If you’ve been reading our updates you’ll know we packed up our workstations, saluted one another from a safe distance and officially went remote on 16/03. And we really haven’t missed a beat with our clients.
But going from a highly-interactive, collaborative creative studio environment to suddenly hanging at home in front of screens hasn’t been all smiles. Sure – the fridge is closer (blessing and curse), we can personally guard our own caches of toilet paper and pants are optional. But when you’re accustomed to churning out your best work in a certain environment, a big shift is not always easy. And we’re not alone. The exodus from the office has begun with even big-four consulting firm EY requiring from all staff work from home. As of this writing, the Australian government has yet to ban office workers from coming in and many organisations are hanging on to their office staff whether for lack of infrastructure or lack of trust.
No matter where your own company stands on office work for the moment, the most likely scenario is that we’re all going to have to make the transition soon. And that means being ready to effectively communicate, manage your staff and continue to produce remotely; all whilst keeping madness at bay and remembering to change your tee shirt.
Hack Your Way to a Useful Home Office
We do things a bit differently when we’re at the office. We get dressed in our better clothes. We shower. We comb our hair. We come in, sit at our desks and devote our time to our tasks. And then we leave for home with our desks in a (mostly) neat and presentable manner. True for most of us, yes?
Now, here we are, in the wild frontier of the home office. If you’re like me and most of my colleagues you’ve dragged home your monitors and desktop PC, your office chair, necessary knick-knacks and thrust this all into some mostly lonely corner of your home. If you’ve got kids, more than likely you’re holed up in your own bedroom (as they’ve conquered the rest of the house) waiting to be interrupted at any moment. Take a moment and drink in your surroundings. Now go ahead and search #homeofficeinspo now and see how badly you’re failing at this WFH thing.
I’m joking, of course. There’s no real benefit in obsessively crafting a perfect home office space unless you’re really into that sort of thing. Likely this state of being will be short-term. I’m not into perfection but what I am into is survivalism. And there’s some real boundaries that need to be enforced in your remote station:
1. Get dressed. At least your upper half.
I’m not going to enforce pants for you on this mission but I do think you’ll benefit from a clean top, washed hair and some moisturiser. Most of us will need to video conference at some point during the day. If you don’t, this will still help. There’s nothing like fresh clothes and looking ready for the day ahead to switch you from ‘bed mode’ to ‘work mode’.
2. Get the music situation sorted
After I got over the thrill of blasting metal in my bedroom-office for a couple days, it occurred to me that I don’t actually work best with it on. And listening to my usual office playlist made me feel a bit weird without my co-workers around. So, via my current obsession of bio-hacking, I encountered a cool brain-wave regulating, focus-inducing radio streaming service brain.fm. You pick your genre and what mood you’d like to induce and, voila, it pumps out synthesised brain-focusing jams to keep you on track.
3. Be clear with your hours
Before I came to Kick, I worked from home for years and the lines between work time and home time get very blurred. I was determined not to let that happen when we went remote but, nevertheless, I find myself logging in early and knocking off later. What’s going on? One possibility is guilt, meaning you feel you’ve done ‘non-work’ for a time during the day and you have some compulsion to make up for it. I think it’s a bit less emotional than that. I think once we’re committed to our tasks, sitting in our desk chair with the brain jams on, it’s just really hard to switch gears. There’s no drive home to help, either.
My suggestion is a ritual. Have a quick something you do before you start work and another for before you end work. Whether that’s a meditation, a coffee, a cocktail – totally up to you. You’ll train your brain to recognise there’s a boundary line that gets crossed when you step from one activity to another.