How we aim to feel better whilst working from home on lockdown

Just like many other digital businesses, we’ve been getting through this unusual time of remote working by trial and error.

We’re starting to learn which tools we love (Microsoft Teams, Whereby, Miro and Figma) and which we probably won’t use again. We’re adopting new team ceremonies, whilst figuring out what we don’t need to do as often.

But most importantly, we’re thinking about how to make ourselves (and others at work) feel a little bit better each day. This isn’t the regular ‘working from home’ that we all know and appreciate — this is ‘working from home’ with a side of anxiety, uncertainty and distraction.

The following suggestions might not work for everyone, but they’ve helped make our days a little easier, brighter and less predictable. We hope they make your days brighter too.

Turn off your notifications

Slack isn’t just Slack for the foreseeable future. It’s also functioning as the kitchen, the event space and the corridor towards the reception area. It’s most rooms, with lots of noise, all crammed into one space. Yikes.

For our wellbeing and productivity, many of us have turned off our notifications for Slack and emails. As long as you’re checking in every so often and know what’s in your calendar, then none of us should be feeling guilty.

Grab a cup of tea with your colleagues

Now that we’re all working from home, we’ve noticed that it’s easier to forget to take breaks. By setting up Whereby rooms, we can now hop into a virtual space whenever we want and ‘grab a drink’ with whoever is there. The unpredictability is nice and familiar — just like stepping into the office kitchen when you don’t know who will be there.

Allow yourself to feel rubbish or unproductive

Things are weird right now. We’re allowed to feel a bit shaky, a bit grumpy or a bit spaced out at times.

‘Working from home’ doesn’t mean that we need to prove ourselves more than ever. We just need to do our best to keep things running smoothly, whilst looking after our mental health.

Meetings will be trickier, but do them regardless

This applies to retros, stand ups, Friday afternoon drinks and pretty much anything that usually pops up in your calendar. It might seem easier to get rid of certain meetings or traditions for now, but keeping a sense of normality during these uncertain times is so important.

We’ll still be doing our company meetings in Microsoft Teams, ‘Gin Fridays’ in Whereby and design reviews in Miro, even if they end up being chaotic at times.

whereby-meeting

Create online birthday boards for your colleagues

Let’s face it — this isn’t the best time to be having a birthday. Silly GIFs and messages will be more appreciated than ever.

We’ve been using Kudoboard to create online birthday boards to send to our colleagues. It feels just as nice as giving a physical card — and you don’t have to worry about squeezing your message next to someone else’s.

Communicate better, not more

All of us have felt it to some degree — that tendency to need to ‘prove yourself’ whilst working from home. It results in things like messaging everyone every time you make a cup of tea or organising too many catch up calls in one day.

It’s natural, but it can be wasted energy. We’re all aiming to communicate better, not more.

Share your mood

Feeling crap? Now’s the time to put ‘💬 Could do with a chat’ as your Slack status and not feel strange about it.

Switch up your workspace throughout the day

We’re totally on board with the idea of setting up a designated workspace at home, but that doesn’t mean that we want to sit there all day. Brainstorming with Post-it notes in a different room or taking a call outside in the garden is much more representative of how we all move about in the office.

Cover your camera when not in use

At best, it’ll help you avoid an impromptu shot of you scratching your nose.

Reach out to someone you wouldn’t usually chat to

Working life feels a lot more predictable when you’re working from home. Bumping into the new person in the kitchen is no longer a thing and there’s less opportunity for random interactions.

Send a message to the new person on Slack. Arrange a call with someone you wouldn’t usually speak to unless you bumped into them in the corridor. It might feel weird, but weird is good.

Work in your joggers at least once

Let’s eradicate the idea that we need to be suited and booted just to sit in the lounge. It’s good to make an effort and get ready for the day, but sitting in your joggers every Friday feels so good.

Create a collaborative playlist on Spotify

Even if you can’t be together in the same room, there’s something about knowing that you’re listening to the same playlist as your teammates that can make you feel less alone.

Run competitions to keep up team morale

Some of us have been doing daily ‘Rate My Plate’ competitions, whilst others have been arranging online pub quizzes. It’s a fun way to break up each day and still create a sense of company culture.

. . .

Although it’s been strange adjusting to the whole office working from home, it’s certainly proven that it’s possible to do almost everything online as a digital product studio.

For now, we’ll keep testing, trialing, checking in with each other and learning from our experiences.

How have you been adjusting to working from home as a digital business? Let us know on Twitter.


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