Working from home seems to be a new normal for people across the world. While working from home can be a fantastic opportunity, it can also be incredibly isolating and challenging—especially if you're used to going into the office. 👩💻
Buffer's 2020 State of Remote Work revealed that communication/collaboration and loneliness were the most common challenges for remote workers. Processes and norms that work in the office may not work remotely!
The good thing is, you’re not necessarily stuck in your current routine. You have the ability to mix things up to help your productivity. We could all use some new working from home tips!
We've put together a list of 21 ideas that individuals, teams, and companies can use to switch up their remote work routine. Are you ready to dive into the list and add some spice to your day-to-day while working from home? 🌶
Why switching up your WFH routine is a good idea
Day-to-day life WFH can be rather monotonous. Monotony at work can have some harmful side effects. For example, it can cause burnout, lack of focus, low productivity, and ultimately create a disengaged workplace. We know that employee engagement is the cornerstone of a driven company culture.
Many companies can’t afford to be stagnant. These simple tweaks can reinvigorate your team and make them excited about their job again!
7 ways for individuals to change their remote work routine
First, let's talk about how individuals can switch up their work from home routine. If you are an employee, manager, or even a CEO struggling from the monotony of your remote work routine, try out these working from home tips.
Get a WiFi hotspot
Working from home doesn’t mean you should be tethered to your desk. Getting a Wi-Fi hotspot will allow you to be connected to the internet anywhere you go.
Don’t be afraid to mix up where you work—relocate to your patio, or even head to the park! Getting some fresh air in the morning while checking your emails will help you kickstart the day.
Use the 50/10 rule
Work/life balance during this pandemic has been challenging for everyone. Many employees have been working longer hours, and this isn't good. More hours doesn't necessarily mean high-quality work or better productivity.
One way to combat this is by using the 50/10 rule. This rule gives you 50 minutes of focused time, followed by a 10-minute break. Most of us can't stay focused for hours on end. Also check out the Pomodoro Technique, which gives you 25 minutes of focused time and a 5-minute break after each concentrated burst.
Being intentional about the time you spend working and taking breaks will help you better navigate your workday.
Try bullet journaling
Bullet journaling is a wonderful way to take some time for yourself in the morning to clear your head. Journaling can be therapeutic and help you navigate the feelings that you have about the work you do. Don't hold your emotions back or push them aside!
Acknowledging how you feel about work and what lies ahead will help you come to terms with how you are feeling. You can't acknowledge problems at work if you don't consciously know they exist.
Decorate your space
Many of us had to go from working in the office to quickly throwing together a home office. You probably didn't estimate the semi-permanent nature of remote work life.
It's time to take your remote workspace seriously. Take some time to decorate your space, and make it functional and inspiring to be in. A few simple tweaks to your home office like an ergonomic chair, better lighting, framed pictures, and colorful office accessories will make your workday more enjoyable and productive.
Get dressed (actually dressed!) on Fridays
One exciting trend that has been popping up is Fancy Fridays! 💃
Fancy Fridays are a chance to get dressed up, even if you aren't going into the office. Most of us have been living in lounge clothes—and that's okay!—but getting actually dressed can give a much-needed mental boost.
Purchase a standing desk
Investing in a standing desk is a great way to improve your remote work routine.
Office work is also pretty sedentary, but at least you were able to get out of the house, bustle around the office, or run out for lunch.
When you're at home, everything is on your computer. You really don't need to move... at all. A standing desk will allow you to stand up and get in some activity every day.
Be gentle with yourself
No one was prepared for a global pandemic. Dealing with current events and this general weirdness can be a challenge for many people. Be kind to yourself if your project wasn't as successful as you predicted, or if you weren't able to hit everything on your to-do list. Times are stressful! 🤗
We are all learning to cope. Take breaks, scale back your project scope, and be vulnerable with your colleagues. You're doing the best you can.
7 ways for teams to shake up their remote work routine
Next, let’s discuss some excellent ways for teams to get out of their comfort zone. When everyone is working from home, it can be challenging to connect. Here are some tips to bring your team together during this socially-distant time.
Implement project sprints
Often teams get pulled in a million different directions. This lack of focus has a massive impact on what gets done.
Whether you are in engineering, marketing, or customer success—you can use a project sprint model to get work done on time. Focused work will always be better than distracted work.
Limit time spent in meetings
Meetings can be helpful if they are structured productively. Many meetings are unnecessarily long, cumbersome, and without an established goal.
Not only that, but meetings are also expensive! Each hour spent in a meeting is drawing your employees away from an important task—especially if your team is small. Make sure you create agendas for your meetings, and block out time on your calendar for deep focus work. Keep in mind Parkinson’s Law when it comes to meetings.
“It is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
Your meeting will expand to fit the container that you give it. If it’s a thirty-minute meeting, don’t schedule it for an hour.
Build intentional communication with daily standups
Communication can be lacking during this time, especially without smalltalk around the coffee maker! Daily standups are a great way to see your team's faces and understand what they're up to.
Consider how your team members work best before implementing these standups—some employees prefer morning standups to kick off the day, while others think it's disruptive. Find what works best for your team.
Collaborate with another team or company partner
Collaborations can prove to be an effective way to meet other people while breaking yourself out of a work rut. Here are some examples of partnerships that you can run:
- Work with another marketing team on a blog post
- Build a special offer between two sales teams
- Create a contest with another company
- Do a virtual meet and greet with their company using Zoom Rooms
- Host an educational webinar with another company
Meet up with organizations in your state and around the world to make these collaborations happen. Since so many people are working from home, you don't need to be confined to a specific geographical area! 🌎
Give people time to work on exciting projects
Working from home is a lot more pleasant when you can work on a project that invigorates you. Ask everyone to write down an aspect of their job they'd like to focus on.
You can make this a personal sprint or just give them a quarter to make significant progress on this task. Allowing employees to dedicate a few hours a week to a passion project can result in some innovative company features!
Spend time on virtual team development
Learning and development should be at the forefront of your mind.
Create a professional development plan for your team and invest resources in them while everyone is working from home. Whether that's hiring an expert speaker for a team meeting or sharing your department's knowledge, take time to keep everyone up to date with the latest information in your field.
Host a team challenge
Gamification is a great way to spice things up! Gift cards are a great incentivize. Create a team challenge and offer a $50-$100 gift card to a favorite store for the winner. Here are some examples of team challenges:
- How many relevant sales calls/emails can you make in one day?
- Who can build the best UX design for a new software update?
- Who can come up with the most blog post ideas?
- How many relevant potential employees can you reach out to on LinkedIn?
- Who can come up with the best/most creative solution to a company problem?
7 ways for companies to keep their remote work routines fresh
To wrap up, let's discuss seven ways for companies to switch up their work from home routine. These ideas can be utilized at the company level to create connections within your company.
Host social hours
First, try out different kinds of remote social events and activities. Staring at each other in during a Zoom happy hour... isn't that interesting!
Here are some fun social hours you can plan for your team:
- Group work-out session
- Speed get-to-know-you sessions
- Scavenger hunts
- Cooking competition/team lunches
- Arts and crafts sessions
Start scheduling Donut chats
Another way to form cross-departmental bonds is through an app called Donut. All you need is Slack to get partnered with another person at your company. Encourage your team to sign up for a Donut date to get to know each other in a non-work-related way!
Start sharing public recognition
Mix up your remote work routine by implementing a tool for public recognition. People like to be recognized for their hard work, and this can be challenging when everyone is working remotely. You have to find a way to recognize employees, even when you don't meet face-to-face.
A tool like Bonusly be connected to your company's Slack organization, making recognition a breeze. Plus, you can tie recognition to company values, making it even more meaningful to your employees!
Spark conversations through your chat tool
Do you have off-topic channels on your company chat tool? It's easy to drift apart during this time, so these chit-chatty channels helps you keep in the loop with everyone in your company.
Think of it as a virtual water cooler! At Bonusly, we have Slack channels devoted to food, travel, television and movies, and of course, our pets! 🐶😸
Host a town hall or AMA
As we've discussed, communication can lapse during this time. If you have a lot of employees at your company, a town hall could be what you need to keep everyone informed.
At Bonusly, our CEO hosted regular AMAs at the height of COVID-19 so we could ask questions as things changed. And it doesn't have to be all serious—we also loved getting to see his chickens. 🐔
Experiment with flexible scheduling
It's likely your employees have had to cancel vacations, but that doesn't mean they should just work through their planned time off! Your employees can't work all the time without burning out. Make sure you're encouraging people to step away from their jobs.
It's worth it to experiment with flexible scheduling, especially now for parents with kids at home.
Plan a virtual retreat
Last but not least, host a virtual retreat for your team. If you typically have in-person retreats for your organization, there is no reason why you can't transfer that online.
Mix it up!
Mixing up your work from home routine is easier than you think. 🥳
Making these small adjustments to your work from home routine as an individual, team, or company can make all the difference. Which working from home tips will you implement in your work life?
For more great ideas on employee engagement, check out this resource: