Sam Button, Head of Growth, Roar Media
Roar Media’s Sam Button explores the challenges and lessons learned from his own experiences of remote work and working from home and successes from his days as a ‘digital nomad’.
Whilst working from home full time is new to the vast amount of people, there are a few of us who are very used to working from home. I thought it would be good to open a conversation and provide a few tips I use to stay motivated and see if any readers also had suggestions or techniques?
I have been working remotely for close to two years’, one thing I am sure of is that the response I get from telling people that I work from home, will be completely different after the effects COVID-19 has had on our working lives. Before, the standard response I received was ‘You are so lucky, that is the dream job’. Whilst I do count myself lucky, I love my job and there are many positives to not working in an office (I spent a good portion of 2019 as a Digital Nomad), it is not all sunshine and roses. I think now people have been working from home for a couple of weeks, there is a chance this may now resonate.
As a disclaimer, I am not claiming to be an expert in working from home and the motivation required. I just wanted to share my own experiences as I feel they may be common issues.
Whilst some people are lucky enough to look forward to the office on a Monday morning, I know this is not always the case. However, there are many aspects of office life which I am sure you are starting to miss.
One of the realisations I had early on was that I became very conscious of when I was not working, which lead to a good portion of guilt. It took me a while to understand that my working pattern was not dissimilar to being in an office, I just did not realise the mini work breaks I was taking from work in an office.
A classic example of this is the internet, however you utilise the internet throughout the day, whether it is sports articles, showbiz or social media. It is something that always sneaks in as a temptation (usually lead by conversations with colleagues). In an office, you may do this socially and have a discussion with your pod, at home it is common to read and then have to snap out of it and force yourself back to something more productive.
The moral of this, is that we take breaks at work all the time without realising we are doing so. In an office it is very rare to make tea or coffee without getting into at least one conversation in the kitchen. Psychologically these breaks are very useful for concentration when you are working, so be sure to embrace this whilst working from home.
If you are fortunate enough to live in a household with other people, try to align these breaks. It has been scientifically proven that taking a 15 minute break with another person increases performance and decreases stress.
I would like to think everyone has at least one colleague who they would consider a friend and speak with about life outside of work. It is vitally important to keep this up whilst working from home. Remember that everyone is in the same boat, whilst it is becoming slightly difficult to discuss the enthralling activities we got up to at the weekend, even simple musings of daily life are important to share.
Make sure you are not just discussing work with your colleagues and make time to talk about general life. You never know, Susan from accounts might have some very enjoyable musings about how she is dealing with the frustrations of being at home.
Unsurprisingly, Zoom has had it’s highest ever increase in users and shot to the top of the charts for app downloads. Video calling is a great way to ensure attention through solo and conference calls. However, productivity can tail off throughout these calls (much the same with meetings). I think it is important to have a planned agenda of things to discuss and to go through these one by one, keep the calls short and meaningful but also be sure to make time at the start of the call for a non-work focussed catch up.
Instant messaging services are also great for quick answers and general catch ups. Sending GIFs is always a good way to lighten the mood as sentiment can be missed when we are not talking face to face.
This section is more for managers, remember you have an experienced team of individuals you have hired. Just because they are working remotely, there is no need to micro-manage. The worst message to receive is a ‘Hello? Are you there…’ after not replying to a message for 2 minutes. You have to trust your team and the way they work, everyone is different and people know when they are most productive, so believe in their ability and understand that this is a difficult time for everyone.
Most companies have a dedicated or self-elected team to organise social events for company bonding. The creativity of this team is needed now more than ever, it is a great idea to keep up traditions be they monthly, quarterly or even weekly. The obvious social would be something like a quiz about the company and people in the office but let’s face it, this is a brave new world. I don’t think we are too far away from fancy dress Fridays, workplace show and tell, bring a friend to work-day or Heather from marketing teaching the weekly Wednesday Zumba class. Embracing the new norm and having fun with it, is a necessity.
Please feel free to comment any ideas you think might help people; we are all in this together!