Whether working from home is an old habit or the “new normal” for those adhering to COVID-19 protocols, we want to share Bricksters’ tips and tricks of how they create a productive and engaging work environment at home.
Rebekah Uusitalo, Director, Talent Acquisition Operations and Programs (Toronto, ON)
While many companies are shifting to a work from home scenario for the first time, this has been my daily life for the last 12 years. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that relationships are key, they stop at no border and that communication is essential. It also takes a significant amount of self-awareness, discipline and laser-like focus to do it well.
A few tips that I have learned along the way that have made it a connected, productive and rewarding experience:
Be kind to yourself
Telecommuting is not for everyone. You may feel lonely, isolated, frustrated, missing your colleagues or even bored. You may also feel energized, motivated, more relaxed and more in control of your day (no commute will do that). You may feel all — or a combination of — these feelings every day. Observe how you’re feeling and adjust your approach as needed. Transition takes time.
When blending your home and work life, it’s important to have a space that is dedicated to your work (so your family knows when you’re there, you’re working) and set your hours of work and be disciplined (it’s easy to continue working or jump back online when your laptop is never far away). Establishing boundaries and communicating them upfront to your family, roommates, your manager and your colleagues will make the situation clear from the beginning. Holding yourself accountable will ensure that you remain focused, reach your objectives and remain productive.
Take scheduled breaks
Set some ground rules for how you’ll manage your time and put blocks on your calendar to break up the day. This will avoid getting distracted by mixing work time with other tasks and allow you to stretch, grab a glass of water or something to eat — but try not to loiter in the kitchen (you’ll thank me later!)
While working from home can feel isolating, communication can help you overcome this and help to build and maintain strong relationships. Take the time to understand which tools and methods of communication you and your colleagues prefer (email, phone, Slack, video conferencing, text etc). It’s not a one-size-fits-all and creating the space for different means of communication can also help in changing up your day (a quick phone call or meeting while you take a walk vs sending yet another email may be refreshing for you both to connect on a deeper level).
Chessa Vir, Field Marketing Manager (Portland, ME)
Having worked remote for three years, here are my top pieces of advice for a successful WFH day:
- Kick things off by reviewing your schedule and prioritizing your tasks so you can structure your day.
- Especially during these uncertain times, stay away from watching news throughout the day. Instead, opt for some good tunes or a podcast to keep your focus.
- Make time to step outside; a walk with the dogs, a jog or a simple hop to the mailbox while on the phone with your family will do.
- Have a dedicated organized workspace and make sure you have all the tools needed to be at your most productive. Do you need a monitor? What about a separate keyboard? Whatever it is, it could make a huge difference.
- Don’t be scared about your dogs or kids making a guest appearance. Your co-workers love getting a glimpse into your family life.
Inbar Gam, University Recruiting Program Manager (San Francisco, CA)
Working from home is new for me and it’s definitely taken some time to adjust. When I’m in the office, I move around throughout the day — walking to meetings, grabbing water or a snack, or going on walks with coworkers. The first few days of working from home I noticed I wasn’t moving around enough and by the end of the day it was hard to focus on work. Since then, I’ve been blocking off times throughout the day to get in a quick 10-15 minute workout. Stepping away from work and moving my body allows me to come back more focused and productive.
Maria Pere-Perez, Director, Strategic Technology Partners (Reno, NV)
I’ve been working from home for 12+ years. It starts with great home office mates. For me, they provide a sort of yin-yang balance.
Antonio Gomez, Head of EMEA & APAC Talent Acquisition (London, UK)
Although parts of our team are used to working remotely prior to the current circumstances, it’s been fun to see more of each other on a regular basis via video and to bring some laughter to those meetings as a way to drive team bonding. Most recently, we have introduced a virtual karaoke happy-half-hour at the end of the day on Friday where one of our team members picks a song. We then all sing along karaoke-style — with a drink or two to aid our voices!
Andreana Garcia-Phillips, Field Marketing Manager (San Francisco, CA)
As I’ve recently transitioned into a WFH lifestyle, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way.
- Have a dog? Move the dog bed near you for hourly pets and instant mood improvement.
- Check in with your team members with the webcam on. Start meetings with a song and dance (when appropriate). Bonus points for background jams in between meetings.
- Include workouts, meditation, daily walks with your dog or significant other (I chose dog).
- Stay positive, encourage one another and make the best of the situation. Remind yourself how lucky we are to be able to work from home during this time.
- Crush it.
Vish Gupta, Marketing Operations Manager (San Jose, CA)
As an employee who had previously split time between the office and home, switching to fully remote work has made my routine significantly different. Now, I am much more deliberate about my own daily schedule and have found a few things that I do to help me stay energized.
- Create a similar setup to your work desk. I’ve found a creative way to turn my home set up into a sit-stand option using my Ikea Step Stool.
- Keep the same working hours and start the day as if you’re going to work. Get dressed for work, plan a workout during the morning or after work, eat lunch in the 11am-2pm time frame, and avoid doing housework, like laundry, during the day.
- It’s easy to have too much screen time, so find time to sketch, walk, and take a break from your laptop for at least five minutes, multiple times during the day, to avoid eye strain.
Alexa Friedman, Manager, University Recruiting (San Francisco, CA)
The UR team is having fun hosting virtual intern events like online Pictionary and video lunch & learns. It’s important to have a community of people you can enjoy spending time with, even if it’s not in person.
Sonya Vargas, Director of Analyst Relations (San Diego, CA)
As someone who has been working from home for over 10 years now, there are a few essential tips that have worked for me.
- Wake up at the same time every day. I am a mom of three little girls so that happens by default (most days we are up before we should be).
- Get “camera ready”: As a full-time virtual employee, I turn on my camera for all meetings in order to have face time with my colleagues and partners. It’s one of the main ways to feel connected to your team while not being with them in the office.
- Move: Set some time aside in your day to move and exercise. Whether it’s a quick yoga flow, HIIT workout, or walk/run in the neighborhood.
- Shut down: Aim to shut down your computer at a set time after each work day.