The Pilot Fish Media team are no newbies to the working from home rodeo brought upon us all by Covid-19. People all over the world are having to rethink their routines, boost their productivity with a never-ending supply of Netflix (and snacks) at home, and work around bad makeshift desks and loud family members. So, we thought we’d rally our crew to give their best tips for making working from home work for you – even if you’ve never done it before.
Freya (Creative Content Writer)
Working in the space of the same 4 walls can get boring fast. For me, working from home should include a few home comforts to make your daily routine less monotonous and keep energy and motivation high. One key perk of working from home is complete control over your office playlist – whether your taste is drum and bass, classical concertos or easy-listening funk, switching up your playlist throughout the day keeps things interesting and breaks up those hours in front of your laptop. Just make sure to turn off the tunes when you’re taking calls and choose music that keeps you feeling energetic. Having something to look forward to in your daily routine is also a nice touch to break up the day. While you might not have anyone to enjoy your coffee break with, keep the coffee. An afternoon drink (and possibly a biscuit, brownie, or whatever else is left in your lockdown cupboard) will pick you up when you’re flagging, as will keeping windows open for a bit of fresh air. Keeping your workspace as pleasant as possible, with small daily routines to structure your day, is the best way to enjoy your new office – and maybe discover a new favourite album.
Daniella (Campaign Director)
Working from home, especially during these stressful times, can cause a clutter in your mind like no other – you gotta organise like your job depends on it (cause, well, it literally does). Organise your mornings: do some stretches (a healthy body will increase your focus and productivity) and make sure to get dressed. Power dressing is a real thing, and trust me, staying all day in your PJs won’t make you feel like the remote boss you need to be! Organise your space and day – scheduling does the trick for me when working from home. Schedule time in for your emails, projects and meals to provide some much-needed structure to your day, and organise your space so it calms your mind and facilitates productivity. (For me, the key is plants. Lots of plants). Finally, communication is key. Your own and your entire team’s success depends on organising straightforward communication techniques. At home, you can’t just chat to someone about an issue across the desk! At Pilot Fish, we set up weekly team-wide calls and make sure to check up on each other daily. There’s nothing better than the occasional “how’re you getting on?” Slack message when you least expect it. Also, a pro-tip: cc everyone in your main management team in all emails, including meeting notes, so people can keep up to date from the comfort of their own home – facilitate the communication line wherever you can!
Liam (Key Accounts Director)
Working from home means just that: working. In my experience, you have to set yourself a routine, just like you would on a normal working day. Set your alarm the night before, get ready and do everything you would usually do before you would leave the house for the office. Get out of your dressing gown and wear something like you usually would to go out of the house. It doesn’t have to be as extreme as a shirt and tie, but I put on what I would normally wear to work (jeans and a top). I know some people can sit in their PJs and dressing gown and work, but it’s not for me. I associate them with relaxing and I feel you have to trick your mind into thinking that this is a normal working day. Be logged on at your usual working time and have no distractions. Ignore that WhatsApp group with all your friends in it at least until lunch (there’s never normally something of value in reading them anyway!). Create a list of what you need to do or set alarms throughout the day to set yourself some goals, but sticking to your usual routine is always is my experience the most efficient way of working from home – and it looks like this will be the usual for some time.
Ansi (Senior Designer)
Get up, take a shower. This is my #1 ‘working from home rule’. It’s really tempting to ‘just quickly check your mail’ or reply to something first thing in the morning, but before you know it, it’s the end of the workday and you were never quite ready for it to start. Make sure to get ready for work as if you were going to the office. More importantly, give yourself a break. Take time away from your desk to have lunch or go for a walk (if you are allowed to). When your office is in your home, work and home life slowly merge into one activity – it’s imperative to actively focus to keep a balance. If you can work in a separate room with a door, even better. At the end of the day, switch off your computer, close the door and ‘go home’.
Angus (Community Manager)
Location, location, location. WFH, for me, is all about working in the best space possible. You may have left your cold, dimly lit office to work at home or you may have moved out of a pleasant space with lots of natural light, but either way, making the best out of my home office space is something I find important. In most cases, people won’t have a choice about where they can work in their own home, but, whatever room you end up in, you can make the most of it. Opening the window and curtains to let fresh air and light in, leaving the door open or closed depending on how much you enjoy company (I would have a lock on mine if possible), using lamps to give the room a warm light on dull days and maybe a stash of biscuits in the top drawer of your desk. Simple things that can make a big difference. What’s most important is that are you are in an environment you feel comfortable to work in, but that is also separate from the rest of your home so you can feel like you’ve finished at the end of the day.
Matthew (Paid Ads Director)
For most people, going to work means a daily commute and change of surroundings to the office, creating a degree of separation between work and personal life. When working from home, this separation all but disappears. That’s why it’s incredibly important to try and separate the areas that you sleep, work and play. An obvious solution is to use different rooms for this, but not everyone has this luxury. Even if you live in a studio apartment, try to create ‘stations’ for each activity – for example, the sofa for watching TV, an armchair for reading, a table for socialising (video calls) and a workspace to enter during office hours.
Joe (Senior Creative)
As someone who frequently works remotely anyway, I’d hope I have my working from home situation down. Structure is very important, but my focus is on adjusting to new factors. Like work, you have too much to do. Unlike work you may have a partner, kids or pets – these can make things harder. If your partner coming in for a chit chat every 10 minutes is distracting, then (very) politely request they don’t – your relationship needs to survive the pandemic too! Take your breaks together and enjoy getting the opportunity for more quality time together than you’d normally have. Celebrate your mutual disgust at people who put the milk in first when making tea (monsters!). I’m well versed in the pet situation (can’t help with kids!) and as hard as it is, you have to ignore them a lot. Believe me, at the beginning you’ll love Fido slobbering all over you, but when you’re having an important conference call, you’ll be less enthusiastic. It was hard to leave my wee dug alone, but now he’ll happily see to himself until it’s his time – which he then gets extremely excited about (as do I). You’ll be surprisingly more productive, you get more autonomy and can sleep more. You may miss the social aspect but be aware that if you can work fruitfully from home, your employer may consider letting you work from home in the future. Which is amazing if you have a day with the kids or want an extra hour kip because you’re out the night before. Let’s use this time for positive social change – with employers trusting their employees and being more flexible about a healthy work-life balance!
My advice would be to set up a “dedicated” workspace. It’s easy to find yourself working from the kitchen table one hour and at the next find yourself standing in your kitchen making a call. From a continuity point of view, this is not ideal. If you’re able to set up a space within your home which is your “professional” area, then you’ll be able to separate your work life form your social and personal life. Oh, and buy a set of headphones! As much as your family are interested in your work, they don’t want to be part of every conference call you’re on! On a final note – we know it’s hard. Even the most experienced work-from-home veterans in our team like to go into the office once in a while or get together for a post-work team pint on Fridays. However, absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that jazz. Start planning that work family reunion now (even if it doesn’t have a set date), cause we all know it’s gonna be a great one – the Pilot Fish team definitely can’t wait for ours!
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