It’s a unique situation with the Covid-19 pandemic, as many of us are now being asked to work from home in an effort to minimise the spread of the virus.
There are many challenges to making this a successful transition:
- How do I communicate with my colleagues?
- How can I receive and transfer phone calls to my team?
- How can I keep up contact with my customers?
- Can I access files from work so I can serve my clients effectively?
Most of the above can be taken care of through technology (we have written a post on it here), but what about the other more personal challenges—like staying focussed or avoiding the dreaded ‘cabin fever’?
Argon have been working remotely for well over a year now and our processes are as robust as you can get. We have everything in place to reach out to each other as well as our clients.
We asked the team at Argon to share some of their personal experiences, tricks or strategies that make them stay focussed and productive while still enjoying the life balance of not having to spend three hours a day travelling to work and back!
I love to take the dog for a walk, listen to my own personal music collection at whatever volume I like and without interruption.
I like to tackle my day just as if I was in the office as this helps keep the routine, and make sure I avoid the temptation of working in my underwear (even though I could!). I always work from my study as this has been set up specifically for work and helps keep me on track. Chatting with colleagues on the phone or via internal messaging also keeps up the banter and interaction.
I like to move around when working from home. Sometimes I go to our outdoor area for some fresh air and sun, which we seem to have plenty of at the moment.
Regular exercise without going to a gym! I used to ride my bike to the office to keep up my fitness, but since we started working remotely I gained a little weight! I started using a fitness app to do some exercise before getting ready to start work, but the app increased its annual fee so now I use YouTube!
There are heaps of exercise videos and it’s easy to try different ones for free! There are some advanced ones which make me push a bit more each day. Not sure if it’s a good thing to do exercise at night, but definitely I can sleep well and feel refreshed in the morning.
1. First thing in the morning I write a ‘To Do’ list based on emails that need responding to, tasks to be completed and phone calls to be made. I’ve tried a few different digital ways of doing this (adding to a Calendar, using Google Tasks lists and so on but find I usually revert to the handwritten list). It’s very satisfying to tick them off through the day!
2. I choose two or three of the most pressing items and get them done first, then reward myself mid-morning with a walk (with or without the dog) to the local cafe for a coffee—hopefully I can continue to find a coffee, otherwise I may have to revert to a Nespresso in a travel cup and walk.
3. Also, it’s easy to put off the tasks you don’t really want to do (maybe they take a long time, are boring, or other tasks always seem more urgent), but once a week or so it’s good to make them the priority and get them off the list once and for all!
My tip is to work from different rooms of the house. This seems to make the day go faster and feel less isolated. I have a home office setup with an extra screen but sometimes I might work on the dining room table or in one of the other rooms, next to a window or on the balcony just to mix things up.
I’m on the phone quite a bit so I usually pace around the garden to get some fresh air while talking. I also invited a client for a coffee catch up and we each sat at our dining tables having a drink while using Facetime on the iPad. That seemed to work well—it was business-focussed, but casual and similar to how I usually like to chat with clients. I might do a bit more of that as video makes it much more personal than just a phone call!
I am big on moving around the place and working in different areas depending on what I’m doing at the time. Sometimes it’s more convenient to use two screens so I sit at my home office. Other times if I’m just answering emails then I can work just about anywhere and if it’s a nice day I will often go outside.
One of the best things about working from home is the ability to time shift your day almost ad hoc. E.g. I can start work at the same time that I used to leave and catch a train and can be an hour and a half into it before customers start to call or go to their desks and that may give me the opportunity to pick the kids up from school which is something I couldn’t do before.
A lot of us are now in the same position of working from home and trying to do the tasks we have traditionally done in an office.
Technologically, in most cases, the transition to working remotely can be done fairly easily but the more personal challenges are the ones that may need a little more effort.
A final thought: for your own sanity, as the office and the home now become one, when you’ve finished for the day make sure you shut down your PC! It’s much too easy to be ‘at work’ 24/7 when you’re working from home so make sure to have a plan so you can separate work from your home and family life.