Cover image credit to quotecatalog.com
The 23rd of March 2020 is a date everyone up and down the UK will remember. As we sat down to eat our dinner, Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke the words that have since been repeated countless times through many media publications, "You MUST stay at home!". We all closed our doors to an invisible threat that we knew very little about. Our lives became the four walls of our homes. Socialising through FaceTime with friends and family, having weekend drinks or date nights through Zoom, joining exercise classes online, everything became very different.Our jobs changed. Working from home was no longer a privilege, it was a must.
According to the ONS, in April 2020, nearly half (46.6%) of people employed were doing some work from home and 86% of this was the result of Covid-19 (ONS, 2020). The way people have always worked, interacted with colleagues and taken on new opportunities was changing massively, especially our relationship with our personal vs. professional lives. I would imagine, if you've already made connections with your employers and colleagues, the shift to working from home might be a little bit easier, but what if it's a new job you're heading into?
I personally have first-hand experience of this. I previously wrote a blog post for Moonstory about completing my internship and I was very grateful to be offered a job at the end of this. Sei and I have a close working relationship and are in constant dialogue with each other throughout the working week to ensure we are hitting targets, everything is on track and going smoothly. However, Sei and I have never met in person. Thinking back a year ago, this may have seemed strange.
The thought of starting a new job in a remote environment may be daunting, but I don't think it should be viewed as a negative or a reason to not go for it. We should be grabbing these opportunities with both hands because this is one of the beauties of technology. We can try new roles that we may have had to relocate miles for previously. I'm currently in Cardiff and Sei is in London, but we work together daily to achieve goals through constant communication and programs that we use collaboratively.
Four collaboration tools we like to use
We use Slack a lot. It is our primary way of communicating. One of the reasons I like Slack is, it is work and nothing else. It separates work from personal messaging platforms and helps drive that clear line between work and personal life. You could also choose to only have it on your laptop and not on your personal phone.
Notion is a great tool, and it's my personal favourite. It allows you to store joint and personal documents that can be shared quickly and easily. You can organise your to-do lists, create Kanban boards, calendars and reminders, along with many other features. We use Notion to document our ideas, findings, and meeting notes. Everything is stored neatly in one area and everything can be found quickly.
This is a great project management tool. We have introduced our client team to Asana and its become a powerful tool for us to communicate with them. Asana allows us and our client team to share ideas, collaborate, set deadlines and manage different projects.
Whimsical a flowchart tool that we use in various ways, from mapping out a new website's wireframe, the flow of the customers' journey, or putting content into key pillars. It's a very diverse and flexible tool, with the ability to share boards and work together as a team. For example, I recently used Whimsical to help go through over 2,000 different content types on a client's site, grouping them into three content pillars. Whimsical made a potentially confusing, time-consuming task a lot easier.
Working remotely from home is all I've ever known. After graduating from University, I stepped out into a working world that had been ransacked by Covid-19.
Starting your first 'proper job' after finishing uni can be very difficult. It is made even more challenging when everything is done remotely. As well as learning to use the collaborative tools listed above, I adopted some coping and management techniques to help me work from home effectively.
My top five tips for working from home
Get yourself a good old fashioned To-do list
At Moonstory, we have a Monday Morning Meeting every week to set out the key goals to achieve by Friday. These goals are put into a Kanban board. When we start working on a goal, it makes its way along the Kanban board until complete. This is a great way to work as it lets the other team members know who is doing what and where they are in the process.
But even with this, I still set myself a personal To-do list that I write down and cross off. Having a workplace goal list is great, but I find that having my own personal goals each day gives me a greater sense of achievement day-to-day.
You may or may not have noticed I didn't use the word 'task' but instead 'goals.' Changing the word 'tasks' to 'goals' has helped me keep a positive mindset. When I think of a 'task,' it's taxing, it's long, not enjoyable and when it's crossed off, you simply move on to the next task. On the other hand, goals are optimistic and positive. They are a reason for celebration in sport, it feels good when you hit your goals. Changing small wording in day-to-day life can really help maintain a healthy mindset.
In an office space environment, there are always people around to talk to and the background noise of talking, laughing, (maybe crying depending where you work!) is constant. This can be a stark contrast to working from home in your bedroom/office. Spotify or any music streaming platform is great for that bit of background noise that's not the TV.
Some of my personal favourite playlists are: Duvet day, The most beautiful songs in the world, Lost in the woods, and Easy. They are all very chilled and perfect for having low in the background to drown out the traffic noise.
The danger of staying in your pyjamas
I recently read 'Clothes...and other things that matter' by Alexandra Shulman, the former Editor and Chief of British Vogue. She talks about her transition from working for Vogue to working freelance at home. She mentions a piece of advice her friend gave, "the danger of freelance life (or in this case working from home) is you may never get out of your pyjamas."
The shift of working from home, with the extra time in the morning where you don't have to put uncomfortable trousers or restrictive suit jackets on, seems so bliss. But when thinking about your pyjamas or dressing gowns, they're the in between stage of the day, the transition of bedtime to daytime. Pyjamas aren't motivating and they're not designed to be. They're meant to keep you cosy, get you ready for bed, not to seize the day.
I'm a big lover of yoga legging, maybe a bit too much. I once said, "I'd love a job where I could wear my yoga leggings all day." However, my yoga leggings' novelty wore off. They were an extension of my pyjamas, going from one stretchy waistband to another.
I found putting clothes on that weren't my pyjamas, or yoga leggings did make me more productive and positive towards the day. So if you're a pyjamas, yoga legging, joggers lover, maybe try once a week stepping away and see if you notice a difference. I did.
Recommended 10,000 steps a day...😳
A few days ago, I put a kettle in my room. This was possibly the best but worst decision I've made. My hourly walk to the kitchen to get a coffee is no more.
I'm a very energetic person naturally / could be because of the amount of coffee I drink... But when I started working from home, I discovered I had all this pent up energy I didn't really know what to do with. Going for a morning run helps me clear my head, use some of that extra energy and sets me up for the day.
If running isn't your thing, try going for a morning or evening walk. It will get in some steps but not all of the recommended 10,000 steps a day. I've currently done 61 steps today and burnt a whole 2 calories, so the kettle in my room was definitely not a good idea.
Be kind to yourself, how are you?
This is a hard time and not everyone will have 100% perfect weeks. Things will go wrong. Your kids may run in on an important video call with paint all over their hands, your sibling might think because you're sat on your laptop in your room you're not really working and come in to annoy you (this my brother), your internet will probably go down once, twice, or many more times, maybe your dog keeps barking through the whole meeting, but this is okay so don't be hard on yourself.
Make sure you take YOU time. We all need it more than ever and whatever 'you time' is, enjoy every moment.