While NMC is used to remote working with about half our staff working outside the office on a typical weekday (except Fridays when we do a company lunch), we're approaching the third week where everyone on the team has been out of the office due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We feel fortunate that our business and industry was already experienced and well structured for this reality, but even with that, we've still been learning a lot about how to best work from home!
For those who newcomers to remote work, we wanted to share tips from things we've learned over the years and new concepts developed in these very unique circumstances. Stay safe, be well, and enjoy these tips from our team to yours:
As a team we’ve used Slack, an instant messaging and collaboration platform, for many years to communicate. Slack is one space where everyone is always present during business hours, no matter where they are physically working. It’s where we solve development issues together, get design feedback, share what we’re listening to, and chat about random topics just as coworkers would in an office setting.
One thing I really like about chatting in Slack is the emoji reactions (similar to “Like”s on Facebook.) The emoji reactions are a great way to participate in conversation even when you may not have time to chat. We’ve even developed some inside joke reactions that bring the team together.
Now more than ever, it’s important to use messaging tools to stay connected with your coworkers.
Aside from Slack, we use Basecamp for all project specific communication. Basecamp is where we sign tasks and keep all project information. If we have a question or point to make that we think coworkers may need to refer back to, it’s best to post it here with all other content related to a project.
Last week, we had an optional lunch video call (where we essentially just talked about how wild this all is while eating our lunches) and this week we have a company-wide virtual Zoom happy hour planned. Seeing each others faces every now and then, as opposed to just a name in an email or chat app, is healthy for the team. NMC has always had company lunches on Fridays, so we’re making sure to keep to that tradition as much as we can by meeting virtually. Currently, we're all experiencing a lot of strange and unfamiliar things, and comfort is found in the familiar -- your co-workers are some of the most constant people in your life, so devoting time to having fun (and getting weird!) with them is one way to bring personal relief and build team morale.
It’s also important to make sure you, as an individual, have what you need to effectively work with your team from home. Working from home can be a tough shift if you’re used to going into an office, co-working space, or even just a coffeeshop everyday. Many NMC team members are used to it at least once a week, so we have a few pointers for how to make working from home successful:
Set Up Your Space
In an office setting, you have a designated spot where the work happens and sitting at your desk puts you in the right mindset to be productive. It's important to try your best to replicate that at home. If you're fortunte, you have a home office, and if you don't have your own room, you can carve out a corner of the living room to fit a desk, or maybe even use the dining room table as your work zone. Whatever works!
Stick to Your Schedule
Did you used to grab a cup of coffee right when you got to the office? Did you always take an afternoon walk after lunch? If so, keep doing those things! Don't only stick to your own schedule, but make sure to keep in line with the schedule of your teams. Be available during normal business hours and things will run smoothly.
Working from home can bring added stress and distractions to your day-to-day life, so it's important to let yourself take breaks. Give yourself a specific time to make a snack, go for a walk, or check the news, and leave work time for work.
The important thing to remember is that there's no single way to work from home that will work for everyone. You'll continually learn more tactics that improve your mood, help you structure your day, boost your productivity, and more. Be open to evolving your mindset as things change and you learn more about what helps you thrive, personally and professionally. And as you learn things, chat with co-workers about what is and isn't working from you. Communication is so key to replace the facetime that has been lost in this setup.