The novel coronavirus has reshaped daily life in ways that would have previously been unimaginable for many. One major upheaval that companies, employers, and employees are currently facing is working remotely.
While work-from-home Fridays are something every employee at Next Step looks forward to, the indefinitely closed office and unknown return to personal desks can feel daunting. For those that work in a small, tight knit office, collaboration on client work and internal projects can seem more challenging when you can’t meet at the conference table or talk from across the room.
However, staying positive and continuing to deliver great work to the client continues to be our priority during these times. In fact, now more than ever, the mission of our clients reigns through as they each look to improve healthcare in their own way. We’ve also been working to bring positivity through our Twitter and LinkedIn channels, sharing hacks for working from home, mental health tips to try, and more. We wanted to take this one step further and share thoughts, tips, and tricks from our own team at Next Step Communications on how we continue to stay positive and proactive while working from home!
Working from home has certainly been an adjustment, but developing new routines, while keeping old ones has made the transition easier! For example, I’ve kept to my old schedule when it comes to sending weekly emails, drafting social content, or anything that I had a specific routine for in the office. This not only has kept me on track, but my co-workers still know exactly when things will be sent to them or the client for review.
A new routine has been spending the time I normally would use driving into the office meditating with the Headspace app for a positive and focused start to the morning. I also invested in a variety of colored pens and notebooks to keep my workspace full of color and positive energy. The espresso machine at my new home office (*kitchen table*) & having my pup, Nala around certainly helps as well!
As an incredibly social being (my co-workers can attest to my gift of gab!) working from home has been a bit of a transition. Fortunately, technology has allowed me to keep in touch with my team and continue to work together from afar. By using Google Hangouts’ video feature I am able to call my co-workers with any and all questions, comments, or sometimes just to say hello.
In addition, creating a comfortable and spacious work station in my quiet but bright basement has allowed me to feel like I am still “commuting” to a work-focused place— fortunately the traffic on the stairs down hasn’t been too bad! Finally, taking lunchtime runs around my neighborhood or catching the end of a midday HGTV episode gives me an opportunity to take a break from work and recharge for a productive afternoon.
Like everyone, I couldn’t forecast what this pandemic would bring. I never thought we would be working from home for this long, but luckily for me, my mom and brother are also working from home, so I decided to leave Boston to hole up with my family in Connecticut. While this has definitely been an adjustment, it’s been great to spend time with them through all of this. In terms of a setup, we have all claimed our own sections of the house (I got dibs on the living room and kitchen table), but it has been nice to come together for morning coffee and lunch. For the most part, I have tried to keep my routine as consistent as possible. I can’t open my laptop without my usual cup of coffee!
In an effort to get some fresh air and out of the house during lunch, I’ve been taking our dog, Milo, on walks on trails that can be found throughout the town. Just taking a 30-45 minute walk halfway through the day has let me relax and come back ready to tackle the second half of the day. While I enjoy spending time at home with my family and our two pups, I’m excited for when we can return back to normal and spend my days working with my favorite co-workers!
While I’ve always enjoyed working from home as a fun workplace perk, the transition to doing this full time has been a big one. My partner is also working from home, so we have converted our dining room into our main office, with my computer at one end, his at the other, a puzzle in the middle, and our dog usually asleep on the chairs in between. I feel very lucky that the majority of the work we do can be done remotely without much disturbance, so try and hold onto that positivity throughout the day. That being said, I definitely am missing our office banter, so have started many mid-day video chats to get my fix.
I’ve also been using this time to work on personal development through podcasts and online training. This has allowed me to keep my mindset focused on the opportunities I have, rather than things I’m missing out on. It also means I’ll come out of this quarantine with (hopefully) some new digital skills thanks to our Lynda.com subscription! On a personal note, while the first week home was a free-for-all, I’ve really tried to get back into the routine of meal planning for my week. I did try the theory of getting dressed to feel more normal, but it wasn’t for me. Instead, I’ve enjoyed taking our dog for a quick walk in the mornings while still getting a bit more of a sleep-in.
As someone who thrives on the predictability of my daily routine, the adjustments we’ve all had to make during this crisis have certainly been a challenge. Technology has made the NSC transition to a remote workforce easy to accomplish daily work and stay connected with clients. But now that office banter is over Gchat instead of coffee, I think it is equally important to stay connected and find ways to bring levity and laughter into the workday. Memes always make me laugh and I love Zoom happy hours that let us catch up over a glass of wine and create a sense of normalcy.
With schools closed until May 4 (if not longer), I have joined the millions of parents who are now also trying to homeschool their children. To help keep the train on the tracks, we have created a general daily schedule for the kids that includes schoolwork, outdoor play, activities and screen time. For our family it has also been really useful to divide and conquer the kids a few days during the week. Nigel can take one of the kids into the office for the morning and I can stay home with the other. Breaking up the day this way gives everyone a dedicated work space which is helpful in working more efficiently.
Each day my attention is set on NSC’s two biggest assets – the clients and the team. Sure one might say “What else is important to the company?” but in the past it has been about growth, finding the next employee, planning a great summer outing or finding an end of year holiday party location.
While the news cycle is focused on COVID-19, the team has been working to find new ways to advocate for and support our clients. This includes providing services outside our traditional scope of work. I’m really proud of a podcast that the team pulled together and moderated in just three days. Creating value for our clients is always top of mind, but even more important right now.
For my team, I want them to know how much I appreciate their continued high standards of work as they deal with their own stresses, while being at home. These are uncertain times for all of us, but as an employee I’m sure there is concern for their jobs. When we started the Agency, Cassie and I decided to be as transparent as possible about the health of the business. In the past, the updates have been mostly positive — but in these uncertain times I want the team to know how important they are to the success of NSC today and also going forward.
My goal is that we get through this together as a team with our partner clients and we find ourselves focused on a summer outing or end of year holiday party sooner than later!