These days, many of us are working from home due to the pandemic. Those of us who, in pre-COVID times, were used to going to the office every day, had to deal with some pretty big changes. At GlobalSprachTeam, we’ve been working remotely since March and have learned a lot in the process. Keep reading to find out what has helped the members of our team the most.
There is general consensus within the team that it is important to have and adhere to some kind of a routine. “I try to stick to my normal working hours as much as possible”, says Project Management Team Leader Kirsty. “That really helps when it comes to keeping my private life and my work life separate”.
“I put my laptop away every day at 5:00 p.m. and don’t look at it until I start work the next day”, agrees project manager Olivia. Sometimes, that can take a little bit of discipline, as it can be quite tempting to “just finish one small thing” – particularly if you can’t go out for the evening.
To frame your working hours, it can be helpful to take a little walk before and afterwards. Kirsty acts like she still has a commute: “I get up as if I had to catch the train”, she says. “Instead, I use the time to go for a walk before I get down to work”.
Ramona, another project management team leader, is a fan of strict scheduling. “I plan when to eat, hang up laundry, and take a break outside. Likewise, I set times for concentrated work – and it’s important to stick to them!”, she explains.
2) Work environment
Aside from a solid routine, the environment in which you work is also important. After all, strict working hours don’t do you any good if the prerequisites for productivity are not present. “An ergonomic workspace with a comfortable chair and a desk lay a good foundation”, advises project manager Neil. If you have the space, it’s best to separate your workspace from you living space or bedroom.
Those who share a remote office should do their best to set up two separate workspaces. If that is not spatially possible, then it’s time to get creative. “My first and most important purchase during the shutdown was a set of comfortable headphones”, says CEO Tatjana Sassenberg.
“I also think that the temperature of the room is really important”, says Olivia. “I get cold easily, but if it’s too warm, I get sleepy. I like to keep it reasonably warm and them wrap myself in a blanket”. Lighting is also a big factor: “A brightly lit room keeps you alert and goes easy on your eyes”.
It’s also a good idea to figure out if “background music is a help or a hindrance”, says Cyrill, head of IT. And when it comes to noise generated by others, communication is vital. “My neighbors like to crank up the bass so high that my desk vibrates”, he adds. A good relationship with your neighbors or roommates lays a solid foundation for mitigating such disturbances, at least during certain hours.
The right outfit is another factor contributing to a productive work environment. Here, though, opinions differ within the team. Some of us, such as project manager Robin, like to dress up in work attire in order to “psychologically transition into work mode”. Others prefer to take advantage of remote working by wearing pajamas, thick socks, and baggy sweaters. “I’ve found that I am relaxed yet motivated when I’m dressed comfily”, admits Olivia.
3) Fresh air and physical activity
The team’s beloved walks outside serve not only to separate work and private life from each other. Additionally, they keep you feeling energetic while aiding circulation. “Your ability to concentrate definitely benefits from 15 minutes outside”, says Neil. “I like to go for a little walk to de-stress or to prevent drowsiness”, agrees Kirsty.
If two people in one household are working from home, breaks can be coordinated, too. “Clear communication about our work breaks helped us to find our rhythm”, says Tatjana Sassenberg about her daily walks with her partner.
During the winter months, it’s also advisable to get outside while it’s still light. “Otherwise you’ll be bummed that you didn’t go out before darkness hits”, says Robin. A little vitamin D and some daylight can work wonders. Some team members are lucky enough to have a four-legged friend. “My dog asks to go out regularly, so I never have to worry about forgetting to take a break”, says Olivia. “Come rain or shine, I always go outside”.
Truthfully, the weather is not always perfect for being outdoors – and without a dog, there is nobody forcing you to leave your apartment. But even if it’s pouring, that’s no reason to neglect active breaks. Regularly getting up from your desk and moving a little bit in your home is great for getting your body back on track. “And don’t forget to stretch”, adds Kirsty. “Stretching regularly feels really good after you’ve been at your desk for a while”.
4) Food and drink
Our team also recommends fueling your body healthily. “Taking enough time for meals energizes you and aids general wellbeing”, says Robin. “You should also keep tabs on how many snacks you have at home and whether or not they’re healthy”, adds Cyrill. Only eating chips and candy will leave you feeling less than stellar. Seasonal fruit and veggies, on the other hand, add some color and boost your immune system.
All that being said, it’s counterproductive to be too hard on yourself. “Particularly in these stressful times, it’s not helpful to additionally stress out over a chocolate bar here or there”, says Olivia.
Kirsty recommends “watching your coffee intake”, as too much coffee can be hard on your system. Instead, focus on drinking enough water. Especially when it’s cold, regularly reminding yourself may be necessary. A hot tea is great for warming up, though – perhaps after a walk.
5) Mental Health
Physical health is important, but mental health is equally crucial. Those who, like us, worked in an office prior to the pandemic, may be coping with loneliness. It is thus all the more important to actively keep in touch with your colleagues. Ramona recommends “using videoconferences for more than just mandatory meetings. Use them for virtual coffee breaks with your coworkers”.
To process the workday, it can be helpful to “write down the things that were good about your day and that you’re proud of”, says Kirsty. That’s great for focusing on the positive and elevating your mood. Right now, the world often seems particularly dark, so illuminating the high points is very important.
Cyrill also knows how important it is “to cultivate gratefulness and positive emotions”. That is a lot easier to do when you have a team that sticks together. He adds: “It really helps to know that I have great colleagues that I can count on”.
How do you stay motivated when working remotely? What do you think of our tips? Let us know on Twitter!