11 tips for remote working during Coronavirus (from a digital nomad)
Coronavirus is pretty much all everyone is talking about these days, and I wouldn’t judge you for being bored of it before even having to begin any kind of quarantine. However, 14-days of self-isolation are a very real thing for millions of people around the globe, and in order for the world economy not to collapse (I mean, it’s well on its way but let’s limit some damage here), it’s essential that we keep as many people productively working from home as possible.
While it’s not an option for every type of role, I have to admit that this working from home policy has got me a little excited in the sense that this could be the turning point for employers seeing the efficiency and value in remote working, allowing more and more people to have flexibility in their location and lifestyle after the COVID-19 crisis is over. And that means… more employees adopting the freeing life of a digital nomad. Lemme hear a resounding yaaaaaaaasssss.
How is Coronavirus affecting me as a freelancer?
For those who are wondering how the self-employed are faring during this pandemic, when it comes to work as a freelance brand strategy consultant and photographer, Coronavirus has really hit me in the goolies. Clients are freezing or pulling out of branding projects as they navigate travel bans and sliding revenues in the economic downturn, and photographers across the country are struggling to keep afloat as events and shoots get cancelled left, right and centre. This travel blog went from my first ever 3-figure revenue month in February to my first month of non-growth in over a year. My affiliate sales are being cancelled and ad revenue is almost zilch. This is a fairly accurate representation of me with my 3 main streams of income right now:
It’s so abysmal that I’m considering using the next couple of months of non-employment to launch a new blog in a different niche to protect myself from future travel-attacking crises. I’m also trying to educate myself in the stock market (with lots of late-night studying and the PaperMoney simulator!) so I can either scrape back some lost earnings or just have a bit of quarantine-time entertainment spunking a portion of my savings. Fun times ahead!
Tips for Remote Working during Coronavirus
Anyway, enough about me. There are going to be a lot of people the world over who are this week experiencing remote working for the first time, and therefore also seeing first-hand some of the difficulties that come with staying on top of things, keeping motivated and being up-to-date with your team. I’ve therefore put together some tips for remote working during Coronavirus, rounded up from my time as a digital nomad. If you develop a taste for this working style, don’t forget to become a subscriber to get a free download of the 7 steps to help you become a digital nomad eBook.
1. Claim your space
Unfortunately, finding a cute little coffee shop for some remote working during Coronavirus is not an option right now. So, in place of going to the Winchester until this all blows over (granted, maybe only Brits will get that reference), you’re going to have to secure a good working space (or two!) at home. Make sure you have a solid desk with no infuriating wobbles, a comfy chair and enough surface space to set up your laptop, notepad and any other bits and bobs that keep you organised. Having this in a bright, naturally-lit room can make all the difference to your mood. Go crazy with a mini cactus.
2. Declare it henceforth holy
Once you have your designated place for remote working during Coronavirus, this space needs to become a sacred little corner for you, in which your brain automatically knows that it’s business time. If you’re going to have a break to scroll through Facebook or watch spotty 18-year-olds crack one-liners on TikTok, make sure you do so in a different part of your house to keep this workspace free of the dossing mindset. In the same way, make sure you keep your non-worky parts of the house strictly non-worky. In particular, your bed should be a work-free zone so that when it does come to settling in for the night, your mind knows it can switch off fully.
While it’s not a bad thing to have more than one work space if you like to change up your scenery, make sure your second is just as protected as the first.
3. Keep your morning routine
While the main benefits of remote working during coronavirus are surely going to be sleeping in and wearing PJs all day, it can really help with your focus and productivity to wake up earlier than your shift actually starts to do your normal shower/shit/shave routine, change into adult clothes and eat a proper breakfast. You may even consider simulating your usual commute to get your brain in the mood to work:
4. Check in regularly with your team
All set up and ready to go? Let’s get stuck in, but being physically apart from others doesn’t mean you’re working alone. Probably my most important piece of advice for successfully remote working during Coronavirus is simply to stay in contact with your teammates. This not only keeps your finger on the pulse with all that’s going on in the virtual office, but also convinces them of the fact that you are actually taking working from home seriously. Lots of employers are hesitant about allowing people to work remotely for the simple fact that they don’t trust them to be productive (a fair concern, to be honest), so do what you can to show them otherwise. Apps like Slack and Google Hangouts can be really helpful for remote teams.
5. Micro-manage your schedule
Cooped up at home, away from supervision and surrounded by homely distractions, it’s super easy to lose focus and accidentally idle the hours away. One minute you’re pep-talking yourself up for a crazy productive work day and then you blink and it’s 3pm, you’re munching on a batch of fairycakes fresh out the oven, there’s a receipt for £120 worth of clothes from ASOS in your inbox and you’re seriously considering cutting bangs into your hair.
In order to keep my focus, and also stop any suddenly mega-appealing domestic chores from finding their way into my working day, I’ve found that micro-managing my schedule, with hourly slots and breaking tasks down into mini checklists has been crazy helpful in staying in the game. It’s also reeeeal satisfying to tick things off, amiright?! Key to this has been my Peachly weekly planner; it holds me accountable whenever my self-control cannot! Spending each morning reviewing your schedule is also a great way to get your head in the zone.
6. Be strict in your working hours
While sometimes you simply can’t help needing to spend some extra time working after hours, working remotely during Coronavirus does make it easy for these longer work hours to slip casually into your everyday routine. Stick to your official hours wherever possible, and if nothing is urgent, shut that laptop at the time of regular office close. It can be really tempting to stay locked in, working on the sofa all night, and while it may seem good in the short run, it’s not a healthy way to live and work, nor is it entirely productive. Maintain that life balance!
7. Take regular breaks
Be real now, how many times a day do you actually get up from your desk in the office to get a tea as a poor mask for going for a natter with your work husband or wife? Probbbbbably more than you’d like to admit. But having regular breaks to refresh your mind and stretch your legs is actually a really important part of working sustainably, and that shouldn’t change once you’re working remotely during Coronavirus. Having a little walk around the kitchen and a chat with whoever will listen for a few minutes every hour does my head wonders.
8. Designate meal times
Not only does this give your brain a proper break in the middle of the day, but taking the time to fully step away from your work and concentrate on a real meal will also stop you snacking and grazing throughout the day. Putting on weight is remarkably easy when you’re stuck working at home with a fridge full of stockpiled food!
9. Get outside at least once a day
Don’t neglect to spare some time for this in your micro-schedule. Every day. After working remotely during Coronavirus, it might feel easy at first to want to fall into your usual introverted routine of wrapping up in a blanket and binging Netflix after a long day at work, but the truth is that you need to get your commute-free self out the house to stop yourself going stir crazy within the first few days. Plus, we don’t know how long countries like the USA, UK and Colombia (my main reader bases!) are going to allow people to roam the streets freely, so get it while you can! Just a short walk round your block or a nearby park will do the trick. Do try to resist the urge to lick any handrails or cough in old people’s faces.
10. Avoid conflict with your co-inhabitants
If you live with family, friends or your partner and they also happen to be working remotely during Coronavirus, there will inevitably come a time when you get on each others’ tits. The best way to get around this is to set some rules in the beginning, so that you each know how to work around each other and limit any tension. Be sure to inform them when you’re going to be on calls or need some quiet time to think, and have the decency to use a noise-cancelling headset and inside voices for anything that’s going to need sound. Also, don’t let your non-worky space encroach on their work space. It’s sacred, remember?
11. Keep tabs on your mental health
Whether you’re lonely working alone, or overwhelmed working in close quarters with your family or housemates, it’s important to think about your mental health whilst working remotely during Coronavirus. Set boundaries with people you live with, and don’t feel bad if you need to excuse yourself and sit in your room for a little peace and quiet every now and then. Singletons, make sure you’re getting in lots of Skype time with family and friends, and reach out to people you think might be in the same position as you. Concentrate on self-care during your downtime, and if things start to feel more serious, do not hesitate to speak to a doctor. You’ll also find that many therapists will also offer Skype sessions during this pandemic. My friend Diana of True To You Counseling is an excellent example of how well teletherapy can work to help people in all corners of the world.
That’s that, best of luck everyone! If you’ve got any other tips for remote working during Coronavirus to add, let me know in the comments!
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