We all saw that the way we work was changing, but in 2020, it changed a lot faster than anyone could have predicted. Some of us already knew what to expect when working from home (WFH) while others have been forced to adapt to a new way to work. Here are some of our tips for navigating WFHand the effects of social isolation:

Set up lines of communication (async and sync)

Open and effective lines of communication are key. If a team member has a question, to whom do they go to and via which channel? Where are daily team standups happening? How do we communicate with clients? It's important to establish these guidelines early and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Keep in mind that communication occurs in two environments: 1) asynchronous, meaning each person gets the info on their own time, like on a company messaging platform, and 2) synchronous, like when you have team meetings or check-ins. You'll need a good mix of both.

For your team, try an outline like the following:

  1. We’ll be using email to communicate company updates that affect the org.
  2. Sales, Engineering, Marketing, etc. will resume daily communications through Slack. Team leads will create #team-name specific channels.
  3. We have open projects and tasks, we’re quickly working with team leads to set up projects in one hub using a project management tool. Invites will be sent soon.
  4. Move to video for most communications. We’re used to being in an office and a good parallel will be video. We’ll continue using Google Hangouts.
  5. We’ve created a channel in Slack called #banter where teams are encouraged to drop in daily to share a funny meme, gif, story, etc. with the rest of the team. It’ll feel awkward at first but this is a way to run a watercooler in a distributed setting.

This will kick the first few steps of remote work for you or your team into gear. This is a way to show transparency and encourage folks to keep interactions online.

Check your technology and equipment

Do you have what you need to keep working uninterrupted? A good place to start is to list what your daily responsibilities or workload is like and map that to the apps, software, or hardware that you need.

So, let’s say you’re a Product Manager (we know one!). You most likely need a laptop, a comfortable area in your home to work, an external webcam (optional), a set of headphones to keep your calls private, access to all of your daily apps via your home IP (some companies set up filters to block certain sites), and decent wifi connection.

Some may need external monitors or other hardware so ensure that you have that planned out and communicated to your company.

Structure your day

When you’ve gone into your office you may have noticed that you’re usually set to be there at a certain time, folks generally get lunch around the same time, and when it’s time to go you’re either keeping an eye on the clock or your co-worker taps you on the shoulder to go home.

When you start WFH there is none of this. So, how can you structure your day?

  1. Every morning sit down and take 5 minutes to plan out your day. You could do this by writing in a journal or typing it out.
  2. Intentionally cut out time for breakfast, exercise, therapy, lunch, reading, sporadic mental breaks, and "heads down" time around your scheduled meetings.
  3. Add a set time either via a block on your calendar or an alarm when your workday is over. This is crucial as you’ll want to keep working. When that time comes around say goodbye to your team, go offline and step away from your desk. You need this separation to unplug and focus on your personal life. It will help reduce the effects of social isolation.

Don’t forget to socialize!

One of the biggest struggles about working remotely is the isolation. You need to take care of yourself. So, how do we resolve that?

Here are a few ways:

  1. Set a watercooler or 15min. video break with your close co-workers. Talk about anything or bring a topic that everyone can chime in on.
  2. Schedule time to call your partner, friends, parents, etc. for a quick check-in on how things are going.
  3. Join a virtual coffee break with us at Cafecito to meet folks all over the world.

Check out a few habits to make sure you build when working from home to mitigate the effects of social isolation. (www.meetcafecito.com/posts/3-work-from-home-habits-to-start-building-in-2020)