As many of us make the transition to working from home over the next few weeks, we thought we would put together some of our top tips from our team of experienced remote workers.
DP Marketing Communications has been pioneering the virtual business since 2015 and we have learnt some brilliant ways to stay focused when you need to work from home, from focus, organisation and creating a productive workspace.
Get your note pads at the ready and let’s stay connected and safe, supporting businesses from the safety of our homes.
Take breaks, set boundaries
For lots of people new to working from home, there might be a perception that homeworkers spend a lot of time procrastinating. We can tell you that the truth is very opposite to that once you find your flow! The reality of homeworking is there aren’t as many people to speak to as there are in the office You may be surprised how much time you save not being asked “ can I borrow you for a minute?’ We have some furry friends that have to join in coffee breaks, but sometimes it can means that you can get so stuck into working that you have forgotten to stop.
If you are finding that your work-life balance is suffering. Treat your day the same you would at work, clock off at a certain time and walk away. Rest your mind and try not to look at your laptop.
However, if you’re a night owl like our founder Daniella, then your working hours might have to shift to suit your productivity. If you find your best ideas come at 10pm, roll with it.
Use your natural rhythm to your advantage.
Steve, our resident designer is our earliest bird. He finds getting up at the crack of dawn before the family get up is his most productive time to get things done. As he twilights as a DJ, it is a wonder if he sleeps at all. But more importantly, he knows when to clock off. All notifications are turned off and anything that comes in is dealt with during his working hours.
Adam our web developer says: “Try to separate your work station from the rest of the house if you can. I.e. designate a specific room to work, that if possible isn’t the same room where you would usually go to unwind – it can be hard to stop work and switch off if you’re in the same room!” This is really true for your mental health, never work where you sleep!
Don’t beat yourself up but don’t slack either! We can’t all be super productive 12 hours a day, just the hours we set for oursleves, sometimes you need a little break to have a mindless scroll through social media. If that’s what you need do it, but don’t spend the next 30 minutes worrying about the work you could have done in those 10 minutes. That is the real waste of time! If a siesta is needed, go for it and you will be doubly focused for the 2nd half of your day.
Schedule your time and stick to it!
Daniella, the head of DP Marketing Communications is a big fan of the ABC list and encourages all of the account managers to do the same. Now, while it might seem counterproductive to spend time creating a list, we can hands down say, this will make your time more productive and meaningful. Get the highlighters and colourful pens out, these are your weapons you working from home, multitasking ninja.
The simple method of prioritising your workload into categories A, B and C will ensure you are the most productive person on your team by working smarter, not harder. Start every day, a cup of tea or coffee in hand, and set your top priority tasks for the day. Finish it with Gin if you have done really well!
The ABC List
A tasks – These tasks that will have consequences if you don’t finish them. This may be a report that is needed, something you need to finish before the deadline, or maybe making sure you find toilet roll during Coronavirus panic buy season! Only completing A tasks will prevent you from flitting off to do something more ‘fun’ but realistically less important.
B tasks – This is a task you should do, but if you’re not able to, it will have less consequences. The rule is, you should never do a B task while there is a big fat A task glowing on your list.
The final C task is something that is a nice to have. If you don’t get to it then it will have no impact on your workload. This could be some personal training, a virtual coffee meeting with a friend, or a new project that would be a nice to have’ but not essential.
It’s about discipline and focus. Here at DPMC we set our tasks for the day every morning, it’s surprising how much more in control you feel when you have done it. If you know how long it will take, set your hours out during the day, include your lunch breaks and time to perhaps do a few star jumps.
Don’t be a busy fool, make sure you use your ABC lists to focus your time and energy.
Use technology to your advantage
What a world that we live in where we can speak to someone on the other side of the world with the push of a button! Here are some of our favourite platforms to make virtual working a breeze:
Need to run a virtual meeting? Try one of these:
· Google Hangouts
· Slack (great for chats!)
A zoom meeting is great, they are free up to a certain time. If you don’t want to pay for the premium version, just hang up and re-join. Another thing that is amazing with Zoom is you can take control of someone’s screen! Great if someone needs a bit of technical support.
Basecamp – Oh how we love Basecamp! Everything we need is here, it holds all of our to-dos and is the basis of our ABC lists. Chat to people in the campfire, direct message members of the team, assign tasks. It takes the effort out of managing your time. If it isn’t on Basecamp, the chances are you won’t get it done. Combine it with the time management tool: Everhour you can see exactly how much time it takes you on a task.
WhatsApp – simple right? But set up a WhatsApp group for projects. As we’re often on the go and have lightbulb moments at any time of the day the voice note function is our best friend. Making dinner and need to send something important, WhatsApp voice note it. But remember, if it is a to do, then get it on your ABC list and on your project management tool before it falls off the radar.
Dropbox – Forget sending giant attachments on emails. Dropbox is fantastic! Share documents, folders, restore accidentally deleted files, comment and feedback on work. It’s great for team working when you need to share documents. Plus, it can sync with your computer and you can easily save everything there knowing it is automatically available.
For fun – House Party
All work and no play makes for a dull life indeed. Recently, the house party app has been everyone’s answer to a virtual party. If you like a little get together on a Friday evening after work, this app is amazing. Get all your friends and co-workers to join you for some fun quizzes or just a cheeky drink and a catch up.
Finally, we can spend a lot of time focusing on the negatives but take the time to find the positives. Got a Skype call but want to be smart? Wear your PJ bottoms and no one will ever know. We promise it’s fantastic and you’ll never experience freedom like it.
Most importantly, enjoy it and do what works for you. All of our team absolutely love virtual working and we never feel out of touch with anyone. Social distancing, not social isolation!
Need advice on developing your virtual team or working from home?
DP Marketing Communications spent a long time refining the art of remote working and are really pleased in what we have achieved since 2015. If you need any help setting up your company remotely, we would be more than happy to help.