We Asked Our Remote Team Members How to Survive Working From Home

We Asked Our Remote Team Members How to Survive Working From Home

March 31, 2020

Author: Shelly Weaver-Cather

A lot of us are rolling into our second or third week working from home full time and we’re learning what does and doesn’t work for us day by day. At first it was kind of fun—laughing at custom Zoom backgrounds, rolling straight out of bed to Monday morning stand ups, cracking into a White Claw as you wrap your last call—and not a moment before, of course.

We’ve lost track of where our pants are, some of us are competing to see just how far dry shampoo will take us, and our roommates and significant others are now on a first name basis with our bosses.

It’s been… well, let’s say a learning curve for most of us.

But now, the culture shock is wearing off, and it’s settling in that this might be a long term situation. If you’re like a lot of our team members, you’re wondering how to maintain a work-life balance when work is now your life and your life is now work.

Luckily for the majority of Tuft & Needle employees that just started working from their kitchens, patios, and guest rooms, we have the wisdom of the dozens of already-remote T&N team members to help us get by.

Here are their go-to tips. We hope they are as helpful to you as they have been to us!

Set some ground rules

An overwhelming theme from the T&N remote team is the importance of setting boundaries between work and family. We’ve all seen the CNN clip of the kiddo wandering through her dad’s remote call and, while we’re all practicing a lot of grace for each other with schools out and daycares closed, one of our engineers Andrew has a helpful system for working at home with the family.

“Laying some ground rules on when you will be available to your family is one of the most effective means of curbing distractions for me. My family knows that I won’t be available in the mornings. Then any meetings that I have throughout the day I try to let my wife know about so that she is aware. I also had to install a lock on my office door in order to prevent little ones from just walking right in.”

Brooke F., head of PR, knows when to shut down. “Setting Slack hours is good, too. And when I’m done for the day, I shut the computer and put it away.”

Speaking of being done for the day, Darin, on of our designers, shared a helpful tip to make sure you’re wrapping up your work day without getting stuck in your home office way beyond quittin’ time. “Set an alarm for the end of the work day. When I first started to shift to full-time remote, I found myself working much longer because there was no signal of the end of the work day (i.e. other people leaving). You’re also already in your home, so there’s not a sense of commute time that would typically make you want to finish work and leave.”

Keep a morning routine.

So many of our remote team recommended still getting up, showering, getting dressed, and creating a morning routine that works for you. Brooke K., one of our designers, has some great tips to get the day started.

“Definitely have a morning routine—get dressed even if it’s just day pajamas vs night pajamas and make some coffee or breakfast or do some stretches before going to your computer. Don’t check Slack/emails until you’re ready to start working.”

Take advantage of it a little

When you’re in the office, it’s go go go until quitting time. When you’re at home, the key word is flexibility. You can take a Netflix break, or a get a load of laundry done, and still have plenty of time to tackle your job.

Raleigh, one of us newtoremotework folks, is already seeing some benefits from being at home. “One good thing about WFH is that I can fit a workout in the middle of my day.”

Brooke K. put it best: “There’s no shame in not feeling productive during such a big transition. Breaking up your work day with household chores, coffee breaks, or playing with your little ones might create some guilt at first, but taking longer breaks when you do have the time might be better for us in the long run. Facing a long period of social distancing means we have to take care of ourselves to stay sane.

Get some sun

When switching to remote work, you quickly realize that your commute, the walk from the parking lot, and running out for lunch allows you to get a lot of fresh air throughout your day. Working from home doesn’t lend much time outdoors

Almost every single person we talked to mentioned getting outside and taking a walk midday to clear your head and get away from the computer for a bit.

Beatriz, our head of UX and Customer Research, likes to balance a busy day of calls with workouts in the morning.

Days that I know I’ll have lots of meetings and I know I’ll be sitting down for the most part I prioritize workout time. I feel working out before starting my days helps boost my productivity, I feel better about myself, and even before my work day start I already feel like I’ve accomplished something!

Structure your productivity differently

In an office setting, its easier to get uninterrupted time to work at your desk, but home with your roommates, family, or even just your dog can lead to a lot of distractions.

One of our engineers Tommy recommended implementing a timer system to approach tasks. The Pomodoro Technique is helpful. A simple timer. The default is usually set to 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes off. Currently, with my kids at home it’s 45 minutes of work and 15 minutes of child face time. It helps focus work and keep you sane so you stop to eat and just be human.”

Try it with your phone timer or use an app, like this Be Focused Timer.

Working from home for the next few weeks might be a tough transition for some of us, but it’s just that—a transition. It might be weird at first, but half of the global workforce is trying to figure it out right alongside you. Have a lot of patience for yourself, your team, and embrace what works.

We’ll leave you with some encouragement about the benefits of working from home from Brooke F.

“As someone who has worked remote and in office for the same company over the years, you realize how much time is spent on the inbetween moments in the office—an extra minute talking to someone at the coffee bar, walking alllllll the way to the bathroom and back, hallway conversations, impromptu meetings, etc. Your schedule at home doesn’t include this and as such, you’re hopefully a bit more productive and finding yourself getting your work done quicker and finding new problems to solve.”

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