With millions of we Brits now working from home, amid the spread of the Coronavirus, we thought it might be helpful to share our top tips on how “The Constant Media “ (TCM) has managed, successfully, to run and grow a remote based development agency for over 10 years. We hope the following helps – somewhat. Certainly: our company has noticed a significant increase in productivity since going fully remote!
Going remote could be one of the best things you do as a business. That said : it could be an absolute anxiety-inducing nightmare. It all depends upon how you approach the start (and the pathway) of each and every day.
What we can say with confidence is that the pros absolutely outweigh the cons. I, as CEO, am personally really proud of our super productive and talented global team. Their energy levels, especially first thing in the morning, are phenomenal; much of that simply comes down to the absence of a long, draining commute.
Effective communication is our not so secret, secret weapon. We’ve tried and tested umpteen different tools, over the years, to find the perfect solutions for our business and they are at the heart of how we work.
Here are our Top 10 ways of surviving the lock down without losing your mind and your mojo in the process.
1.Dress to Impress
It may seem like a perk to login in your loungewear, but just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Get up, get showered, get dressed. Getting dressed for your day adds a dose of professionalism which will extend to your workday. How you look really does make a difference to how you feel.
Properly prepared, I find that, when I step into my home office, it feels like a professional place of work and I’m off to a productive start.
2.Get Moving like you’re Commuting
Nothing starts the day on a more energetic note than a little exercise. Use the time, which you would normally use for your daily commute, to squeeze in some “me” time. This could involve some light yoga or a full on hard-core boot camp session that streams directly to your TV – or, if you are able to isolate yourself from others – simply take a walk.
3. A Quiet Place & Great Tech
It’s important to have a space that is a dedicated workspace. It doesn’t have to be a full-on office but you will need to have the basics, such as a laptop / desktop and a really good Internet connection.
If you can push the boat out a little, a good headset goes a long way when taking calls from clients and colleagues, as does a good webcam.
I personally use a wireless Jabra Evolve headset which does an incredible job of getting rid of any background noise (including screaming kids).
Your keyboard and mouse matter too, depending upon your setup. If you’re using external displays you won’t want to be stretching across your desk to use your laptop’s keyboard. Not only are the extra devices more versatile, but they can do wonders for your working at home experience.
4.If you Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
Before you hit the thick of it, take a few minutes to work out what your priorities are for the day. This sounds like a no-brainer but more often than not, we’re pushed and pulled away from core priorities into lots of distracting directions.
Whilst there is always room for spontaneity, contingency, and the odd emergency, there is also huge satisfaction to be derived from ticking off items from your do list.
5.Beware of the Occupational Hazard – The Fridge!
There are so many potential distractions when working from home; the fridge is one of them! It is oh so easy to get caught up in unhealthy habits that are, arguably, more avoidable in the traditional office environment.
As preachy as it sounds: Sticking to healthy snacks, regular drinks of water, and the odd treat will keep your body energised and the mind productive.
6. Don’t get lonely – Get talking
Working from home can be lonely to begin with, especially if you are new to it. Catch-ups at the coffee machine, and office banter are hard to replace!
However, here at TCM we don’t let distance between colleagues get in the way. We touch base every morning, followed by team / project meetings throughout the day. We adapt our tech. to cater for each experience, both internally and with our clients.
“Slack” is an awesome tool for collaboration on projects. We use both Skype and Zoom for communications, and ample Google shared docs. We also like to experiment with new tools, depending upon the work in hand.
The key thing is to ensure that you are still having the interactions you need to get your job done, yet stay sociable and sane.
7.Log out of the Social Channels
Unless it’s crucial to your work, turn off your social channels to avoid any unnecessary distractions.
You can always catch up on the latest viral Tik Tok challenges, or those cat-memes in your lunch break!
8.Working from home – with kids
This is, for most, by far the biggest challenge any parent will have to deal with. There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution here.
The important thing is to be realistic about what you are able to do, and when, and then to manage expectations accordingly.
Have the talk – If you cannot shut away domesticity completely, toddlers and older kids are more than capable of understanding that they need not to disturb, if Mummy or Daddy need to work. Whether or not they listen is a different story. Partners also need to agree that mixing work with domestic tribulations can be stressful, unprofessional and limiting – and therefore need to discuss manageable strategies.
Run some drills. – Practising some common scenarios with kids is a great way to role-play what the ideal situation should look like. That said : assuring kids – often – that you are there for them when you are not working is probably most prudent of all.
Offer incentives / bribes….whatever you want to label them! Dodgy this one – but kids like to be rewarded, be this with a sticker chart or with more screen time! Either way, we can guiltily confess, it has proved to be effective!
9.Say “Good-bye” to meetings for the sake of meetings
We’ve all had our calendars clogged up with them: pre-meetings, decision -making meetings, innovation meetings, status meetings. The list is endless, and the time spent can be aimless – often only to be followed up by another tortuous meeting to sort out the first!
Without a clearly stated objective of : What ? Why? By Whom? By When? … meandering becomes visibly obvious to the team. That is not to say there is no place for banter or kindnesses but best not to waste time and lose sight of the purpose of a meeting in the process.
At TCM, there is a very direct correlation between cutting out these time suckers and our team’s productivity. We don’t do meetings for the sake of meetings – ever! And as a general rule, 30 minutes for a meeting is plenty – no one’s concentration level works longer than that..let’s be honest.
10.Break it Up
Taking regular breaks is a great way to keep the energy levels high throughout the day. Use the time to clear your mind, grab something good to eat and get some air. You will come back feeling better for it.
You could even try a power nap, although it’s not for everyone, and we don’t recommend popping into your pj’s and jumping into bed. A relaxing chair or sofa should do the trick , it’s like a little magic pill!
We hope, in some small way, that you have found this helpful, and if you would like to know more about remote working, or how TCM could help you, feel free to get in touch. It’s business as usual for The Constant Media, so we are here and happy to help!