At KWT Global, we believe that we do our best work when we’re together, collaborating in real-time, face-to-face — whether in a scheduled brainstorm or quick catch-up by the Nespresso machine. While we have a flexible, remote working policy under normal circumstances, the COVID-19 pandemic has (like many of you) forced us all to work from home for an undetermined period of time. Previously scheduled in-person catch-ups and coffee meetings are now Zoom calls and Slack Happy Hours, often with surprise guest stars (usually furry friends like my pup Phoebe). Just like you and your teams, we’re also adjusting to a “new normal.”
As we all navigate this unprecedented situation, with all of its anxieties and quirks (don’t think I didn’t peep those printed pajama pants on Zoom), we’ve been researching how we can continue to foster a collaborative, team-oriented spirit when we can’t physically be together.
- Establish a routine. To maintain sanity, keep setting your alarm for your normal wake-up time, schedule meal times, set up time to catch-up with family and friends, and find at-home workouts that you actually like. As tempting as all-day pajamas and hourly snacktime sounded, by day four, I found myself craving a sense of normalcy. While I may not be able to pack my bag and head out of the office for an evening workout class as normal, finding a routine can help ease anxiety in the midst of uncertainty. My calendar now not only includes work-related calls and meetings, but reminders of lunchtime, my dog’s walk schedule, Zoom workouts with my favorite trainers, calls to my grandparents and FaceTime catch-ups with my closest friends.
- Create work/life separation. While for many of us, our “home office” is also our bedroom, living room or kitchen (my husband and I have set up a coworking space of sorts in our one-bedroom apartment), finding physical or psychological distance between work and personal life is crucial. Taking a quick walk or doing a brief meditation after you’ve wrapped for the day can help reset your mind and let you settle into a relaxing evening. I’ve found that signing off Slack when my work is finished and starting to make dinner or playing with my dog helps me create clear boundaries between when work ends and my home life begins (even if it’s all within the same 600 square feet).
- Check in often with your teams. During these unusual times, it’s more important than ever to ensure your teams feel supported and set up for success. Find time for one-on-one weekly Zoom calls and informal Slack check-ins, and you’ll continue to foster strong bonds with your team. I’ve really enjoyed the informal chats with my teams, not only to get a better understanding of what they’re working on day-to-day, but also to catch up on their personal lives and those little tidbits we miss when we aren’t physically together all day. Those five or 10-minute outings to grab lunch/coffee/Trader Joe’s snacks add up. Without them, we have to be far more proactive to stay in touch with one another.
As we navigate our own trial and error with remote working, we’ve found the following resources to be helpful in navigating a remote workforce — and hope you find them useful, too:
- Quartz at Work (from Home) Free Webinars
- Harvard Business Review: 15 Questions About Remote Work, Answered
- Harvard Business Review: A Guide to Managing Your (Newly) Remote Workers
- Inc: 7 Tips for Successfully Managing Remote Teams
- Forbes: Maintaining Employee Morale in a Remote Work Environment
- Fast Company: As people start working remotely, hackers are trying to exploit our anxieties
- Business Insider: If you’re working from home, here’s exactly how to collaborate across teams and improve your remote meetings
- LinkedIn: New to Working Remotely? These Resources Can Help
Caty Bennett Gray is a Senior Account Director at KWT Global. Connect with her on LinkedIn.