Here at Simplecast, we’re a distributed team, and while we’ll occasionally pop into a co-working space or get the whole band together at a company retreat, we’re usually all in our respective houses and apartments–which means we’re pros at this whole work-from-home thing. We figured, as more states and cities encourage workers to stay home, that we'd share some of our best tips with you to help make the transition a little easier.
Find the advice that works for you
If you’ve got a few other tabs open with other articles about working from home, I’d guess 75% of them mention showering and getting dressed in the morning. Some might even tell you to put on shoes! Me? I’m team loungewear-until-lunch (or at least until my first meeting). Your brain is yours, and you’re the only one who’s going to know what works for it–so if you don’t need to get dressed in the morning, don’t!
Don’t mind the cat
Your coworkers are probably still figuring out their Zoom setup (you all know how to set custom backgrounds, right?), jerry-rigging a home office at the kitchen table, and scheduling conference calls around their roommates’ schedules. Which means you might see a cat, or a kid, or a grocery delivery guy show up during your all-hands. The Simplecast team is pretty good about continuing on whenever we see a Simplecat (or dog)–just try not to get distracted!
This might just be a me thing, but I love cooking lunch when I work from home. I’m a marketer who mainly works digitally, especially now, so it’s nice to make things with my hands. Slicing a bunch of radishes requires my full attention, which gives my brain time to reset when I’ve been scheduling social copy or grinding out blog posts all morning. I like to make things that are relatively quick, like a stove-top orzotto, a giant salad full of thinly-sliced and shaved veggies, or a fancier-than-normal dip. Plus, then you get to brag in your team’s #chopped Slack channel.
Give video chats a shot
Your team might try to keep to the same modes of communication they used when you were all sitting in a room together–so, mainly email, Slack, and phone calls. That’s fine, and learning new technology like Google Meet and Zoom on the fly might feel really frustrating–but I can’t recommend video calls enough. Seeing your team’s faces is way closer to normal than exclusively communicating through text when you’re used to sitting right next to them. If we weren’t using video, I wouldn’t be able to ask my coworkers about their houseplants or compliment them on their new haircut–and that work-adjacent chatter is really important in stressful times like these.
I know, it feels weird to think about success at a time like this, but working from home can be isolating, and chances are you’ll start missing the informal feedback you get from your co-workers. Simplecast has a #wins channel, where we share feedback from happy Simplecast customers and kudos on recent projects. If you’re in crisis mode (like all of us right now), you might only hear about things when they’re on fire, so it’s good to have a reminder of what it looks like when things go right!
Set some communication rules
Slack, Zoom, and working from home all have their own sets of etiquette and rules, and it’s unfair to expect coworkers for whom this is all brand new to catch on instinctively. Each team at Simplecast has their own rules and idiosyncrasies, but we do have a few overarching ones: Online? Set yourself to “active” on Slack. On a big video call? Mute yourself! Heads down 🙇♀️ emoji as your Slack status? You’re in some deep work and won’t be quite as responsive.
If your workplace is suddenly your entire apartment, and vice versa, it can feel hard to actually end your workday. When I first started working from home (and when I wasn’t self-isolating!), I would book exercise classes for right around 6:30. That meant I had to shut my laptop, change my clothes, and do something that wasn’t work-related. I obviously can’t go to my favorite fitness studios anymore, but I can hop off Slack and onto a Netflix Party, or have a standing phonecall date while I take a walk around the block. It’s really important to make sure your work doesn’t seep into every aspect of your day–I can’t think of a quicker recipe for burnout, even under normal circumstances!
Know that this isn’t your normal work-from-home situation
The coronavirus outbreak and its impact are like the Spanish Flu and the Great Depression rolled into one. Maybe you now have kids at home, or parents you’re checking in on–maybe you’ve lost a stream of income. If you’re having trouble concentrating, or feeling overwhelmed when you’re trying to work, it’s probably not just because you’re attending your all-hands meeting from your couch. The last thing to worry about in this situation is whether or not you’re at your most productive–because other than healthcare workers and grocery store checkout clerks, none of us are. Talk to your team about how you’re feeling–chances are you aren’t alone!