The morning routine is a ritual shared throughout the world. It varies person to person, but there’s a shared experience of waking up, getting yourself prepared, and then starting the workday, usually outside of the house.
So what happens when, almost all at once, that routine gets thrown upside down? That’s what people around the globe are trying to figure out as national emergencies and quarantines have become commonplace as a result of the worldwide pandemic.
The top priority is on health and safety. But businesses are doing their best to be productive, too, and for many employees that means working from home for the time being. That’s true here at Socialbakers, where the digital marketing team has compiled some working from home tips based on our experience.
A lot of companies, including Socialbakers, already offered home office as an option. But in normal circumstances, it’s usually the exception to the normal schedule of coming into the office, and employees usually had the option of working at a cafe, library, or other public place instead of staying at home.
For most people around the world, that’s not an option right now. So for those hunkering down for an indefinite period of remote work, these are some of the remote challenges that you’ll face and how to overcome them.
If you don’t have previous experience working away from the office, the first couple of days might feel like a snow day when school was suddenly cancelled. You’re used to coming home and relaxing, so it can be jarring to instead have to try to turn that same area into a productive workspace.
And depending on your situation, the best place to work from might seem like it’s your bed. This is often a trap because there’s no transition into the working day, so it’s easier to feel like you’re just at home and occasionally doing some work rather than contributing as normal.
TIP: Remote working tools like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and others are crucial right now, so those who already use those or similar tools have a head start. What’s changed is the environment, so you need to honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses as a remote employee.
For many people, it’s important to keep many of the same morning rituals. Get up, shower, and get dressed like you would for a normal day at the office. That way, when you change back into comfortable clothes it’s easier for your brain to switch from work mode into home mode, even though you never left the house.
If your job is connected to social media, it’s a safe bet that colleagues from other departments, your friends or your family have made jokes about you “just sitting on Facebook” the whole workday. But it’s actually not as fun as people may think – it’s a real problem and working remotely just adds fuel to the fire.
If you’re at home doing your thing, it’s extremely easy to let your mind wander and allow your finger to scroll aimlessly through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds. On one hand, seeing what other brands are doing on social media can help you get a broader perspective of what’s trending and learn from best practices. On the other hand, you are kind of wasting your day away, because there are a handful of things with a higher priority on your to-do list.
TIP: One of the best things you can do to combat this is use a social media management platform, because they keep the time you spend on the actual platforms to a minimum. Luckily for us – Socialbakers is just that. Yes, eventually you’ll have to scroll through the feeds natively to stay up to date with what’s going on, but the chances of “accidentally” ending up on an infinite scroll on an Instagram account that posts the same picture of Spongebob every day will be much smaller.
Another key is not using the messaging features of social networking sites as your primary communication channels with the key people in your life. Switch to Slack, Google Hangouts, Whatsapp, or any other messaging app out there. This will also limit your exposure to all the funny memes around.
When you work from home it’s easy to get sucked in completely. Everything you do requires your eyes to be on a screen, from attending meetings to responding to emails. Even when you step away from the screen it’s second-nature to constantly refresh your email on your phone to see if you’re missing anything.
Spending too much time staring at the screen has long-term consequences, such as headaches, eye strain, and increased stress levels. And when you’re working from home it’s easy to forget to take a break.
When you’re in the office you have the ability to engage in casual conversation with colleagues, run to lunch, or have face-to-face meetings. When you’re away from the office, stepping away from your screen is a conscious effort.
TIP: Ideally you should be giving your eyes a 15-20 minute break for every hour you spend on the screen. It turns out that it’s more beneficial to take frequent, shorter breaks than one long break. There are plenty of apps out there that can help you manage your screen time. But there’s even a simpler solution. Just set up a timer for every hour to remind yourself to step away from the screen for a bit. Sooner or later this will become a natural part of your routine.
One of the benefits of working remotely is spending more time with family. There’s no rush to get the kids ready for school before you head to the office and no need to race to beat the evening traffic.
But for those who also have someone else staying home, family can be a major distraction. Whether it’s a partner, family member, or child, someone will always need your attention at the most unpredictable time.
However, don’t let these distractions negatively affect your work or your dynamics at home. With a little communication and boundary setting, you can easily get your work done without yelling at a family member to leave you alone.
TIP: First, create a special space. You don’t necessarily need to have a modern office room (if you do, that’s great). It can be as simple as a small space on the kitchen table or even, if you can be productive in your pajamas, from your own bed.
Second, communicate. Plan out your times and make it clear to your family that you need to focus on work during certain periods. Depending on your work, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a blocked off period between 9-5. Working from home can have some flexibility, and you can set short work periods throughout the day to conveniently fit into your family’s schedule. Just make it clear to your family that this is the time you need to get work done.
Even if you’re speaking to someone in person, think about how often you misunderstand each other. It’s just a part of being human. Errors in communication are impossible to avoid, but when you remove the face-to-face aspect of it, you remove an integral part that helps us connect, understand, and empathize with each other – our body language.
Is there anything you can do about it?
TIP: Start by turning your webcam on. Working remotely, you’ll have to work so much harder to communicate your ideas, objectives, and requirements. Use more cues than you normally would – if you aren’t sure about something, ask questions.
But even more importantly, be a human, not a work-bot. Don’t keep it all work-related. You’d be surprised how much of our day-to-day in the office is spent trying to relate to each other. Move it online too.
The benefits of open-ended communication are usually taken for granted until you work remotely. Your first week out of the office, you’ll realize that bottlenecks in your work arise daily that would normally be resolved with a quick shout across the room. This is especially true for marketers, who rely on dynamic communication since their expectations and deliverables are often more abstract and subjective.
After your second week working remotely, you’ll also begin to realize that it’s much more difficult to align expectations across team members when you don’t have the level of open-ended communication that working in-office offers.
TIP: Working remotely means that you’ll have to be much more mindful of how you structure your workday. Tasks that have more ambiguity and moving parts should be worked on before meetings with corresponding team members so you can ask important questions and have productive conversations.
When you work remotely, deadlines are no longer the most important thing you need to pay attention to. You need to take into account who you’ll be interfacing with on a daily basis in order to optimize your productivity and eliminate potential bottlenecks.
Socialbakers is the trusted social media management partner to thousands of enterprise brands and SMBs. Leveraging the largest social media data-set in the industry, Socialbakers’ AI-powered social media marketing suite helps brands large and small ensure their investment in social media is delivering measurable business outcomes.