As a cloud-native company, everyone in our team has always been well-equipped to work remotely whenever they need to. Some of us are used to working remotely on a daily basis, and others just work away from the office every once in a while. However, now that we’ve all been working from home for at least a couple of weeks, we wanted to take this opportunity to gather everyone’s learnings and top tips to improve your home working experience.
From preparing for the work day early in the morning, all the way to having the right equipment and set up for your remote meetings, here’s what our cloud transformation experts want you to keep in mind for a productive day at home:
Get ready for work
And we don’t mean just turning on your computer on time. People across our teams shared that maintaining a daily routine helps them get ready and start focusing on the work day ahead. This can go from setting down your priorities for the day or even just taking a shower and changing your clothes.
Professionalise your space
If we learned anything from one of the most circulated videos a few years ago, when a man doing a video conference with the BBC to speak on important international issues had his young daughter dance in behind him—followed by a baby… followed by his partner…followed by their chaotic exit—it's that you need to figure out how to retain an air of professionalism, even if everything is in shambles around you.
People generally understand if you’re working from home, things can go wrong—especially at the moment, when so many people have never been regular telecommuters before. However, it’s important to set a working ‘mode’, to ensure that you can keep a professional environment and avoid disruption whenever possible.
To achieve this, establishing some boundaries for your working space is key. Have a conversation with your housemates or family members to talk about how you plan to work, especially if there are multiple people in the house doing the same. This helps understand everyone’s needs.
Other things like being mindful of what’s in your background and making sure you have the right equipment for video conferencing are also key when it comes to professionalising your home working setup.
Create opportunities to socialise with your team
Now that we’re not sharing the same space, the chances of having spontaneous conversations have reduced. However, just because you’ve stopped seeing your colleagues whenever you get up to make a brew doesn’t mean you should stop having these chats.
Some of our teams have found that regular stand-up meetings work for them, whether for others it’s been a case of having optional end-of-the-day team chats. Even if there are no pressing issues, it’s good to just be in the same place together, virtually. This helps us stay connected and keep our company culture intact while working from home.
Prepare for better meetings
One thing most people agree on is that having your camera on, when possible, makes for a better meeting. It's generally better in terms of engagement as it allows us all to see each other’s emotions and reactions, which helps to humanise the 'virtual' room.
Other tips are around your set up, like sitting in front of a window or a light source, using a webcam sat at eye level or higher, having two monitors if you can and even having something of interest/personal in the background that can serve as a talking point. This can help break the ice during calls and show a bit more about yourself to others.
Take consistent breaks during the day
Everyone talks about how important it is to set some time aside during the day to just pause and step away from your screen, and with good reason. This has been a consistent trick that works for most of our team.
Getting up to stretch, walk around and just look out of the window can really help clear your mind. Having a proper lunch break is a way to ensure this as well. Not just having a sandwich by your desk but actually getting away from your laptop and ‘making’ lunch. This means you get to spend time standing, thinking about something else and potentially even having a chat with someone else in your house.
Keep on communicating
For us, having the right tools in place to be able to communicate is important. Thanks to Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet, we’re able to have more frequent chats and check in with each other in an easier way.
It’s important to also be more proactive in your communication. This doesn’t mean spamming your colleagues every hour, but check in with one another every now and then, to see how they're doing. The same way we’d do when we’re in the office; "Did you manage to solve that Firebase problem you ran into yesterday?", "How's the house-hunting going?", "Any luck on that new lead?", and, most importantly, "Can I be of any help?". This has proven to be essential for team dynamics when we’re all working remotely.
Take advantage of being at home
Apart from saving you some time on your commute, working from home can have many other benefits. If you have a partner, roommate or friend who is also at home, take half an hour to do something you normally don't get a chance to do because you're in the office.
Conjure up a nice lunch to enjoy together. Bake cherry-almond-chocolate muffins. Brew a cup of java or tea, serve with some cookies and sit down and talk for 15 minutes. Build a LEGO set. Whatever it is, just step out of your home working space and savour some time together. Now is as good a time as any.
Set working hours
Finally, as part of your routine, it’s important to establish some boundaries and ensure that you maintain a healthy work-life balance. Having a hard stop at a certain time of the day helps you make sure that you can disconnect from work and focus on other things you’d like to do. If you’d like to learn more about what we’re doing to ensure our wellbeing while working from home, why not read out this blog?