For the last month, we’ve swapped our desks at MyWork HQ for home offices, study nooks and sometimes, backyard hammocks (or maybe that’s just our GM, Dan). We’ve traded in the beloved lunchroom espresso machine for Nescafe instant, coffee pods, and takeaways from local hole-in-the-wall cafes.
It’s only been a month, but shifting to remote working has already taught us invaluable lessons about gratitude, productivity, relationships and our capacity to adapt.
Every day, we are learning more about remote working. We’re constantly re-assessing our processes, looking for areas to improve and adjusting accordingly.
But for now, we’ve taken a moment to reflect on the month passed and discuss the challenges of remote working, and how we’ve overcome them.
Challenge #1: Getting into the rhythm
Shifting to remote work has shaken up our routines. The ritual in-house espresso before work is long gone. The pre-9am sweat session at the gym has been put on ice. Even waking up on the daily commute with the help of our favourite podcast is no more.
With no pressure to gussy up in the morning, and no risk of getting caught in peak hour traffic, it can be tempting to hit ‘snooze’ once or twice (or thrice).
All that matters is that you’re awake for that 9am Zoom meeting, right? Wrong.
In a study by the Harvard Business Review on start-of-work-day moods, it was found that overall, employees who started their days in a calm or positive mood generally stayed that way throughout the day. Similarly, those who began their days in a bad mood often felt even worse by the end of the day. The secret here is no secret at all – to set yourself up for a good day, create a morning routine that you enjoy, and stick to it.
Morning rituals some of our staff can’t do without:
Morning Pages involves handwriting your stream of consciousness as soon as you wake up. The aim of writing in this fashion is to unlock creativity, silence self-doubt and center yourself before you get into your work tasks. Just three pages of writing a day can help you produce better ideas, encourage a positive mindset and boost your productivity.
While there’s no bad time to exercise, morning exercise regimes have found their place in the routines of many MyWork staff. A study from The Journal of Physiology found that exercising at 7am can shift your body clock, meaning you’ll feel more alert in the morning and tire earlier at night, increasing your chances of getting a restful night sleep.
Taking a moment for yourself before work kicks off
With the extra time in the morning, there’s no excuse to not take a moment to do what makes you happy. This one looks different for each of us. It could be having a cup of tea and a jalapeño cream cheese bagel in the sunshine. It might be reading a few pages of the book you can’t put down. It can be going on a walk around the block with your partner.
Make small pockets of ‘you’ time as much a part of your morning ritual as brushing your teeth. Trust us – it won’t be long before you notice the benefits.
Challenge #2: Staving off burnout
Working from home can blur the lines between work and life.
Without your commute acting as an indicator of the start and finish of your work day, you might find yourself chipping away at projects well outside of the regular 9-5.
While it might feel natural to put in “just a few more hours” to finish a specific task, to stave off burnout, it’s important to be able to step away from your work and put your mind on other things.
We find it helpful to have a distinguishable work area. A place that is just for getting work done. Not for watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. Not for playing tea parties with the little ones. Just for work.
Having a space you can walk away from when the workday is over will help you shut off from work and equally, make you more productive when you are working.
Challenge #3: Maintaining relationships
The MyWork team is a big family. Not seeing each other in-person for general chit-chat, ping-pong and everlasting (seriously) pictionary games on the whiteboard has been tricky.
Us humans aresocial creatures, after all.
While we work from home, we’ve swapped the in-person watercooler conversation for chats on Slack, made that much better by an exclusive digital #pictionary channel.
To stay connected, we’ve also built Zoom meetings into every workday morning. So far, we’ve had guest appearances from Craig’s dog, Matt’s wife and Dan’s Friday afternoon Negroni.
Thanks to video conferencing and instant messaging, we’ve been able to stay socially connected despite being physically apart.
One thing is for sure though, we’re eagerly awaiting the time when we can grab a hot coffee and sit down with the team for a Monday morning catch up. There’s nothing that beats having the whole team together, in the same room.
Challenge #4: Maximising productivity
When working from home, there’s always a million things you could be doing. The distractions come in thick and fast. From your neighbour’s angle grinder to little ones who don’t understand the concept of ‘inside voice’, there’s always plenty to steal your attention away from your work tasks.
To maximise productivity, we’ve been trying on various methods. It’s important to remember that what works best for you may not be the right fit for your colleague, and visa versa. Our tip: try these methods and stick to them every day for a week. It takes commitment, but it pays off in dividends.
The productivity tips some of our staff swear by:
The Ivy Lee Method
This method is over 100-years old and is still one of the most popular productivity boosters to date. Simply, the Ivy Lee Method is as follows:
- At the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
- Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
- When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
- Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
- Repeat this process every working day.
Imagine your tasks like a course of small hurdles, rather than a giant wall you need to scale
This one is all about the mindset. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a project before you’ve even started, it’s likely because of the way you are thinking about it. Break the task down into small bite-sized chunks and work at it from there. You can’t scale a cliff, but you can hop over rocks.
The Getting Things Done (GTD) Technique
Developed by David Allen, GTD kicks off with a brain dump of all the tasks you have on the go in your life. Once these tasks are laid out, Allen suggests organising them into the following categories:
- Current actions
- Current projects
- Areas of responsibility
- 1-2 year goals
- 3-5 year goals
- Life goals
Once your tasks are written down, it’s time to get to work. Things that don’t take long should be completed as soon as possible, and long-term tasks should be broken down into a series of smaller projects.
As it stands, work from home will continue to be the new normal for the MyWork team until it’s deemed safe to go back to work as usual.
It’s still business as usual for us, so keep checking back to the blog for more articles just like this one and handy insider updates about the industry, our work, and all things web.