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Mar 19, 2020

Work from Home Tips During COVID-19

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As the COVID-19 situation continues across the world, safety is our primary concern for customers, suppliers, and staff. Since mid-March, our team has been working from home (WFH) to do our part to #StayAtHome and protect the community at large. With a global organization, fortunately, our team has become experts at staying connected and productive remotely.

This crisis, of course, is no regular remote work occurrence. To truly flatten the curve, Kathrin Hartrampf, one of our German language specialists, has curated advice for work from home situations where public activity is limited or not accessible.

Through the early days of the crisis, we’ve so far been able to maintain a level of normal office life by not deviating from what we would do every day, such as holding standups through video calls, having weekly meetings, sharing learnings, and much more.

We’d also like to share the full official internal WFH office playbook that our team has written for this particular situation. Learning and clarity are one of our core company values. We want to extend these values to the community and other businesses working from home during the COVID-19 crisis. By sharing our practical internal remote work guidelines, we hope our peers in the industry can also continue to improve their productivity and the happiness of their team.

Here are some top tips from Kathrin:

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Make your bed or couch a no-work zone

Create a dedicated workspace that keeps you focused. If possible, order ergonomic furniture or at least a seat cushion to avoid back pain and other injuries, the ultimate distractor. Desk equipment such as a screen, mouse, or arm cushion can make all the difference. Typing emails in bed sounds like a good idea, but eventually you’ll hurt your neck.

Set rules and office times for the other people in your house

If possible, find a room where nobody talks to you unexpectedly. If you get interrupted again and again, you will quickly lose motivation and focus, which creates unnecessary stress. In case you can't escape people who distract you, use noise-canceling headphones. Also, communicate with the people around you that you are in work mode, but also tell them a time, e.g. a specific time once every hour, when they can talk to you. Be reachable, just not around the clock.

Make a schedule, and make it public

Before you start working, structure your day in several blocks, including breaks. It makes planning tasks easier and shows other people when there is time for private matters. Mark it in your public office calendar, e.g. 14:00-16:00 no meetings, focus on X project or simply set all your events as Busy if you would like more privacy.

Set priorities with an Eisenhower Box

There is a difference between important and urgent. Since I discovered the so-called Eisenhower Box, my life got easier! The practice helps you divide tasks into what you do, delegate, decide, and delete. Here is an article by James Clear explaining this productivity method. It's quite simple, I promise.

Focus on one thing at a time

We’re talking to you, the one with a hundred tabs open. Studies show that multitasking damages our brains and destroys productivity. To curb the need to do everything at once, have a three tab rule on your windows, turn off mobile push notifications, or set your phone to quiet mode to avoid distractions.

To resist the temptation of looking at Instagram for a little mental break, place your phone slightly out of reach from your desk. When you need a little pause, look out the window.

Use your break to its full potential

Many people think skipping breaks helps them get more things done, but sooner or later, they lose energy, focus, and will feel exhausted. We are not robots. The human brain has a quite limited attention span. Don't risk a burnout. Set a timer for breaks and use them to stand up, walk or stretch a bit—my favorite method to time work and breaks: The Pomodoro Technique.

Wave hello to your colleagues on video chat

Stay in touch with each other throughout the day — not just via Slack. A simple video chat can help you stay connected as colleagues, and as humans. If you don't see each other and only write, misunderstandings quickly arise. Treat your colleagues as if they're your second family. Pay attention, be respectful, and tell each other when to have a break or end of the workday.

Move your body  

Just because we are practicing social distancing, or for some, full quarantine, it doesn't mean we cannot move our bodies. If you can leave your house, go for a jog first thing in the morning or at lunch. If you can't leave your house, put on a YouTube workout video and get your blood flowing in the morning. Even a simple stretch on your mat for 30 minutes in the morning, can get you mentally and physically prepared for a day of sitting.

For more tips on working from home, here is open access to our internal work from home best practices document.

If you would like to join our team, we have open positions. Check out our Careers page.

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