As a team we would normally be in the office or going to client meetings every day and coming up with new campaign ideas over a cup of tea slice and a slice of cake, so it’s fair to say that working remotely has taken a bit of getting used to!
We’ve been working from home since before the UK lockdown began, so we decided to invite the team to share their tips on staying motivated and working effectively.
Director Kate said: “I’m now working from a small-but-perfectly-formed desk in my bedroom and I have a new furry assistant although he always seems to be on a toilet break! My two-year-old son is being cared for by my husband downstairs and I have to pretend to go to work every day, but mummy is always back in time for lunch and dinner. She must have a sixth sense as she always seems to appear in the kitchen at just the right time!
“I’m in contact with all of my clients and colleagues most days, just like normal really, and although I am missing the face-to-face interaction, tools like Zoom are proving invaluable. To stay motivated while working from home and avoid the obvious distractions I keep regular office hours and never, I repeat never switch on the TV! However, playtime outside at lunchtimes is allowed especially when it’s nice weather!”
Co-director Jez added: “I'm lucky in some ways because the upstairs loft junk room where my grown up son used to sleep is already set up with a desk and a PC so I haven't had to make many adjustments in order to keep working. It's fine until someone wants a Zoom call or a Google Hangout, and then I have to tidy up.
“I am also used to being disturbed by my little dog Luna as she normally comes with me to the office every day. Now she's spoiled for company because my wife and daughter are at home too, but by 4.30pm she's usually bored and pestering me to play with her or take her out!
“I like my routine, so I try to work until about 12.45pm when I go downstairs, warm up some soup and switch on the One O’clock News. Hopefully they'll have some good news for us soon!”
Account Manager Nikki said: “Working from home when you’re not used to it and transitioning your entire daily routine can be quite challenging. After day one of working remotely, I quickly realised that I needed to do everything in my power to make my working environment a nice and enjoyable space. So, I moved my working desk to an area of my house which has more natural light and made sure it was decluttered (the day before I was working on the dining room table which had lots of paperwork on it!).
“While adapting to the new routine, I have made sure to stick to a similar schedule by starting work at the same time and ensuring I have regular breaks as I would at work. There can be a tendency to cut out regular screen breaks when working from the comfort of your home, but it’s important to consider that you’re not taking as many steps as you would at lunchtime, by walking around the office or making a tea round.
“I’m certainly missing elements of my usual commute which would require me to walk 20 minutes, followed by a short train journey and then another quick walk. To compensate for the lack of movement, I’ve tried to stick to eating healthily and incorporating some form of daily exercise. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that a fair amount of snacks, treats and biscuits have kept me going throughout this strange period of time. When the weather has been nice, I’ve taken the opportunity to sit outside during my lunchbreaks to get a much-needed dose of vitamin D!”
Our Senior Marketing Manager Sharon told us how she’s been adjusting: “I have been working remotely for over two weeks now and during that time I've also had a promotion - I'm not only the Senior Marketing Manager for Shooting Star, but I'm also my son’s teacher...and boy is that a tricky job!
“I've sat through some tough board meetings and pitches in my time but adapting to our new way of life has certainly required some of my best negotiating skills! So, when Zoom meetings, strategy planning, phonics and maths are taking over a little, we (me and mini me), take a little time out. We've found a great balance and currently enjoy our time outside together as much as the time at home (also known as school/the office). It's important to get outside and enjoy the lovely weather we've been having, take regular exercise and perhaps even dabble in a little cooking and baking!”
Senior Account Executive Mel commented: “It’s a challenge to communicate as easily with your team when working from home, in-person discussions allow us to bounce ideas off each other and talk through a piece of work while looking at the same screen.
“I find it useful to use WhatsApp voice notes to explain something clearly without spending more time typing out long messages or emails, and it’s a great alternative if a colleague isn’t available for a phone or video call. I also think it’s a great way to manage the work/play balance by sharing funny anecdotes or sharing the stresses of work throughout the day, as you usually would when you’re in the office environment.
“As we’re all in lockdown, it’s important to keep morale up using humour and talking things through to stay feeling as connected with each other as we can.”
Junior Account Executive Millie added: “Adapting to working from home is quite a big change when you’re used to working within a team every day. After realising this was going to be more of a long-term change, I decided the best way to keep myself motivated was to separate my working surroundings from my home surroundings and set up a permanent space in our study (formerly used as a storage room!).
“It’s been really important for me to maintain my usual routine, which could be quite easy to slip out of now my daily commute to my desk takes less than five minutes, so I have tried to keep my weekday routine of getting up and getting ready as similar as possible to before.
“Taking regular screen breaks to make a cup of tea or grab some snacks is also really important when trying to maintain the usual office routine. I’ve been using my lunchbreaks to get some fresh air by taking my dog for long walks, combining my one session of daily exercise, to ensure I also enjoy some sun while it’s here!”
Our Digital Marketer Sam told us how working from home isn’t too far away from normality for him: “I used to work from home and did so for six years! It's not a massive change for me but the core problems are always around communication.
“It's helpful to be shorter and more concise when communicating with a team that works from home. Long emails can quickly swamp people and it becomes difficult to prioritise. The main aim is to keep things simple! Quick catch-ups make sure people are on track but leaves them with enough solo time to focus on their work.”
Account Manager Zoe said: “I worked from home for a period of about six months a couple of years ago so have had some practice, but this is totally different. I’m in a long-distance relationship and was at my boyfriend’s when the PM put us in lockdown. After crying a little bit (from the shock – not the prospect of being in isolation with him!) I decided I would stay here with what few possessions I had.
“The main thing is that I’m able to work from his desk and it’s a much better set up than the one I had at the dining table in my house share in Lincoln. I'm missing having face-to-face contact with my colleagues and clients, but our work WhatsApp group is more active than ever and I’m considering buying shares in Zoom now it’s so popular as a collaboration tool while working from home.
“My boyfriend is currently doing night shifts so we’re like ships in the night, but ‘domestic bliss’ is going well so far. We’re sharing the house and garden with two cats and five chickens, so I’ve got more chores than I’m used to but I’m enjoying living the Good Life… for the most part. At least we’ve got a supply of eggs while they’re like gold dust in the supermarkets!”
In conclusion, regardless of how you are adapting to working at home or adjusting to isolating from face-to-face interaction through this unusual time, it is clear that keeping in regular contact with colleagues, family and friends is key to helping restore some form of normality to your day.
If the weeks and months ahead will show us anything at all, it will be that having the freedom to commute to work, nip to the shops, grab a coffee with a colleague or spend time with loved ones is more often than not taken for granted.
And how ever you are feeling please remember: you are not alone. We are all in this together and this too shall pass!
Stay safe everyone!