How to work from home effectively during this time of COVID-19

In this new era of the Corona-virus, work culture is quickly changing here in Seattle and many other cities are following suit. Following the lead of most other tech companies in the city, Uplevel is now operating as a fully-remote team for the next few weeks.
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We’re no stranger to employees choosing to work from home or flexing their hours, but fully remote is a new reality. As we get used to this new way or working, here are top tips that make us most effective when working from home.

Create space

If you have a home office, use it — and make it feel like a dedicated work area. Remove distractions like TVs and social media notifications to give yourself the resources you need to get your work done. If you are the only one working from home, play some music (or use headphones if you are sharing your WFH space with a loved one). If you don’t have a dedicated home office, make some space, maybe the kitchen table or dining room table. Here’s where we don’t recommend working: Your bed, your bathtub, hot-tub, or hammock. Save those places for your post-work relaxation time. 

Prepare yourself for work

That means, pretend like you are going to work. Follow the same routine — showering, eating on your normal schedule, and wearing what you might usually wear to work (or at least video-appropriate attire). But hey – If you have to dial into a call at 3am with a remote team in India, we won’t judge you for staying in your pajamas. 

Opt for video, not just phone

Why rely on a phone call when you can see someone? Without video cues, it’s hard to read people and also harder to connect with people. If you have the opportunity to use video then use it. (That’s why it’s important to follow number 1 and 2 above too). Video calls are now available on so many different paid and free platforms (Slack, Google Hangouts, Zoom, BlueJeans, etc.).  

Create a ‘do not disturb’ (DND) signal

If you have others at home, it’s important to set boundaries as to when you can and can’t be interrupted (of course, if there’s an emergency, all bets are off). Sometimes it can be as easy as leaving the door open or closed based on your availability. Just make sure everyone in your home is aware of what the signal means (and remind them every once in a while).

Use it as an opportunity for Deep Work

While you’re working from home, it’s a great time to set aside time for a brain-heavy project that you can dive into with Deep Work time. Once you have your space set up, use the shoulder-tap and distraction-free environment to finish that meaty project you haven’t been able to get to. 

Take a break

You take breaks at work to stop at the coffee machine, head to the restroom or take a quick stretch break. Make sure you give yourself breaks when you’re working from home as well. Take a break to eat your lunch without a screen, walk around the block a few times, or hang out with your housemates for a few minutes. Just make sure your break doesn’t turn into turning on the TV and binge watching 3 episodes of Silicon Valley (you can do that after work).

Find ways to be social with your team

You can use Slack channels or other platforms (like Teams) to create opportunities to connect socially with your teammates. At Uplevel, we have a channel to share playlists we are listening to and have even held video-based charades games as a way for everyone to take a break. 

Watch your communication style

As you communicate all day over Slack, your favorite emojis and GIFs can be great additions when it’s hard to convey tone. If there is confusion or continued back and forth on a more serious topic, don’t be afraid to move to an impromptu call or video chat. 

Reach out when you need to

Just because you aren’t next to someone, doesn’t mean you can’t reach out for help or to ask a question. Communicate frequently with everyone and if someone reaches out, make sure to respond (unless you are in Deep Work). Also, if you are blocked or stuck, make sure you let someone know. Finally, make sure you and your manager have a regular 1:1 cadence. It’s important to continue to have these meetings virtually.

What’s been working well for you? Tag us in your thoughts on social media!

This post was written by David Youssefnia, PhD, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Uplevel.