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How to stay productive and sane while WFH (Working from Home)

March 18, 2020
With working from home fast becoming a new reality for many workers and businesses, we’ve compiled a list of our tried and true remote working processes and tools to help you effectively make the transition.

Status meetings to start the week

Our team holds a weekly WIP (work-in-progress) meeting every Monday morning to ensure everyone has a macro view of what’s happening with client projects, as well as micro views on near term deliverables, and their roles within each. This ensures everyone is aligned on priorities and questions can get answered well in advance of them becoming hindrances to the project’s cadence.

Online tools to support workflow

There are hundreds of digital tools to help teams work remotely, some are great, others aren’t. These are the ones that we use while in office as well as when working remotely – and they have become the backbone for us staying on track!

Asana, Harvest, and Slack shown above, are key parts of our WFH routine.

  • AsanaProject, task and team management tool that allows us to stay organized, assign tasks and send documents to each other through specific project channels. $10.99 USD/user/month.
  • Harvest – Intuitive and data driven time tracking software to keep everyone’s hours logged, expenses tracked and budgets on track. $12 USD/user/month
  • Slack – Stay real-time connected! Slack centralizes our team’s communication and brings the team together, wherever we are. Instant messaging with the ability to organize conversations into channels, share documents, send hilarious GIFs, make calls to team members or initiate video chats. Slack Basic: free.
  • Dropbox – Cloud based storage to keep important resources centralized and available to team members through their desktop, $27.50 CAD/month.
  • Zoom meetings – Online video meetings and conference calls. See and hear team members and clients as needed with far better sound quality than a conference call and no long-distance charges. $20CAD/month. Pro zoom meeting tip – Using a portable speaker microphone helps cut back on audio feedback for clear calls. If you don’t have a speaker microphone, mute your microphone during conference calls (unless you're speaking) to minimize the amount of audio feedback.

Dropbox and Zoom, above, help us manage our files and communicate with clients and each other.

Keep your work routine in-tact

Setting schedule that is as close to normal work hours and routines is key for being a successful remote worker. A few ways to organize your days and reframe your approach to working from home:

  • Get showered and dressed: Working in your sweats and not brushing your teeth until noon doesn’t help signal your brain that ‘it’s now time to get to work’.
  • Set clear working hours: Communicate your work hours to your colleagues and family. Working from home shouldn’t mean working more or fewer hours than normal
  • Sign out and turn off notifications: When the day is over turn off notifications for work-related email and instant messaging — especially if you're signed in on your personal devices
  • Designate work zones: Keep your work areas for work, and your living and sleeping areas as separate as possible.
  • Schedule daily breaks: Stretch, have a meal, walk the dog etc. where you take a break from anything work-related. Added bonus is it’s easier to get some daily fresh air and recharge before diving back into work!
  • Make a daily to-do list: Highlighting the top-3 most important items for the day and getting those done first can boost your morale and increase productivity for the rest of the day.
  • Stay focused: If you’re working in a full house, keep your kids busy by planning some self-directed activities each day and set clear work boundaries with partners and roommates. Stay on task where possible and don't do household chores randomly throughout the day as it can derail your work-flow and be harder to get back ‘into the zone’.

Practice self care

Staying healthy and sane while working from home requires discipline, routine and a conscious effort to make it a priority. Below are few ways that our team does this:

  • Listen to Music: to improve productivity and mood, find a playlist that is specifically for working (Spotify has some great options!). Sometimes working from home can be TOO quiet compared to an office, so a bit of background sound can be motivating.
  • Listen to your body: Keep your body moving, get fresh air and take regular walks or do a workout at home. Stay hydrated and eat regular healthy meals.
  • Stay connected: talk on the phone, facetime etc. It’s important to keep connections alive all the time, but especially during times of global uncertainty and when we are in the midst of transitioning to new ways of operating as a workforce.
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