Four weeks ago we entered a new era never before seen. Sure we have all dabbled in working “remotely” a few times a month. In fact, data from CloudApp recently showed that more than 50% of younger generations are already working remotely the majority of the week.
This situation, though, feels different.
March 11th is when it all got real for me. My wife and I were out for our anniversary, and Coronavirus got a face — Tom Hanks and Rudy Gobert both found out they had the virus. Having celebrities contract the virus effectively shut down all sports and led to decisions for many companies across the country to advise employees to work from home.
The world stood still.
Office workers around the world suddenly found themselves in a new state of remote work. Employees scrambled to find ways to connect with their co-workers, collaborate, and get work done. Now a month into the madness — what have we learned about the current state of remote office work?
Work hours have completely shifted.
The ol’ nine to five has become a 7 to 10:30, 12 to 3, and 9 to 11. The days are becoming fluid as people are now forced to add homeschooling, dog walking, mental breaks, isolation, human connection time, and new distractions.
According to a recent study from CloudApp, COVID-19 has shifted working habits. People are working more during the hours that they formally used for their morning commute and in the off-hours. What does this mean for us going forward?
Morning commute usage has spiked 2.2x while after-hours work has spiked 2.1x since March 13th.
As a Dad of three kids under the age of seven, I can speak to this shift completely. My once highly routine work schedule has now been completely shattered working from home with kids.
Last week I mentioned the paradigm shift in a post about education. I wrote on the struggle to try and balance the new need to be a teacher, parent, and full-time employee.
My kids join my Zoom calls, and my wife and I take turns helping them with their school packets. We’ve had to divide up getting them lunch and snacks, and I have also tried to take more productivity breaks to play and enjoy the extra time with them.
All of these things have shifted my work schedule to include much more “catch up” time after hours.
Video usage spiking as people look to collaborate virtually.
The first thing I did with my team when we decided to start working from home is to set up several stand up meetings over Zoom to help us adjust. The video connection has proved to be a valuable tool.
Zoom has seen large growth in usage over the last four weeks. According to a report from Quora, usage on Zoom has seen a 124% increase in terms searched over an average day.
In the same report, CloudApp showed that video usage of its product by businesses is up nearly 3x, with Executives leading the way for usage as companies try and find ways to connect with employees and weather the storm.
Video has shown to be the preferred medium for keeping the colleague connection. Companies all over the world are posting their Zoom lunches, scavenger hunts, and kids joining meetings. It will only continue to grow during this crisis.
Remote work recommendations.
With the newfound data showing video increases and shifts in working behavior, what can you and your team do to find the most success while working remotely? There are lots of remote work guides and opinions out there, but here are a few suggestions that have worked for me and my team.
Set up a routine.
Our brains can only handle so many decisions and change each day. The quicker you can get into a routine that works for you the better.
Your routine should be as close to what a normal workday would be as possible. That includes putting pants on instead of pajamas, most days. You will find that having a little structure will help you to accomplish deep work and be more efficient with your time.
Take breaks, get out.
The COVID-19 reality is far from a normal working from home experience. During this time it’s crucial to take lot so breaks throughout the day. Walk your dog, help your kids with school, get outside, feed yourself physically and emotionally. You may find that you have to do a little catch-up work at the end of the day, and that’s okay.
Don’t work too late at night, make sure to give your body enough time to rest and recoup for the next day.
Device breaks are also crucial. Find ways to unplug that don’t always involve a screen. Read a paper-page book instead of reading from one of your devices.
Connect with colleagues and friends with video.
Yes, this is definitely a strange time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of it. Last week at CloudApp we did a virtual scavenger hunt. Employees had 10 minutes to find 10 commonly found household items, with a few wild cards.
Taking this break was a fun way to engage with each other and connect in a way that wasn’t just talking about the virus, or struggles working from home.
I’ve seen my kids do Zoom calls with their friends, and their teachers send CloudApp videos of lesson plans. My wife uses Marco Polo to connect with friends, family, and neighbors. Video usage is a great way to connect during this time. Make it fun.
There is good that can come from all of this craziness. We are all developing skills and playbooks on how to work and connect remotely. We will eventually come out of the quarantine stronger and better than we were before. These tips mixed with a little bit of effort can help to make sure we all come out on top.
Image Credit: Ivan Bertolazzi, Pexels