Working remotely or from home isn't always easy — especially if you aren't used to it. But our talented team has a long history of working remotely and we're happy to share some of the tips that help us maintain our sanity!
Remote working is different for everyone and some people enjoy it much more than others. But whether you are only doing it temporarily while the COVID pandemic continues to develop or are a permanent remote worker, these tips can help you adjust to your routine and make it work for you. Here's what the VIEO team has to say about remote work:
Lauren Nelson, Senior Graphic Designer, says:
- Put on real clothes — it tells your body it’s time to do things and puts you in the work mindset.
- Sit at a desk. I’ve been on my couch literally until today, and I didn’t realize how much it sucks on my back to hunch over at my coffee table. Sitting in a real computer chair felt so much better (and if you don't have a computer chair — or a desk, for that matter — just sitting in a real chair at a table will help!)
Holly Yalove, Principal & Chief Strategist, says:
- After initially trying to work in my bedroom (something they tell you not to do for a reason), I moved to more of an “office space” in a spare room that has a door I can close and lock. That way if I’m on video or audio conference calls I don’t have family members barging in!
- I took a clue from watching Torrie and others use their Slack status to relay when I’m on a call or in a meeting or away from the desk for lunch, etc.
- My routine has definitely changed because without having to get “ready” (business on top, PJs on the bottom) and drive 45 minutes to and from work, I’m getting to work earlier and, on some days, closing my laptop a little earlier to spend time with my girls.
- My biggest struggle is having family-member distractions. With kids doing online school and everyone stuck in the house together, things come up that require my attention and it’s harder to be “out of sight, out of mind” but I try my best to just sweetly remind people that I’m “at work” and unavailable, if at all possible.
Melanie Chandler, Design Director, says:
- Don’t forget to shower (and put on pants) — it helps with your sanity. (OR if you're on a video call and don't like pants, just remember to not stand up until you hang up!)
- Take extra breaks, go on walks, just really go outside so you don't feel so trapped in your house. (If you can't physically leave your house, maybe because the weather is bad or you have a small child to take care of, at least move around to different rooms and spend some time looking out a window at the natural world.)
- Make sure you have a good chair so you don't jack up your back (seriously, we can't stress this enough — back and neck problems are no joke).
Jess Jardin, Business Development Representative, says:
- Headphones have been my saving grace working from home with an easily-bored 12-year-old and fiancé!
- Maintaining a routine has made all the difference, too. Initially, I tried to sleep in as late as I could and get up 5 minutes before logging on (which obviously was unsuccessful). Now I have it down pat so I can start my day with a cup of coffee/a quick breakfast, my morning prayer/mindfulness meditation, and still have time to take Kiko to potty.
- It also really helps to step outside and get a breath of fresh air on my lunch break.
- With the line of work we are in, I can't stress enough the huge emphasis on having a laptop stand/riser to prevent "tech neck" or back problems and strain!
- To prevent burnout, I do my best to put limits on "overtime" hours. It's really easily to work through lunch/past 5pm, especially without the usual office social cues indicating break times. So, I've found that it helps my productivity when I pressure myself to finish my daily task list by 5pm, which also helps me prioritize tasks in the first place. If I'm not done by then, I'll give myself a 30-45 min extension, but no later than that. Then when I'm done for the day, I actually like to unplug and do as many non-tech related activities with the family as possible. Maybe a good tip for those living alone is to connect with a family member or friend over the phone or video chat!
Cody Rose, Front-End Developer, says:
Here are my main work from home tips:
- Invest in your setup, e.g. buying:
- An extra monitor
- A monitor arm
- A high-quality webcam or microphone
- A comfortable computer chair
- Really just do whatever will make it easier to do your job, because all of this might last for a while.
- Invest in your setup, e.g. buying:
Lindsay Elsten, Client Success Manager, says:
Remote working tips (for the extroverts with bad backs):
- Keep a separate space to work. “Treat yo'self” with couch time on Mondays or Fridays (or whatever) only, so you don’t completely destroy your posture.
- Incorporate animals and/or plants. Adopt a pet, foster a pet, fill your house with plants. Surrounding yourself with living beings that you have to care for gives you added purpose at home as well as something productive to do during work breaks (i.e. playing, watering, cuddling, etc - you can also do all these things with your pets).
- Open the curtains/blinds/etc. Wherever you set up shop, keep the windows open for natural light or just nature in general. Especially when it’s raining, it’s nice to have a window to the outside so it doesn’t feel so cramped and closed-off having to stay inside.
- On that note, get outside when you can! Spend time on a fancy porch setup with comfy chairs or simply grab a blanket and go sit in your yard. The sunshine works wonders and while you’re there go barefoot! Grounding (bare feet to earth) is a great way to stay calm and centered if being in a pandemic happens to cause you any anxiety.
- Try to incorporate exercise or, my favorite, yoga. It's low impact, not a lot of sweating involved, and, best of all, it helps to stretch out after sitting at a computer all day.
- Add fun things to your workspace like flowers, candles, favorite art, etc. so when you need a screen break you have other pleasant things to look at!
Nikki Sneed, Content Marketing Strategist, says:
- Find what works best for you and your tasks and goals! As someone who spends half her time writing, I prefer to curl up in a comfy position on the couch (or sprawl on the floor — usually upside down) to inspire the creativity to flow.
- Move, move, move. I’m an introvert so I'm very content to not leave my home for days, but that doesn’t mean I’m always in the same place. I take breaks constantly to walk around the house, exercise, investigate weird noises from my cats, or simply go turn the kettle on and make fresh tea.
- Even if you don’t feel “trapped” in your house or mind being inside, like me, it’s still important to remember to stick to a strict 8-hour workday and treat yourself to little breaks. Studies have shown that it is common for remote workers to work longer hours and feel “always on-call” and that’s not healthy. Even if I am not going outside or doing anything special, I still turn my computer off when my workday is over and make sure to walk away from it a few times throughout the day (usually for tea and cookies, like I said above)!
- It doesn’t work for everyone, but keeping my regular wake-up schedule is perfect for me. My alarm still goes off at the same time it would for me to drive into work (partly because my Kitty Bois demand to be fed at that same time anyway) and that gives me plenty of time to do morning stretches, make the bed, get dressed for the day, start a load of laundry or do some cleaning, and get breakfast and coffee started.
- Avoid temptation if you can! I’m a gamer, so it’s very tempting to carry my Switch downstairs in the morning or work in my game room — but that’s a mistake for me. It’s too easy to try to justify small gaming breaks if I have worked ahead (or if I haven't, frankly). To avoid this, I make sure to not work in the game room and to leave my systems and whatever book I’m reading upstairs, well out of reach. That way they are my rewards for completing the day, not distractions during work.
Torrie Boggs, Project Management Director, says:
- Make sure your whole family has a schedule if they’re old enough to understand. This helps keep the kiddos out of your hair when you have a meeting.
- Change up the scenery. I try to spend at least a little time out on my porch each day to break things up. (If you don't have a porch to sit on, or if the weather is bad, at least move to a different room every now and then!)
- Check in with your team and let them know you’re available if they need you. I try to talk to most of my team every day either by slack or via a call.
Yvonne Bertovich, Content Marketing Specialist, says:
- I still really love routine, and even though my routine has changed, I try to fill my day with a variety of things — exercising, cleaning, cooking, drawing, just listening to music. I’ve also started journaling, which I’ve surprisingly never really been into. I’ve written something every day since mid-March. Music has probably helped me more than anything else, but that’s typical.
- I try to be either mentally or physically productive at all times, but sometimes whatever I’m trying to work on just isn’t happening — so I have to switch it up and take a break for a few minutes.
- I always start my day with stretching for a few minutes and get ready like it’s a normal non-remote day, even if my uniform is just gym clothes. I also set aside time to pray/meditate for a few minutes every morning. I used to do so driving to work, but now it’s much more intentional.
- I’ve kinda always hated sitting for too long — my back doesn’t like it either and I’ve realized almost every chair I own gets uncomfortable.
- I’ve also started breaking up my typical workout that I’d save for after work into three parts throughout the day — morning stretches, lunch, and then something light to help me unwind after work. If I get antsy at any point during the day (which is often) I usually go outside and run up and down the stairs or take a few laps around my apartment complex, depending on how tweaky my knee is feeling that day.
If you are struggling with remote work — or just this entire crisis overall — remember that you are not alone! We are all in this together and we will get through it. The COVID pandemic and the "safer-at-home" orders caused by it may last for a while longer, but they won't last forever!
We're here for you and we'll keep trying to help in anyway that we can. If you're looking for other advice or tips to help you weather this storm, check out our other blogs:
- How to Weather the Storm as a Small Business
- Face-to-Face Networking in the Digital Age
- Changing Your Company Voice to Match the Social Climate
- How to Pivot Your Communication During COVID-19
- Why You Need a Content Calendar for Remote Work
If VIEO can help your business weather the storm, we will! We're offering free brainstorming sessions right now to help our fellow businesses get through this any way we can. Sign up for your free brainstorming session now!