Adapting to remote working

Posted on March 30, 2020 by Jonathan Smith

In times of uncertainty, acclimatising to change isn’t easy. And adapting to remote working might be adding an extra layer of complexity to an already tough situation. If you’re new to working from home or are feeling overwhelmed by it, we’re here with years of experience running a home-based studio and managing a remote team of freelancers.

Remote working

Make sure you have the right tools

  • It may seem obvious to point out, but a fast internet connection is vital to the success of homeworking. Not only will you need to access your emails, share Google Docs or access materials online, but the quality and stability of video calls require your download and upload speeds to be higher than 600kbps. And for HD calls your up/down connection should be at least 1.2 Mbps. What you’re looking to achieve here is a seamless experience of working so your progress isn’t impeded.
  • Many remote workers invest in items such as noise-cancelling headphones, a wireless keyboard and mouse, or even additional screens to ensure they’re working optimally. It’s not uncommon for us to have various software and tools open, and to support this we have desktop screens to review projects while using our laptop screens for video calls or writing emails.
  • When you’re not in an office with your colleagues, it can be challenging to keep track of activities and achievements. Fortunately, there are several online tools to help you manage this. We’ve recently moved to Notion for project and studio management and creating our ‘second brain’. It can be easy to let progress slip in this new normal, so be sure to support yourself by using tools that help you plan, track and share.

Stay connected with coworkers, clients and peers

  • A critical skill when it comes to working from home is the ability to communicate well. Since you’re no longer as close to your team or clients, make it your job to check-in and manage day-to-day activities as well as ongoing projects. We use Zoom for meetings and Slack for everyday conversations, where we keep it light and not always focused on business, just as we would in any studio environment.
  • Over-communicating is also helpful when it comes to remote working because it’s easy to refine notes and emails to the points where you miss out important details. The inability to speak face-to-face consistently means there will always be gaps when sharing information. So if you’re worried about that wordy email, or adding too much content to your notes, you’re probably sharing just the right amount.
  • Reach out and talk to someone every day. We use a handful of Facebook communities and Instagram to stay in touch with other business owners, so to help you feel supported and connected, we recommend becoming a part of a virtual community within your sector or a group that shares your values. Being “surrounded” by others who are working from home can inspire you to stay productive.

If you find it hard to know where home ends and work begins, perhaps it’s time to set some boundaries.

Personalise your environment

  • Your working style is one of the most important things to consider when working from home. Do you like white noise or do you prefer working in silence? Is it time to create a playlist that you can listen to while working, or do you need to invest in some noise-cancelling headphones? And could you also consider your productivity levels in the morning vs. the evening and whether you need to take small breaks throughout the day? What’s important here is that you’re productive during your best hours, which might be different at home.
  • Our surroundings affect our mindset as well as our performance. No more so than now. And so it might help to create a designated spot at home so you can feel motivated to work. If you don’t have a desk and this happens to be at your dining or kitchen table, pop a few familiar things around you. You could also have a nearby pegboard with your to-do list and motivational quotes or even invest in some new stationery or a planner such as those from Daily Greatness. Some people like to take a minimal approach and prefer just a few items on their desk (Jonathan), others like environments that are more reflective of their creativity (Sarah). But what we do have in common is a need for natural light and vibrant plants, especially now we’re in lockdown and spending more time indoors as a family and a business, so try bringing nature into your space too.
  • Treat your mornings as though you’re leaving your home. Plan your outfit, have breakfast at the same time or go for a walk around the block before you sit at your desk because you always need fresh air before you get down to business. These are simple ways of helping you get into a healthy mindset and make the most of your day. What’s more, there will be no surprises for you when you have to accept that last-minute video call from a client or colleague, and you’re bound to feel more motivated to go live in your Facebook groups or Instagram stories if you’re feeling on top.

Make time for yourself

  • While working for long periods is sometimes necessary when a deadline is looming, creating time for yourself is essential too. If you find it hard to know where home ends and work begins, perhaps it’s time to set some boundaries. Try blocking out the first hour of your day for exercise, taking a long lunch to go for a walk or enjoy a hobby, or finishing at a reasonable time so you can wind down and prioritise sleep. Do whatever it takes to make remote working more supportive for you.
  • Social media, the news, our mobiles. Distractions surround us. And so we have a responsibility to manage them as best we can. We’ve found that deleting non-essential apps, editing our notifications and occasionally turning off our phones has helped in recent weeks. This way, we’re not responding to work emails while we’re enjoying time to ourselves or as a family, and we’re not being interrupted when we’re focusing on a client project.
  • Take care of yourself and others by being mindful of the impact the current climate is having on us all. You can’t see body language, and you don’t know what’s going on in someone’s life, so show up in a supportive way. You could download the Mental Health Action Plan by Mad And Sad Club to help you check-in with yourself and your priorities and make a plan for the coming months with health at its foundation.

Life might look a little bit different at the moment, but if you have the right setup for you, the transition could be smoother than you think. Sarah’s also written a blog about making space for creativity, which might be just the tonic if you’re already working from home but struggling to build inspiration into your days.