Working from home? How do we work well remotely and keep our sanity?

Mezzanine Working Remotely, Zoom Meeting

Well, it’s been a total of four weeks at home now and we’re still here to bring you this handy blog post. In the hope it may help another business out there, we’re sharing the methods & tools we’re using to help us work well remotely and keep our sanity.

Having to rethink our habits at the moment is the new norm – not only our daily home habits but our working practices too. 

When the status quo is turned upside down, doing things differently to what we’ve been accustomed to for so long is tricky to navigate. In a working environment, we’ve learned pretty quickly that being organised and able to communicate effectively is key, and being agile is now front and centre. 

If your team is also trying to meet the challenges of remote work right nowbelow is a list of ways we are working to steer our way through it that could be helpful.

 

Use the right tools to keep on track

Communication

It’s no surprise that communicating effectively has been number one! We’ve found that providing multiple ways of communicating not only reduces the sense of isolation but helps us work in an agile, collaborative way supporting one another to fulfil our common goals. Most importantly, communicate often throughout the day just like you would in an office.

There is an endless number of tools designed for this, but we are currently using:

  • Zoom or Microsoft Teams for video call meetings and content sharing with our team and clients. These are both quick and easy to set up and helpful in keeping everything in one spot! You can also chat/instant message in Microsoft Teams which is really handy for quick questions.
  • Slack is an instant messaging platform alternative to email. This one is a great tool for more relaxed, instantaneous communication.

The main thing is to enable your team to stay connected with each other, nothing stalls productivity more than poor communication. Also collaborating regularly ‘face-to-face’ using video calls with your clients will help maintain awareness, connection and trust.

Collaboration

Were more likely to fall into silos when we can’t be in the same room. Working together has a range of positives for both people and business and is a real booster of team connection and morale for us. There are plenty of tools out there to facilitate successful collaboration and our team has been primarily relying on: 

  • ClickUp™ has been an incredible tool for us to keep track of projects and tasks between our team, maintaining consistent communication and sharing materials for each job or project in one spot.  
  • Office 365 online apps like Word and Excel can be shared between the team and allow everyone to all work and collaborate on the one document simultaneously. Plus, it’s cloud-based, so it automatically saves changes as you go and if one person’s computer dies, nothing is lost!

 

Implement processes at an individual & team level

Practices for productivity

Maintain typical ‘work habits’ as much as possible, it will help you enter your work-mindset more readily. It’s the same principle as creating a sleep schedule. You are sending your brain unconscious signals that you are in work mode and it should ready itself to perform your typical work functions, habits or processes. Like a typical day at the office, make sure you:

  • Get dressed out of your PJs
  • Don’t work from bed, create a designated work area for yourself (there’s OH&S to consider here too)
  • Eat on a schedule so you don’t snack all day
  • Take breaks and get some fresh air
  • Set boundaries around your hours of work by creating a sign off time and stick to it

We’ve set up an online team calendar that everyone can access and update, so we all know when each of us is online and available to collaborate. Establishing good habits and boundaries enable us to use our time most effectively, productively and positively. It also helps reinforce our values here at Mezz to maintain a healthy work-life balance for all our people.

 

 

Maintaining team unity (and sanity!)

Real connection leads to great work being done – and working remotely doesn’t have to equate to a loss of social connection with your team-mates. We’ve discovered a variety of ways to keep in touch, operate productively together and keep our human-ness and wellbeing at the centre:

  • Start morning meetings with personal updates – how is everyone coping? How was your weekend? Vent any frustrations and have a laugh together.
  • Begin work-related discussion through ‘stand-ups’ – everyone on the team gives a brief update of what they’re working on and where they are up to on projects. A simple format for this could be what you did yesterday, what will you do today, what you might need assistance with or anything you’re waiting on to complete your tasks.
  • Check in again later in the day to see how everyone’s travelling – keep this regular and predictable – being trapped inside can often diminish our sense of time, so having a regular check-in towards the end of the day (or one in the middle as well) can help with daily progress and keep your team on track.
  • Be human together – there is more to life than work and that is true even at the office, so find ways for your team to interact more socially in a way that is not related to work life. Our Studio Manager, Liz, put together some great ways to help us lighten up the mood through the week and connect with each other:
    • Mindful Monday – Kick off the day with mindfulness or a simple exercise such as “The three things I’m grateful for today are…” or morning stretches together.
    • Whacky Wednesday – Get over the weekday hump with humour and team challenges to keep our minds sharp and creative juices flowing such as team trivia, show-off-your-pet day, crazy hair day or pj day.
    • Fun Day Friday – Celebrate the week that was with team drinks and a video chat (BYO of course)
  • Keep a Facebook Messenger chat or other chat apps active where you can all talk together about life or interesting things or send each other funny memes. Video and chat tools, like Messenger, are used personally by most of us every day, so it feels normal to socialise and chat this way. This is how we stay in touch with team members like Michelle who is on maternity leave.
  • Don’t be afraid to video call each other outside scheduled check-ins. If you’re having trouble with a task, need to ask a complex question or need to have a quick discussion about a project – ask whoever you need to speak to if they have 5 mins to jump on a video call with you. Using text or email to communicate means a lot can get lost in translation – save yourself and fellow team members time and video chat the problem out.

 

Mezzanine Working Remotely, Desk Exercises for Mindful Monday

 

Keep a long-term mindset, be decisive & reassess along the way

It’s hard to keep your eyes on the horizon when there’s so much uncertainty and change happening daily, if not hourly! But we’ve found the more we can focus on the bigger picture, the clearer it is which shifts and initiatives will support our business through the crisis now, and also give us an edge towards our vision once things settle down. In order to manage the evolving nature of the situation, we’re trying to:

  • Stay abreast of relevant information and maintain a full perspective of our options and possibilities. This is enabling us to be agile and respond with our current and future needs in mind.
  • Create a sustainable plan, one we’re able to function within effectively for potentially the next 6 or more months.
  • Ensure we have clear direction and expectation of projects and commitment levels so all team members can contribute to the collective mission at hand.
  • Check-in with each other regularly and be responsive in updating the plan as things change. The wellbeing of our people is number one, and what everyone needs right now is flexibility and understanding. Our situations are all different, and this ensures our individual wellbeing is maintained, physically, emotionally and financially.
  • Be transparent and honest with each other about what is happening and what it means for each other and the business.
  • Reflect and redirect your expertise. Seize this moment to innovate and optimise your services and practices in alignment with your brand purpose and values – you’ll come out the other side with strong foundations for growth (and maybe changed for the better!).

 

We’d love to hear the ways your business is adapting to the change. Together we can all help each other to stay focused on the opportunities within the chaos – let’s progress through this challenge, not just endure it.

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