Coronavirus’ Effects on Business
Part 1: How to be Productive When Working from Home
The Coronavirus has brought a number of issues to the surface in America. Not only are we experiencing issues with our healthcare system and CDC testing, but we’re seeing a steep decline in the stock market, and we’re learning that most meetings can actually be emails. While, like everyone else, we can talk about what we hear on the news regarding COVID-19 and its effects all day long, we’re not healthcare professionals nor are we financial advisors, so we’d like to stick to talking about the topics that we can actually provide valuable insight on. In this two-part blog series, we will discuss first, working remotely, and second, running a small business in a time of crisis. Let’s jump into how to be productive when working from home.
How Summit Collaborations Became a Remote Company
Summit Collaborations CEO, Ashlee Campbell, has had a taste of the remote work life since 2015. In the beginning, much of that was due to business travel requiring work to be done from hotel lobbies or in the middle of tradeshow halls, but when her husband’s job forced them to move overseas for a few years, this became her everyday life. Ashlee quickly realized just how essential working remotely was for military spouses, just like her.
This is how Summit Collaborations was born. Ashlee’s goal became providing others with opportunities that may not be there traditionally. With the unemployment rate for military spouses is higher than the national average, due to constant moving and family obligations, she knew that Summit Collaborations Marketing Agency had to foster a remote work environment. The team now consists of 15 team members operating from around the globe, 60% of which are military spouses. So, how do Ashlee and the Summit Collaborations team manage to work remotely day in and day out?
Tips for Working from Home
Here are a few of our tips and tricks for those of you who may be working from home for the first time that we utilize in our company every day.
Have a Dedicated Workspace
It’s tempting to work from the warmth of your bed or the comfort of the couch, but you may find yourself regretting it. Over years of remote work, we’ve learned that keeping work and home separate is both challenging and necessary. Without having a dedicated workspace to step away from for breaks or at the end of a long day, the line between work time and home time will become blurred. You’ll find yourself easily distracted by both sides of the line, which will more likely than not cause you not to be 100% present in either situation.
Work Within a Schedule
Like having a dedicated workspace, working within a specific schedule will help you remain present and effective at both work and home. If you aren’t used to working from home, you may find yourself falling victim to Parkinson’s Law. Parkinson’s Law essentially means that if you tell yourself you have more time to work because you have the flexibility of doing it from home, you’ll fill all of that space with work even if you could have fit the work into a smaller time. Because of this, we highly recommend still only working within your standard office work hours. And whether you’re in the office or working from home, we’ve found that time blocking your calendar for meetings, checking emails, working on specific projects, and deep work is really effective when it comes to increasing productivity.
Learn What Keeps You Organized
Working from home takes a great deal of self-motivation and dedication. You no longer have someone looking over your shoulder, making sure you show up on time or telling you what to do from across the room (other than your spouse). Working from home means learning how to not only set your own schedule but also how to set your priorities, keep yourself on track for deadlines, and potentially manage a remote team for the first time. Since you’ve probably been in the workforce for a decent amount of time, you probably know what keeps you personally organized, but just in case you haven’t perfected that yet or need that extra push at home, here are a few ideas:
- Use an online project management system like Teamwork (their platform is one of the best we’ve used and is free up to 5 users so it will work great for helping you manage a team as well). Project management tools can help you keep all important conversations regarding a specific topic under one roof.
- Utilize your online calendar to its full advantage for meetings and time blocking like we mentioned earlier
- Use a program like Calendly (also free!) to allow people to see when you’re available and schedule time on your calendar
- Go old school and write down your to-do list. Pro Tip: write your to-do list at the beginning or end of every day, transferring the things you didn’t get complete to the next day. Transferring your list to a new page will help keep your page clean and keep your projects top of your mind.
- Super pro tip: Doing things like writing your “must-completes” on a sticky note and adding it to your to-do list page or writing in different color ink can actually increase your productivity and organization. It sounds crazy, but we highly recommend testing it out. We couldn’t get through our day without a blue pen and stickies!
Use Online Communication Tools
If you’re managing a remote team or are a part of one, there are a few tools that will help you all stay aligned, in addition to a project management system.
- Video chat tools such as Zoom or Google Hangouts can make working remote feel not so lonely. It is also a good way to touch base about projects that require screen sharing.
- Instant messenger tools like Slack allow for individual messaging or dedicated group channels and promote faster communication than emails.
- Workplace engagement tools such as Office Vibes can help keep employee morale up from afar. Office Vibes conducts anonymous surveys that allow teams to provide honest feedback without fear of repercussions.
Getting to Work
We hope these work-from-home productivity tips benefit you through this interesting time, and beyond.
If you own a business or want to start a business, stay tuned for part two of this blog where we will cover exactly what the Coronavirus means for how you operate your business in this time of crisis. Part two will be released in the next few days, so keep checking back or sign up for our newsletter to get it in your inbox!