombombing phenomenon firsthand. Since not all of us would consider these (sometimes X-rated) diversions a productive use of time, follow these safeguards to secure your meeting against unwanted attendees:
- Use the lock meeting function once everyone has joined to prevent anyone else from joining the meeting
- Add a meeting password so only those with the code are allowed to join the meeting
- Enable the waiting room feature so no one can join before the host
- Enable the host approval feature so the host can approve meeting attendees
- Change screen-sharing options to “Host Only”
Check out Zoom’s security page for the full rundown.
Outside of your average work-related Zoom meetings, check out these fun ideas for using Zoom to connect outside of work hours: 9 Fun Games and Activities to Play On a Video Call
You can still “go to work” without actually going anywhere.
Back in the “good ol’ days” it was routine to wake up, get ready for work, stop for a coffee, and head to the office. While your commute has gotten shorter, and your office has a temporary change of address, there’s still a need for a routine, probably now more than ever. We recommend one that involves putting on real-people clothes.
Your new office may come with a lot of useful amenities such as a kitchen, backyard, living room, and a bed, but please remember; Your bed is not the place to work or take meetings. Trust us, we tested this theory and all we got were backaches. Separate your workspace from your bedroom so you still have somewhere to relax and reset at the end of the day.
Some of our favorite makeshift workspaces are:
- The kitchen table
- A window seat
- The back porch
- DIY standing desk (the kitchen bar or a chest of drawers works great)
- Exercise ball “chair” and table
The age of COVID-19 presents us with a unique opportunity to design our days from scratch, so take advantage of the sunlight and fresh air by spending time outside or going for a run in between tasks. You may even experience a spike in productivity.
Help your team help themselves— If there is too much inconsistency among team members establishing a workday start time, suggest a team check-in to start off the day focused and motivated. At 9miles Media, we have a morning stand-up meeting over Zoom starting at 8:15 AM. During this meeting, each team member highlights the main tasks they will be working on that day and mentions if they will need assistance from others. We can’t hang out in our studio downtown at the moment, but a virtual stand-up meeting does the trick!
Organize occasional team lunches— Our team calendar has a recurring daily invite for an optional “team lunch” via Zoom. Work talk is strictly prohibited (enforceable by the mute button) to give everyone a relaxing lunch break. When we say relaxing, we’re speaking directly to the extrovert readers here, FYI.
Surviving, and thriving. It’s all possible.
Being home seemed much more appealing when a majority of our day was spent at the office. The challenge we face now is not only how to live at home, but how to truly thrive; not simply because we have no other option (although that is the case) but also because the following tips are good things to put in practice.
Start by listing out any:
- Goals you want to achieve
- Home projects you’ve put off (your driveway isn’t going to weed itself)
- Hobbies you’ve been too scared to take up (If you’re unsure of what to do, a lot of people need face masks right now)
- Workouts you want to try
- Books you need to finish (because we know you started them already)
- People you want to touch base with
After you’ve formulated your list, create a schedule for when you want to accomplish each of the items listed. Checking items off your list will help you feel like you haven’t completely wasted your quarantine. Make sure you date your list and save it somewhere you can refer to it later. It will be interesting to look back on what you were able to accomplish! Here’s a great list of quarantine recommendations if you’re still at a loss.
Are you working from home with your family? Create events in your home for you and your family to look forward to!
- Game nights
- Cook-off competition
- Formal dinners or themed dinner parties (think about it, this may be the only time you’ve put on real clothes in weeks so make it count)
Being with the same people every day gets old after a while, so make virtual plans with friends you don’t get to see. Whether it’s a game night or happy hour, spending time with friends via Facetime or Zoom will give you an excuse to “go out.”
Lastly, it’s tempting to move from one couch to the other while being stuck at home but remember to stay active! Whether it’s going for a walk, taking an online gym class, or making a TikTok (or several…), your brain and your body still need ample breaks. Define when the workday ends and when your home life begins. Close your laptop, find a new recipe to cook, and enjoy time with others in your home.
Make sure there is a community to return to.
Not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but have you paid attention to all the struggles small businesses are facing out there?! Let’s not forget about our neighbors in need. 7 Things You Can Do To Support Local Businesses Right Now
Remember your favorite family owned restaurant down the street? If they are providing delivery or curb-side pickup, continue to support them—your business means more than you realize at a time like this. If you hope to visit a business, store, bar, or restaurant after all of this is over, continue to support them so they will be able to survive these challenging times.
- Reach out to your neighborhood homeowners association or apartment community manager to invite local food trucks to stop in your neighborhood. Many restaurants are relying on their food trucks to keep the doors open once we can dine-in.
- Are you a small business owner? Go live on social media and show the community you’re taking precautions to stay open and provide products/services during this time. Your customers will appreciate you and want to support both you and your business!
- Many public schools are providing meals for children who would depend on their school for breakfast and lunch. These schools are even offering meals for the family members of the students. We aren’t gonna judge if you initially stockpiled food at the outset, but now it’s time to put your hoarding to good use by donating any extra food or supplies so schools can help feed your community.
- Donate your time by volunteering at food banks that are staying open and operational. Our favorite local spot is the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and their doors are always open to new volunteers.
You may think other people are handling this transition way better than you are, but the reality is, it’s a hot mess out there. Everyone is handling changes in their own way and change never comes easy. It’s easy to get disconnected and live in your own world while at home, but remember to plan regular check ins with your colleagues, loved ones, and friends—after all of this is over it’ll be like you were never apart (sort of).
Whether you’re personally facing challenges working from home or know others in the same boat, do yourself a favor by focusing on building healthy habits and routines, contributing to your local community, and encouraging family and friends. Share this blog with your network and do your best to support others while we all navigate how the f to work from home.
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