COVID-19: Our Working From Home Survival Kit
We’ve worked remotely for a combined 43 years, so in these trying times with COVID-19 we wanted to put something together that we hope will help you stay focused and productive.
By Barry Alt
We’ve put together a list of software, equipment, best practices and productivity tips which has made our life working from home much easier and more productive over the years.
Below are the best practices, equipment, and online software tools (with links) that we follow and use every day working with our remote team, clients and business associates all over the world.
10 Best Practices and Productivity Tips
WARNING : Working remotely from home is NOT for the weak at heart or the undisciplined. Working from home does not mean you’re on vacation! When working from home you need to make sure you have even more structure and discipline than at the office. You may ask why, it should be easy, right? WRONG!
When you work in an office environment most people have to be in the office and at their desk ready to start their day at a set time. If you fail at this and show up late or in your PJs without a shower and with your hair a mess, you may not be in that position for very long.
We’ve included some key tips that bosses, managers, and staff can follow that will help them succeed while working remotely from home and also be super productive.
- Get dressed for success just as if you were heading into the office: It’s tempting to just land on the couch with your PJs on and your laptop in hand and start your day with the morning show on, but all we can say is DON’T DO IT. We’re hoping all of this is short term so get dressed for the day as you normally would, OK maybe sans the tie and heels but ditch the PJs and sweatpants. Not doing this builds laziness and leads to unproductive work – and a bad back.
- Get there on time and shut down on time: OK you only have to walk a few feet to your office but that doesn’t mean you can get there whenever you please. If your start time is 9am make sure you’re at your desk at that start time and you’re ready to go. And a quote we’ve heard a number of times “Early is On Time, On Time is Late, and Late is Unacceptable!” Likewise if you normally shut down at 5 pm to head home for the day don’t change that routine.
- Keep your desk area as you would at work (not in bed!): Set up your work environment as close as possible to what you have at work. Keep it organized and clean.
- Avoid distractions: This is a big one. Having that TV on while you’re signed into social media is a recipe for disaster and can be a huge time suck. Turn the TV off, log out of all social media and turn off any notifications that will be a distraction.
- Your family needs to know the rules: For those who have a partner or kids at home, you’ll need to educate them on the importance of your time at work. They need to understand that this is no different than when you’re at the office. Let them know that you’ll be available at your regular break times. Speaking of breaks, these are very important so don’t forget to take a break now and then and also get up a stretch every so often. Some people take a 15-minute break at 10 and 3 with a 30-60 minute lunch break at noon, this is a great time to reconnect with others in the household. Try to keep the same schedule as you do at the office.
- Schedule Work Sessions: In an office environment where you’re in the same area, whether it be in a cubicle next to a team member or someone across the office, it’s a very different world when you’re at home alone talking to yourself. Schedule 30- to 60-minute work sessions with a team member or multiple team members. Chat for 5 minutes or so with everyone taking notes on what they’ll be focusing on. Set a timer for a set time (25 minutes minimum) then mute your mic and get to work. Only un-mute if you have a question or need help. At the end of the session, everyone reports on what they got accomplished.
- Lighting for video: OK, if you’re not used to being on video with the camera make sure you pay attention to where you’re seated, where your camera is pointing and test the video before you start. You might need to have a shade you can close if you have a window behind you as the light (depending on location) can wash you out. You can also add lighting where needed to brighten things up, see some options provided below.
- Your background: If you’re meeting with clients or recording videos to be posted online you’ll want to pay attention to your background and what’s behind you. Keep it neat and minimal.
- Implement online project management and communications tools: If your business does not currently use a project management and/or communication tool other than email you might want to consider looking into using these types of SaaS (Software as a service) tools listed below. Adding these tools to your company’s tool kit will help increase productivity and communication with your remote team.
- Finally for The Boss: Keep in mind that this may be all new to you and your staff so give your team a little slack while they get things set up. If you had a daily stand up or regularly scheduled meetings, don’t change a thing – just move those to tools like Zoom (more info on that below).
Here’s a great article from Think with Google on Working from home? 4 tips for staying productive.
Health and Wellness
- Breathe – Check out this short video from our friends over at Archmark as a reminder to take time for yourself. See the comments on this Linkedin post for more self-care tips.
- Brain.fm – Music to help you focus, relax, or sleep.
- Core Power Yoga – Free online classes are pre-recorded and range from 30 minutes to up to an hour long. The studio is also offering online guided breathing practices and meditations.
- Drift to Peace – Liminal Relaxation Session by Mike Parker
- Headspace – Free meditations you can listen to anytime.
- Planet Fitness – Offering free workouts on Facebook Live daily at 7 p.m. ET. For individuals who can’t make it to the live workout, they will be able to view the workout afterwards on the Planet Fitness Facebook page and YouTube channel.
We’ve compiled a list of equipment with links that we’ve found to be helpful and of high quality. If you’re using a desktop computer you may need at least a quality camera and mic or USB headset. Most laptops have built-in cameras and microphones. We’ve learned that most laptop cameras aren’t the greatest when it comes to the quality of the video. So if you’re going to be working from home or remotely for a long period of time you should at least pick up a quality camera. We’ve included a couple of options below
- Logitech Video 1080p camera that you can use with your desktop, laptop or attached to a tripod. These also come with an internal mic and software that will allow you to zoom in and better control your camera.
- Razer Kiyo Streaming webcam with LED light
Some laptops and cameras come with built-in mics that work fine but if you want quality audio for recordings we recommend Yeti or other higher quality mics.
- Yeti USB Mic – The Logitech camera listed above also has a good quality mic but if you plan to record videos long term, for online training or distribution this mic is much better. You can also purchase it in a bundle with other goodies, just search Amazon.
- Blue Snowball USB Microphone…
Please head on over to the Motorhead Digital Blog for the rest of this article.
Barry is the founder of Motorhead Digital, providing signature Marketing Maximizer™ programs specifically developed for auto restoration, performance and restyling shops. These programs are geared towards customer acquisition and conversion to keep those project bookings coming. With over 23 years of experience in digital marketing and web development, Barry’s goal is to help clients market and grow their shops through strategic marketing practices. You can reach him at (585) 766-9785, firstname.lastname@example.org or online at MotorheadDigital.com