Everything is very uncertain at the moment. Our daily routines have been disrupted by a virus which none of us could have predicted, and we are all doing our best to adapt to this new way of working. Although LEAP have very busy, sociable offices, we are also able to adapt very quickly to become a completely virtual company – last year we heavily invested in secure virtual server technology and had no idea at the time just how beneficial this would become.
Working from home is a familiar routine for 1.5 millions employees but for the other 32 million of you – working from home might be something you are not used to and the change in environment can affect everyone in different ways. – Source: bbc.co.uk 2019
We’re hoping by you reading this blog, it will help to minimise the unfamiliarity and to try and help you operate as efficiently as possible – we’re here to give you a helping hand. So if you’ve now been told to work from home, what’s the best way to stay efficient and keep your spirits up?
1. Go to ‘work’
Spare bedroom? Kitchen table? Garden shed? Wherever your new place of work may be, our advice is to get up and get dressed. It’s too easy to get caught up in the home lifestyle and then it becomes hard to switch between ‘working mode’ and ‘home mode’.
“Try to stick to a routine. Get yourself ready for the working day as you normally would – that means getting dressed for work!” – Julian, Digital Designer
Although I’m sure we’d all love to sit in our PJ’s all day, it’s definitely not going to give you the motivation you need – save that for the weekend!
2. Set up your working environment
In an ideal world, remote employees would usually have a dedicated office in their house to help create an efficient ‘working environment’. However, none of us could have been prepared for what is currently happening, and not all of us have the luxury of having an office at home. If you fall into this bracket, then there are many other ways to help distinguish an environment in which you can work productively. Sit at a table or desk and really try to maintain healthy posture, this really will make a world of difference and your shoulders and back will thank you for it.
Danny, our Head of Moving Image is up running and ready with his virtual production suite. “It’s great to have my home system all ready and fully set up. I have full access to all our software and folders so I can work on projects directly. I also have the office landline all setup so clients can reach me as normal.”
We have all encountered those awkward conference calls where tech can let us down. If you haven’t seen this clip, it is very funny, but for some, very true. Now more than ever we need to be prepared this will become a way of life, for the immediate future at least.
“Allow an additional 10-15 minutes ahead of client calls to get your equipment set up so you are ready to go. Various conferencing tools require different set ups, so ensure you can access and there are no technical issues that will impact the productivity time for your call.” – Kelly, Project Manager
3. Stick to a routine and make a daily plan
‘For mental wellbeing, a routine can help define your boundaries between work and play. As long as you stay safe a short walk outdoors before work can help you get into the right headspace for productivity. Or take your walk after work, as this can define the end of the day so you can come home to your family relaxed and connected.’ – Tom, Creative Designer
If you don’t create a regular schedule or a daily plan it’s extremely easy to become disorganised. Even if you have all the resources in the world, not using your time wisely can cost you. It’s really important to remain on top of everything whilst working at home, so you remain productive and positive at all times!
“Make a schedule for each day with set times for tasks and breaks, you may not stick to it but it gives you a plan and gives you some guidance for the day.” – Sara, Client Services Director
4. Keep in touch with everyone!
There are now tons of ways that you can communicate with your work colleagues across the globe. We use a number of online tools ranging from Slack, Google Docs, Trello, GoToMeeting… to name a few.
This week in our new virtual office environment we have a scheduled 9.30am daily team video call to catch up and keep everyone connected.
It is so important to talk and communicate with your colleagues daily as well as your friends and families. Without as much daily human contact, it’s easy to become isolated and lonely so make sure you’re keeping in contact with everybody you can.
“Myself and a friend are having a daily FaceTime call to make it feel like there’s someone else around – it’s an easy way to keep connected.” – Laura, Account Manager
Virtual cuppa anyone? We would hate the thought of anyone struggling with the lack of human contact. Please feel free to get in touch with us through one of our social channels or even feel free to drop us an email. We are here for everyone.
5. Manage distractions
Ping, buzz, ding, dong, ring….BBC News alerts, WhatsApp messages, Facebook notifications. Honestly, how can we get any work done with all these distractions? It is really hard, especially when we are all glued to the news at the moment.
If you are not used to working from home and you are not in your familiar environment it can be extremely easy to let your mind wander. You know, when you need to get that important document completed and then you find yourself watching baby goats on YouTube. We all have distractions and it is going to be especially challenging for those with kids now at home – but that is a whole other blog post.
Where you can, turn off your notifications on social media platforms and news alerts. Schedule news breaks into your daily plan so that you allocate time to reading the news, or answering text messages. Try to keep your focus to one task at a time.
“I turn off notifications for all my apps during work and just check my emails and Slack every so often. This ensures I stay focused on the task in hand.” – Taylor, Account Executive
6. Take scheduled breaks and exercise
Use the opportunity to do some exercise. I am planning to do a HIIT workout in my lunch break – I would never be able to do that in the office. – Sara, Client Services Director
LEAP has many tips and advice for home exercise… we are actually wondering if we should start our own YouTube channel – LEAP Fitness anyone?
Breaks increase productivity, efficiency and creativity; working for long periods of time without breaks leads to an increase in distractions as well as stress and exhaustion. It refreshes your mind allowing it to become more creative whilst also replenishing your mental resources.
“Personal wellbeing is as important as productivity so ensure you take regular breaks throughout the day to move, my Fitbit vibrates as a reminder that I need to move, even if only to refill my water” – Kelly, Project Manager
If you’re not in isolation, then it’s also good if you can try to get out of the house for a bit – walk around the block, or go for a run.
“Remember to move. Doing the 30 Day Yoga Challenge with Adrienne is a way to keep you moving each day, help improve your posture, work out any aches and who doesn’t love a challenge?” – Laura, Account Manager
Danny Coster, our Head of Moving Image, has even had a pull up bar installed (we’re expecting him to return with arms like Arnie).
7. Make time for your family
Without structure, you can risk being completely unproductive. Then throwing children in the mix our household environments are going to become new territory for all of us and we are going to have to quickly find a new normal – things potentially are going to be challenging. By separating our work environment and home life as much as we can within our households when we switch back to ‘home mode’ we can be as present as possible at the end of the day and be there for the people that matter most. So make sure you switch off your emails at the normal time, anything non-essential can always wait until tomorrow, and enjoy your downtime with your family as you usually would.
8. Sharing pet photos
If anyone is winning at the moment due to the isolation… it has to be our pet nation. One of our favourite things since switching to a virtual office is spending more time with our four-legged friends – and seeing all our colleagues’ pet photos. To finish off on a light note, here are some of our LEAP cats and dogs.
Roger recently adopted a rescue dog from Romania. He has only been with them for 5 days, so a great time for some bonding. Meet 4 year old Sydney.
Meet Dave Carter’s cat ‘arry’
Meet Digby, Neil Essam’s work companion.
And finally… Tony Chamberlain has the pleasure of Marley.
This is a challenging time for a lot of individuals and businesses with the uncertainty of what’s to come, but at LEAP, we’re here to help anybody in whatever way we can.
Keep an eye on our social channels or subscribe to our new email sign up where we’ll be keeping you updated with all our latest blogs and news – keep safe everybody.