Due to the Corona crisis, a large number of companies are currently telling their staff to work from home. Talking to people in our network we realized that many employees are perplexed by this unfamiliar situation.
What can you do when you suddenly have to work at your kitchen table or in the bedroom, have no colleagues around you and are perhaps surrounded by children and family members? We asked our team about the best tips for working in the home office.
1. Stick to a morning routine
“What works for me is sticking to a daily routine - getting up early, stretching and making a green juice before I log into work, taking a normal lunch break, setting aside time to work out etc.” - Maja, Marketing Team
Most of our team swears by a morning routine. This includes getting up at a fixed time, sports or yoga as well as a healthy breakfast. This is no coincidence, as many top performers say that their morning routine is the secret to their success.
Why is a morning routine so important?
If you don't have any structures, don't set an alarm clock and just "let yourself go", you will probably soon notice that your productivity goes down...probably you won't even get started at all.
A morning routine will help you set you for the day, wake up and activate your body to switch from "bum mode" to "work mode".
True to the motto: Win your morning, win your day!
2. Structure your day
“For me, working from home works better as I can set my own timings for everything. Have my favorite snack while working and walk around for some time when I get tired.” –Adeem, Amazon Team
“I personally count a lot on structuring. I give myself a working routine as similar as possible to the one I used to have in an office. Start at 9am for example, break at 1pm and so on.” –Serena, Virtual Assistant
We all agree on one thing: structures are important. Most people in the team get up at a fixed time and share fixed "office hours" and breaks.
Why are these rules necessary?
Without self-imposed rules and times, there is a danger of losing sight of the work and being distracted. This is a bit like Sundays. In the evening you wonder how the day went by, although you did "nothing".
Setting boundaries is especially important when you are surrounded by your family. It can be difficult for them to understand that you are not on holiday but working. The only thing that helps here is to set clear rules and explain to others that you are "in the office" at certain times and do not want to be disturbed - even if you are within sight.
Diana from customer service recommends: "Try to keep your working area separate from your living area."
If you have the opportunity to work in your own office or study, this is of course ideal. For those who have less space, it is advisable to define a fixed area for working and keep it as tidy as possible.
As Marie Kondo teaches: Tidying orders and relaxes the mind.
When your surroundings are organized it is much easier to keep the mind clear and focused as well.
3. Importance of diet
A heavy schnitzel for lunch or chocolate all day?
At home, the temptations are right under our nose, and besides, no one watches us like in the office. In view of the curfews you might have a similar problem as our virtual assistant Serena from Italy, who reports: "Since we can't do anything else, everybody cooks and eats all day long.”
In order to stay fit and productive despite home office and limited exercise possibilities, we recommend light and healthy food. Some in our team also swear by intermittent fasting and avoid excess sugar.
It is a known fact that nutrition can have a huge impact on our energy level. If we eat heavy meals, we get tired and sleepy faster. A lot of sugar and carbohydrates can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which then lead to the typical "afternoon slump". Excessive coffee consumption can also have a counterproductive effect and make tiredness even worse.
If you notice that you often get tired during the day and you lack focus, it is worth taking a closer look at your diet. Often you can achieve a lot with just small tweaks.
Yunika, our Admin Support, also recommends: "Don't forget to drink plenty of water."
4. Use smart tools
“I also use a lot of Asana/Google Calendar/Trello type of tools.” -Serena, Virtual Assistant
One of the most frequent questions concerns the coordination of tasks and communication. How can this work if you are not sitting opposite each other?
Very well indeed! We use a variety of tools to get an overview of our projects, delegate tasks and track their progress.
Here are the most important tools:
Asana is ideal for creating project plans and delegating tasks. The advantage: No information is lost in endless e-mail chains and everyone in the team can see the current status of the projects at any given time. Asana not only saves us an enormous amount of time, but also helps us to keep track of everything that is going on. Every time something needs to be done, we immediately create a task in Asana with a deadline - especially when things get hectic, we make sure that no thing - no matter how small - slips through our fingers.
We use Google Drive to store our data. We hold our weekly meetings via Google Meet with video, so we can see each other. A central system allows all team members to access all materials and makes it easy to share files. We always use videos in our calls to improve communication and also “see” each other.
Slack is our preferred chat channel for quick communication in between. Different teams use their own channels to share and discuss current issues. The advantage of Slack: Slack is fast and uncomplicated. Using the search function, even older chats can be quickly searched for keywords.
We coordinate appointments via the calendar function of Google and Calendly.
Calendly is a calendar integration that allows you to coordinate appointments easily within seconds. Instead of having to send emails back and forth with appointment suggestions, you simply share your calendar with the available appointments with your conversation partner and the other person then picks a suitable time. This tool saves an enormous amount of time and ensures that no appointment is missed.
5. Take breaks
“To stay fit the best for me is lunch time workouts. It breaks the day nicely and really recharges me.” –Serena, Virtual Assistant
“What I've really found helpful is to listen to music while I'm working and don't forget to get up every now and then to walk around and stretch your legs.” –Yunika, Admin Support
“My breaks can consist of short walks, just standing and doing some stretching or even going out for a coffee nearby, to breathe different air.” –Diego, Graphic Designer
Breaks and exercise are also important to stay productive. This is not only our personal experience, but also scientifically proven.
Even a short walk activates the metabolism and supplies the body and brain with fresh oxygen. If you cannot move outside due to the current situation, we recommend stretching and breathing exercises at your desk or even in your apartment or on the balcony.
Our tip: During the corona crisis DowndogApp offers all its apps free of charge until April. Here you will find free yoga exercises that you can easily try out at home.
Communication is key
One of the most important factors of successful remote work is good communication. As we are not sitting in the same place on a daily basis we need to ensure smooth communication among the team. In our experience this works best with weekly team calls using video and a chat that is active during office hours. We also connect on WhatsApp for fun and less formal team communication.
We hope our tips are helpful for you!