With Coronavirus in full swing, many businesses in Australia have been encouraged to have their employees work from home as part of the social distancing approach to slowing the rise of cases.
As a business which has operated as a “work from home” model since the start, we here at Birdcage Marketing want to share what we know about working collaboratively and efficiently whilst not having a centralised office for the team.
Have a designated workspace
If you’re lucky enough to have a home office or spare bedroom, ensure the space is setup for distraction-free work time. This means:
- it has everything you need for your work (i.e. laptop, printer, pens, notebook, and any tools-of-the-trade)
- well lit
- the right temperature (a cooler space will increase alertness)
- comfortable and supportive seating
- music that helps keep you motivated and focused (a Spotify subscription will allow you to choose playlists to match your mood)
- the ability to have phone/video conference calls uninterrupted
- all chargers
If you’re restricted to using the dining table or lounge room, at least ensure you’ve got supportive seating and the area is otherwise clean and tidy. I’ve spent too many hours sitting hunched over my laptop on the couch, only to finish a workday almost paralysed from my ultra-soft couch (which is great for Netflix but terrible for a workday).
I also always make sure I have everything I need so I don’t need to keep walking back into the main part of the house (especially if other family members are home). For me this includes:
- My laptop and charger which I connect to a bigger monitor
- My phone and Airpods for hands-free phone calls
- 2 x 1L water bottles
- Diabetic supplies (I’m a Type 1 Diabetic, so having medication on hand is always a winner)
- My wallet (there’s always something to pay)
Routine and structure is half the battle
Those who routinely work from home will tell you the importance of waking at the same time, making your bed, getting “dressed” (even if this means trackies and a T-shirt – but definitely get out of your PJ’s) and sitting down for work.
Many freelancers I know also have a dedicated routine which they follow to help get them set up for a productive day ahead.
If you’re like me and have children, mornings are inevitably chaotic. But what’s important is that we get up at around the same time each morning, eat our breakfast (for me it’s just an almond latte and a bit of milk for the baby), do a quick tidy of the kitchen, put some laundry on and then head out the door for daycare dropoff. I like to make sure the house is as tidy as possible before I leave with the kids so I come home to a clean space and there aren’t any distractions to keep me from heading into my home office. Otherwise, I’m tempted to spend an hour+ on tidying up (believe it or not, this is one of the most popular forms of procrastination when working from home).
When I do return home, I get everything I need and head into my home office. I then try to dive into projects straight away rather than check emails.
I also always aim to finish at the same time everyday. Sometimes if my husband is picking up the kids I’m able to work longer, but we have a designed “stop work” time which both he and I need so there is a definite end to my workday and we both know when family life can resume.
Use the right online tools
Email isn’t your only option when it comes to online collaboration. In fact, it’s one of our less-used platforms at Birdcage Marketing. For more information on the online tools we use to collaborate and be productive, check out this article.
Have your to-do list ready
I write my to-do list the day before. When I don’t, I feel so reactive (rather than proactive) and that I don’t actually achieve anything in the day. It also helps me prioritise jobs so I’m not left scrambling before I have to leave to pickup kids. It also means that when I have a light-on day I can either spend my time working on the business, or treat myself to a little bit of time away from the computer and not feel guilty about it because I know I’ve covered everything I need to do.
Remember, go outside
When you work from home it’s easy to forget a world exists outside your four walls. Even if you’ve got nowhere to go (and with self-isolation being a thing you probably shouldn’t be going anywhere) it’s still important to get outside into the sunlight.
Whether that’s a quick stroll around the block, or a barefoot walk into the garden, you’ll benefit in all ways by getting outside into some fresh air.
Whilst I’m 100% guilty of smashing lunch at my desk (if I eat lunch at all), I will at least get up in the middle of the day and water the plants or check on our backyard chickens. It makes me feel refreshed and ready to finish off the workday.
Fluffy colleagues are a thing
Sure, it can get lonely working from home. I’m personally an introvert though, so being alone recharges me and is something I need to do when I have a full day of calls booked in. But I love having my dog Murphy sit under my feet and perhaps a visit from one of the feline varieties who apparently live in the house.
With studies showing how pets alleviate stress, how they provide a positive diversion and how they relieve feelings of loneliness, remember to include your furry friend in your daily business affairs.
If you’re opting or have no other option than to work from home due to new COVID-19 precautions, welcome to a whole new way of working.
At Birdcage Marketing we’re doing our bit to support clients moving to a work-from-home model by setting up online tools and systems. If you’re looking for assistance with taking your business more online (whether that’s through eCommerce or online services) get in touch via the website or email me via firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can assist with the transition.