By Viviene Ly, Digital Development Manager, AXA Next Lab US
As a result of the viral COVID-19 outbreak, many of us have joined the millions of people around the world working from home, which has been declared a global pandemic as of this week. Many of the world’s leading US-based tech companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Intel, Salesforce, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Twitter have implemented work from home policies in an effort to keep their employees safe and slow the spread of the virus.
After a week of working remotely, our team thought it’d be a great opportunity to share what has been working for us, as well as compile some best practices and tips on what has enabled us to most effectively collaborate and stay connected with each other during this time.
1. Keep in touch and leverage communications tools
Communicate and stay connected with your colleagues! Open lines of communication and building a strong rapport with your team is crucial for maintaining interpersonal relationships while working remotely. Leverage digital tools we have available such as Teams, Skype, email, video conferencing, messaging apps, etc. to facilitate communication and stay in the loop with one another.
Scheduling time for virtual coffee, lunch, happy hours, or even a game of some sort are great ways to connect and remove distance as a barrier between team members. This can fuel collaboration and real-time engagement, increase morale, as well as help prevent feelings of isolation.
For example, our team has scheduled a daily meeting that gives us the opportunity to touch base every morning, keep up to date on our various projects/initiatives, align on priorities, as well as kick-off the day over coffee as we would have done together in the office.
2. Have a dedicated workspace
Maintain a dedicated place where you can focus, free from distractions. This space should be separate from where you eat, sleep, or rest — separating work and home life will help you get into work mode mentality and enable you to work more efficiently.
Decorate your area in a way that makes you feel calm, motivated, and productive. Optimizing your space and adding personal touches (e.g. decorations, framed photos, a desk lamp, plants, etc.) can help create the comfortable working environment you need to get things done.
3. Establish a routine
The value of a solid routine is often overlooked — a thoughtful routine can support impactful mental transitions, as well as provide the structure and organization needed to help us work from home smoothly. Establishing a routine can help kick-off the day on a positive note, and make the important mental shift from relaxation mode to work mode.
For example, doing simple rituals in the morning such as waking up early, getting dressed, making breakfast, doing an early exercise, and preparing for your day as if you were going to the office, can be incredibly effective in reducing mental fatigue and increasing productivity.
According to Northwestern Medicine, a lack of routine can cause people to experience stress, poor sleep, poor eating, poor physical health, and perhaps most importantly for remote work — an ineffective use of time. Find a routine that works for you and follow through consistently.
4. Don’t neglect your well-being
Working from home can get lonely, but it doesn’t have to be! Make sure to schedule time for breaks to do healthy activities that will allow you to refresh and recharge. These activities can help boost morale, increase productivity, improve mental well-being, as well as decrease feelings of isolation.
– Yoga / Stretching
– Home workouts
– Chats with colleagues on topics outside of work
Many companies in the Bay Area actually work remotely permanently and see our current circumstances as the beginning of a shift in workplace dynamics, where working from home will be a common practice.
Here are some additional methods to think about as we adjust to our new work environment: Increased communications via various digital tools (e.g. live open video conferencing), virtual team building exercises to strengthen relations, and connecting regularly on the “why” to maintain a clear vision on the purpose of the team’s work and how it relates to the company’s goals and objectives.