At After Digital, we have had the capacity to work from home for many years now and so, with the recent outbreak of Coronavirus, our entire team is now working remotely; along with millions of other people all over the world...
We are lucky that we work within the digital landscape, so it is relatively easy for us to keep the business running nearly as normal with the team dispersed across the country. However, for many, working entirely from home for the foreseeable future is a new and daunting prospect. As old hands, we thought we would rally the team and give you our top tips, secrets and best practices on how to work from home, keep productive and be happy.
1. Routine, routine, routine
One of the biggest recommendations that our marketing and delivery teams gave was either create a new routine for yourself or stick to your normal routine as if you were in office. Our Brand Executive, Natalie said: “I find that sticking to my regular working hours helps me keep in-line with my regular schedule, granted my almost hour-long commute in the morning and evening has been taken out of the equation, but starting around 9 am and finishing at 5.30 pm helps keep the normality for me!”
Working at home, you can be surrounded by so many distractions whether that is the TV, snack cupboard or even your children being around, so having a routine will help you stay focussed and motivated. Waking up at the same time every day, stopping for a coffee break at the same time or even having a routine work schedule will help you stay productive while working from home.
2. Take regular breaks
Another favourite amongst the team was making sure you are taking regular breaks. Let’s face it, it can be easy to let time fly by without realising and then by the end of the day you haven’t stopped for a break; especially if you have no calls planned in. This is not productive in the long term, so make sure you are getting away from your workspace to recharge and energise! Our design team are big coffee lovers and enjoy stopping for coffee breaks in-between tasks.
“I take fairly regular breaks as my desk chair isn't as comfortable/appropriate as the office ones. And coffee... lots of coffee.” - Stef, UX Designer
“There's plenty of my favourite coffee in the cupboard, guaranteed to keep productivity high!” - George, UX Designer
3. Communication is the key!
For lots of remote workers, loneliness is a real struggle, especially for those who are not used to working on their own from home. We are lucky that we have digital technologies such as WhatsApp, Google Hangouts and Slack to help us stay in touch with our colleagues and clients!
“We communicate regularly through G-Chat and Google Hangouts. The marketing team is always chatting away about what we're working on and bouncing ideas off of one another, so it's important to keep that up when we're working remotely. One of our Digital Producers, Mhairi, has also set up a fun Slack channel that lets us share insights into how we work remotely and little bits of our homes and workstations. It's been a nice way to keep that personal element to the team, even when we're out of the studio.” - Natalie, Brand Executive
In this period of self-isolation, it’s also important to stay in touch with friends and family, so we recommend catching up over WhatsApp group chats and group FaceTimes to ensure your social life doesn’t take a huge hit. However, our developer, James, has other ideas...
“I am thinking of popping down to Argyle Street, grabbing myself a few pigeons and training them as messengers. I'm slightly sceptical that this country's internet infrastructure will be able to handle the copious amounts of Netflix and Disney+ viewing in the weeks to come”. - James, Developer
4. Pretend you're going to work
Although every member of the AD team has a laptop which enables them to work remotely throughout the year, most of the team have taken home their screens, mouses and even desk plants to ensure they keep their workday as normal as possible!
“For this period of home working, which could be quite extended, I took home a large screen, a keyboard and mouse so I would not be hunched over a laptop.” - Lindsay, Digital Producer
Although tempting, it’s so important to get out of bed, showered and dressed each day to put you in the right frame of mind for a day's work. Plus, who wants to answer a last-minute video-call in their PJs?
“I've also made sure I'm wearing something I would normally wear to work every day and, if I fancy it, dressing up a bit. Someone told me wearing shoes whilst working would help productivity but my slippers have definitely more heavily featured so far.” - Mhairi, Digital Producer
5. Plug in, tune out
“What’s that, I can't hear you? Plenty of lo-fi hip hop and house playing throughout the day keeps me at a nice pace without being too overwhelming” - George, UX Designer
In our Glasgow and Manchester offices, we have a Sonos sound system as the team love listening to music while working away on different projects. Music helps some people conecntrate and de-stress while working. However, interestingly enough, some team members have been enjoying listening to the radio as it reduces loneliness and makes them feel part of a wider community outside their four walls at home.
“I like to have the radio on, keeps me entertained and feels there is a bit more community, albeit remotely.” - Gill, Studio Manager
While others in the team are enjoying the distance from our eclectic Sonos playlists and thriving in quietness at home.
“I'm lucky enough to live quite rurally with a nice garden space, so when I am writing or doing any intense planning, it's nice to be able to open the window and listen to the birds – or my neighbour, Colin, furiously mowing the grass.” - Natalie, Brand Executive
6. Window views
Some members of the team have suggested that working next to, or near a window is really helpful for being more productive. Knowing when it’s beginning to get dark is a great indicator that it is time to shut off for the evening, and start winding down and relaxing. Being near natural light has also been shown to improve happiness and keep people calm during the working day.
7. Stay active
If you are lucky enough to get out of the house for some fresh air, then we highly advise doing this. Exercise naturally boosts endorphins which increases happiness, enjoyment and concentration levels, meaning when you come back to work you’ll be more productive and creative! If you find yourself in a creative block, try going for a walk or finding a home workout on YouTube!
“I'm planning on taking lunchtime walks and perhaps taking a few YouTube yoga classes too. It's been quite sunny recently so I'm really eager to go out for a (socially-distanced) stroll! - Julia, UX Designer
“I'm a big walker. I like to go for a walk in the morning before I start, at lunch and then at the end of the day. Drink plenty of water and get up and move around every hour.” - James, Developer
Sitting hunched over your laptop isn’t healthy either, so remember to keep stretching every so often to make sure you maintain good posture.
8. Keep up with your hobbies
It’s a strange and uncertain time, and with gyms, cafes, restaurants and social spaces closed for the time being, it is important we try and keep our spare time as normal as possible. The AD team have a number of hobbies and activities they enjoy in their spare time; from horse riding, dancing, running, music and art; they are using their creativity and a little extra free time to enjoy their hobbies whilst at home.
“I will be out of the house early to muck out my horse and, if the weather is nice, I’ll head out for an hour of happy hacking.” - Lynn, Digital Marketing Manager
“With all the gyms closed, I am going to aim and go for a run down the beach (I live in Ayr) or take online workout/yoga classes via youtube most lunchtimes or evenings.” - Kali, Junior Brand Executive
Organisations are utilising streaming tools to reach audiences who are self-isolating across the globe. Museums and art galleries are hosting virtual tours, zoos are showcasing animal activities, theatres are uploading footage of previous shows and gyms are live streaming home workouts.
How are you staying productive and happy whilst working remotely? How is your organisation using digital technologies and creativity to combat the issues created by the Coronavirus? If you have something you’d like to share, tag us on twitter @AfterDigitalUK or email us below!