Julia Weigel has recently joined our (remote working) team, which means she is working from home! She also makes herself publicly available through lectures such as in the InnovationsCentrum Osnabrück (2019 “Working Location-Independently Despite Permanent Employment”) and through the introduction of Remote Work in start-up companies for more courage in the remote sector.
Above all, we were able to win Julia for us as Squad Manager because we can give her the flexibility and self-determination she needs for a fulfilling and highly productive working life.
That the current situation is not only a crisis but also an opportunity has already been described in our article “Home Office during the coronavirus crisis: THE opportunity to transform your team!” In addition, we have now asked Remote-Native Julia to write down her best tips and above all motivators for the time in the home office for us – and thus for you.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
1. Take the Opportunity to increase Productivity!
In addition to the Corona Five and the Big Five For Life, I have collected two top-five for successful remote working. This list can, of course, be extended and adapted considerably, depending on the field of work.
5 Tools to Use when Working from Home
- Slack – let’s say it’s WhatsApp for work, but keep focused on work-related topics!
- Zoom, Skype or Hangouts – and yes, you can turn on the camera without any problems 😉
- Office 365 – who doesn’t know it, the tool-haunch by Microsoft?
- Confluence – a perfect documentation tool
- Trello – for visually appealing Project Management
5 Mindset Strategies
- Visualization of the daily routine. The more detailed, the better. Gladly also colorful and positive visualization.
- “You get what you focus on” – focus on solutions, not problems.
- Make a conscious decision in the morning: “Today is my working day!”
- “Stay in alignment with yourself.” Anger, anger, grief, stress means you’re not in alignment with yourself. You can change this by finding the positive in the current situation or by doing something else that is positive for you. Only when you are in harmony with yourself will you be able to perform productive work and increase your satisfaction.
- Positive thinking. Write down three things every day that you like about yourself or your everyday life! Especially in times of social distancing, it is sometimes difficult to keep your courage. But it will pass faster with a few tricks, I promise!
2. Home Office Productivity Booster
Inspire yourself and your team by increasing your productivity with Remote Work! Here Julia shares with you the steps that will help you to achieve this:
- Use the time you gain by not having to go to work and introduce a morning routine (or take a time slot out of it).
- Perform a daily check-in with teammates of at least 10 minutes
- Structure is the key! Structure your working day with Timeboxing
- Focus on the positive! If you can’t get anything positive out of a current challenging task, devote yourself for a moment to another energizing activity and then return to the original task with fresh energy.
- Start each day with “what REALLY matters” and turn off any communication tools (slack, e-mail, mobile phone, phone, etc.). This period can be blocked for three hours.
- Use your mobile phone only during your breaks (unless you need it to do your work)
- Arranged calls. Avoid spontaneous calls that upset you and your team members.
- Set priorities for the day (use tools like Trello) & be aware of your goals, KPIs and OKRs
- Treat yourself: Regular small breaks, a glass of water every half hour, even a round of getting up…
- Follow your “done” status / “done list” and enjoy it!
- Balance your energy balance by cooking for you, reducing your coffee consumption, and, if possible, going out into the fresh air – balcony and a few deep breaths at the open window are enough.
- Never forget to reward yourself!
By the way, these tips also apply to all non-HO activities ☺
3. If the Battery’s Dead…
All well and good, but what happens when you have the same four walls around you for a long time? When you sit there “all alone”? When communication with other people only takes place digitally and you have no possibility to move around freely for a given reason?
No matter if you have just started with Remote Work or have years of experience, working from home can have a negative impact on motivation. The following scenarios can happen to you! I will help you with simple tips to rediscover your motivation!
Boredom. The ceiling falls on your head.
Try a new activity every week in your spare time. Be it a new book, a new game, cooking a new recipe, rehearsing your favorite song, or meditating. Haven’t you always wanted to … learn xyz? Be creative!
You feel lonely.
In your free time, consciously surround yourself with people who inspire you. Agree on fixed days in the week. A virtual exchange, e.g. by video call via Skype, zoom, hangouts & Co, is quickly and easily implemented. Social Distancing is hard and therefore we should use the possibilities to share a little closeness!
Your concentration is decreasing.
If it is possible for you, go for a moment to another activity. Distract yourself consciously. In the best case, you combine the distraction with physical activity. Then return to your actual activity.
You would rather do laundry or play with your dog than do your job.
Make a conscious decision. Make a conscious decision to do the laundry or play with your dog. Or make the following decision: “Today is my working day!” Even say it out loud!
You feel “cut off” from the world.
Instead of mostly watching the news and browsing social media, call your friends and family. Ask them consciously how you feel! You’ll be amazed at what you can find out by asking open questions.
You miss your colleagues.
Introduce a virtual coffee break. Organize a regular virtual meeting for you and your favorite colleagues, e.g. with the help of Zoom, to exchange ideas. Attention: Professional topics are forbidden in this context! 😉
You simply don’t enjoy working in a home office.
HO is not everybody’s passion. If you should be in this situation nevertheless and cannot actively change it at the moment, then think about how you can look at the situation more positively! Yes, read correctly! In all situations, there is always a chance. Even if the positive may seem so small. Write it down and read it through every day!
Julia is actively involved in many communities for digital work. For example in the context of the “Digital Nomanden Live Meeting in the Osnabrück area”. If you are interested, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you, Julia, for all your hacks!!
4. Further First-hand Tips
We have asked our team and collected some answers – feel free to use these answers to turn your home office into a productive remote working space!
What’s the most important thing for you to be productive at home?
Janet, Project Manager
There are a lot of factors, light, noise but one of the first things I invested in was a proper desk and chair. Working in IT you sit at a computer for extended periods, and you need a correct workspace. This is often a challenge for people at home.
After day 2 of our containment (husband working from home), I had to separate us… it was not working with both of us on conference calls in the same room. I cleared out the second bedroom and I moved my husband’s home office to the bedroom and we are managing to work in harmony in small spaces. I did work at home when my children were small and honestly I had to work after they went to bed at night.
Vyacheslav, Backend Developer
For me, it’s some separate space at home that I can use only (or at least mostly) for work
I agree with Janet. The most important thing for working from home for me – a comfortable workspace without distractions.
Johanna, Communication Manager
“Protect your mornings” or – spend 2-3 hours in 99% focus, no distraction, only do the priority of the day or the hardest thing,
that is most important. 1% is for coffee or a nice stretch
Daniel, Backend Developer
What works for me is to get up early in the morning. 4:30-5:50, this gives me quiet time before everybody in the house is up. I can do most of the work for the day that requires distraction-free time. Then I can have some family time and the meetings are usually in the afternoon. But this highly depends on your timezone. yes, of course, you need to go to bed earlier.
Patrick, Atlassian Consultant
Meditate before starting or even thinking about work.
Natalija, HR Manager
- Make a switch in your brain – there are others that do it successfully, so can you and you just need to learn how
- Have strict schedules (keep you focused) but stay flexible (enables you to shift priorities without freaking out).
- Plan ahead, on Sunday for the week ahead, the night before for the day ahead.
- Use Trello or just your calendar to make a structure around your schedule.
- Have a good mix of work-related and non-work related time slots.
- Keep your schedule in mind, make your brain work around it. Check on yourself a couple of times a day to see if you are on track and if anything needs to be changed
Work from Home: Corona and Social Isolation Challenges
Now, in these days of corona and social isolation, for many people, it’s not just about working from home but also working from home when you have your whole family there, everyone with their own needs.
Family at Home? Try This!
My husband and I both work from home at the moment (it was only me before corona days) and we have only one “workspace” at home. Our 5 yo kids are at home now as well and they are typically in kindergarten so it was a mess in the first days.
We agreed to have shifts so that each of us can fully focus on what is most important at work during the day. Who works on what is most important for work for that day gets the workspace. This way we end the day with the most important/“must have done” work really done. Still fine-tuning but doing way better than in the first days of social isolation.
At the beginning of the day, we sit together and draw a wheel on the board and list all the things each of the 4 of us must/really want to have done during that day so that each of us can say “My day was good” at the end of the day. We scale each thing to make sure we really listed what is important for each of us. Adapting schedules means everyone gets what they need. We make sure it is realistic, of course. This works very well and even got my kids to really take care of tidiness, empty the dishwasher, vacuum clean their room, and other things they typically don’t do.
Raul, UX & UI Designer
If this is your first time working from home you might want to have some “rules”:
- setup a space for your home office(make it your space), avoid placing it in the bedroom or near a couch
- try to stick with the schedule you had at work or create a custom one that fits your needs, and make your family understand that you are “at work” in that time
- you will have video calls, a lot, try to announce your family in advance so you can have a quiet video call without distractions … kids or animals running around or making too much noise…or wife yelling at you to wash the dishes
- don’t forget to take some breaks in between (best put some reminders or else you may forget), do some exercise, stretch, wash the damn dishes
- if you are not used to working from home and having a hard time focusing, to not feel so “alone” try to create a virtual office, call a friend or a colleague…you don’t even have to talk, hearing someone else working, using the keyboard and mouse and from time to time swear can help you feel more at the office.
- Enjoy it and make the best out of it, you might start to like it and we all end up working from home after we get back to normal!
Marianna, Customer Success Manager
to schedule the working time day before & don’t forget to include breaks (important, yes we need one to recover);
camera on in calls, don’t be shy, so I get a feeling I am not alone & smiley, positive energy is the most important thing no matter where you work
Jean Paul, Support Manager
A quiet space and a comfortable chair.
I forgot to mention a reliable internet connection and a backup.
Vuk, Marketing Manager
Separate space that your family treats as an office and does not disturb you while you are working. Requires some training.
Julia, Squad Manager
Following my morning routine (Yoga, meditation, journaling).
It helps me to stay focused and relaxed at the same time.
Daniel, Social Media Communication
Plan your breaks consciously. I do some meditation 5-10 min and/or power nap during the day around noon. This helps me to refresh the mind and body after some hours of focus work. I really appreciate all the comments for my colleagues here. All how you are adapting to these circumstances.
Thorsten, Customer Success Manager
Morning routine and space without distraction from kids and laundry are the most important for me. (Yes, laundry and dishes are able to scream at you when you pass them.) Wake up early and starting the day with no-work topics. Today I started to follow some YouTube training about Tai Chi. Then shower and hearing podcasts/news. Then coffee, still podcasts are some Fantasy stuff. Then some more coffee and starting the work.
Kaizer, Project Manager
Productivity comes with the job that you are going to perform. I do not think every job can be performed at home. The other thing is the working environment and the infrastructure at home. Those things will affect the most