The coronavirus pandemic has turned nearly every facet of life upside down. Like it or not, there really is no “normal” anymore, at least for the time being. But for people accustomed to a daily office routine, the sudden immersion in the work-from-home waters can be especially jarring. And that’s not good.
So what’s a team to do when they’re suddenly working from home without much time to prepare? As I’m about to explain in this third part of our series for remote workers, establishing parameters and a daily routine are essential to maintaining productivity and avoiding the classic remote work pitfalls. So stick around as I dispense some of our patented Caver insights, this time with some insider tips on making the most of your virtual office days.
Wake Up With a Mission
There’s an ancient proverb that’s just as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago – working in your Fruit of the Looms is like running in quicksand. Okay, I totally made that up, but it makes sense, right? Yes, the thought of not having to put on the dreaded office attire and commute into work is pretty alluring, but there’s both a psychological and biological component to our daily rituals – wake up (relatively) early, take a shower, eat breakfast, read the news, get dressed, pet the dog, walk out the door. It’s kind of our thing as humans.
Granted, the very definition of “work” has changed quite a bit in recent years, driven by the emergence of the gig economy, technology, and self-starting freelancers. But that doesn’t change the fact that we, as a species, need structure. We need to wake up every morning with a mission to accomplish, and that’s where things often go sideways for remote working noobs.
That said, if you’re a telecommuting greenhorn, my suggestion is to abide by a relatively strict morning ritual and work schedule, mimicking the one you’ve already been doing for years.
- Set your alarm for a reasonable hour, maybe 7(ish) am or so
- Take your shower, eat a healthy breakfast, read the news for a bit (if you can bear to)
- Get dressed for “work”
- Kick some productivity rear-end
Does this require a fairly high degree of self-discipline? Yesiree. But it’s important to look at a workday from home like any other workday. In other words, from a purely mental perspective, treat it as if you were still commuting to the office, sitting in your normal office environment, taking a lunch break, and everything else a typical workday might include – with a few crucial caveats, mind you.
The 800-Pound Rona Gorilla Sitting in Your Living Room
My point thus far has been to wake up and conduct your day with a purpose in mind, even if you and your team are now using a virtual office model that might seem quite foreign to you. However, as I said up top, things aren’t normal right now, and to ignore what’s triggering the need for people to telecommute en masse isn’t necessarily healthy or well-advised.
Ultimately, it’s up to you as an individual to find a balance between productivity and self-care. I’m not suggesting you pretend that the world isn’t a strange, scary, even overwhelming place right now. And if that means taking a few more breaks for yoga, meditation, Swedish death metal, or whatever floats your boat, then so be it.
Maintaining boundaries is just as important for the evening hours as it is for your morning ritual.
Also, maintaining boundaries is just as important for the evening hours as it is for your morning ritual. In other words, assuming you’re able to be productive throughout the day, don’t work at night if you wouldn’t otherwise. Just because you’re living the quarantine life at the moment doesn’t mean that you should sacrifice a healthy work-life balance with never-ending work hours. Walk away from the laptop at 4 or 5 pm, grab a cold one out of the fridge, and unwind. Maintaining a buffer between your work and personal life is still essential.
Protect Your Culture & Avoid Burnout
Lastly, as I said when discussing technology for remote employees, take full advantage of tools like Slack, Zoom, Skype, Trello, video conferencing software, and other handy solutions. Not only will these help you get your actual work done but, just as importantly, let you catch up and check in with your team members, even if you're time zones away from one another. Maintaining your company's culture and camaraderie is vital, especially when you're no longer sharing the same office space.
So take these pointers and develop your own schedule, using them as a foundation to make the best of every day in your home office. Because, believe it or not, it’s just as easy to burn-out while remote working as it is during a more normal routine, perhaps even more so given the unrelenting COVID-19 nightmare surrounding us all.
In a few weeks, I’ll take a deeper dive into specific productivity and culture-building tips while working from home, but, for now, concentrate on finding a balance, developing a remote work schedule and routine, and sticking to them. And if you, your newly remote team, or business have any inbound marketing needs, website design issues, or want to use these strange times as an opportunity to reinvent your branding and messaging, Creative Cave is at the ready.