The pandemic has made working remotely a necessity for many people, and it comes with both enjoyable benefits and challenges to conquer. Each person's experience is unique and it's up ultimately to you to really build the remote foundation you need for success. Brittany Leverett, an Alumni Success Manager at Flockjay, recently discussed some WFH tips with a panel of Flockjay employees and alumni:
- Dunetka Cussi, Success Advisor at Flockjay
- Toby Ukandu, Account Executive at Stripe and Senior Sales Trainer at Flockjay
- Nagieb Musaid, Admissions Advisor at Flockjay and Former Tech Fellow at Flockjay
- Elise Cox, Customer Success Advisor at Gusto and Former Tech Fellow at Flockjay
We shared Brittany’s top 5 remote work tips first and now it’s time to hear from the rest of the panel. From nailing your WFH routine to unplugging from work to 5 fun work activities to help get you through the pandemic, here’s what they had to say.
On Nailing Your WFH Routine
When COVID-19 shut down virtually every office across the country, millions of daily routines and workflows were turned on their heads. No more morning commutes. No more lunch with the team. And worst of all, no more happy hour.
Fortunately, most of us have been working remotely for over a year now, so we’ve been able to develop a solid WFH routine. However, there’s always room for improvement, especially since we’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future.
One of the ways Nagieb Musaid has honed his work routine is by creating his own commute. Prior to the pandemic, his commute was almost three hours long, which allowed him to hone his skills through music, podcasts, and audiobooks. But after a few months of working from home, he started to really miss his commute. So he decided to put matters into his own hands.
“I started doing a little 10-minute commute, where I squeeze in two to three songs,” says Nagieb. “I try to be quick, but that's like my meditation. That's how I try to cool off and just get back to being me again.”
Another way Nagieb keeps his day running smoothly is by testing his equipment and making sure it works correctly. In his own words, you don’t want to get caught slipping.
“You don't want your camera or audio to be messed up,” says Nagieb. “Also, consider upgrading your internet. If you need to do it, it's worth it. Think of it as a work expense and, if you can, try to negotiate that into your pay as well.”
For Toby Ukandu, adjusting to the shift to remote work cropped up an even tougher challenge: Starting and onboarding at a new job. Toby joined Stripe in the middle of the pandemic and had to connect with his entire team through Zoom, which he found difficult since most of his team had already developed relationships with each other in person. But Toby didn’t give up on forging meaningful bonds through Zoom. He just pivoted his focus to making a few, deep connections rather than a lot of shallow ones.
“I've been trying to find a few people throughout the company that I can develop a real connection with instead of just spreading myself wide and trying to talk to as many people as possible,” says Toby. “I do think it’s important to get out of your network and talk to different people in different departments, but you could spread yourself a little bit too thin doing that.”
If you’re like Toby, you also might feel like you need to hit the ground running at your new company. But he actually recommends doing the opposite, especially when you work remotely.
“I think starting off working from home, you felt like you had to fill in the space with anything, even though they weren’t necessarily valuable,” says Toby. “Instead, just do less and focus on what's actually valuable. And honestly, I'm taking advantage of that to spend time with my family as much as I can. So be sure to take advantage of that benefit too.”
Elise Cox also echoes Toby’s sentiment on doing less when you work remotely.
“When we come into a position, we want to outperform. Everybody’s like, ‘What's the top person doing? I'm going to beat them’, says Toby. “But working from home, it can get overwhelming. So see how the second or third or fourth person is doing and just stay around there for a while, otherwise it can get overwhelming. Just stay in the middle, chill a little bit, get used to what you're doing, and just manage what's happening. Once you get your bearings, then you can be like, ‘All right, I'm coming for the top dog now."
On Unplugging from Work
When you work in the same place that you live, it’s easy to let your professional life bleed into your personal life. You not only have less to do in your free time but you also literally can’t leave your work. So how do you avoid tipping the scales of your work-life balance?
According to Elise Cox, who balances her career while being a loving mother and grandmother, setting a hard stop time for work every day is one of the most effective ways to maintain your work-life balance. If you have little ones in your life too, Elise suggests sitting them down for a clear conversation to express which hours you will routinely be unavailable to them and why. Then, when work is over - walk out the virtual door and stick to it!
“I actually have a red end of the day, where I block my calendar for the last hour and a half of the day, just in case someone tries to throw something in there. But when that time comes up, I slam my laptop down. Like I'm done. I have to walk away. It’s honestly a great feeling. ” says Elise. “You have to be protective of your personal time because it’s so easy for it to bleed over. And don't forget to turn those Slack notifications off."
Nagieb Musaid also sets a hard stop time to end his day. But to make sure that he actually sticks to it, he makes an appointment at the gym so he literally has to leave his house.
“I started going to the gym at the time that I want to stop at,” says Nagieb. “It gives me a reason to get out of my office, get out of my room, and actually do something else, which is good for my mental and physical health.”
If you're struggling to find time for yourself within your busy schedule, check out the Reclaim calendar assistant for help with improving flexibility.
5 Fun Work Activities to Help Get You Through the Pandemic
Work obviously has a professional nature, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, especially when we’re cooped up in the house all day.
Here are some fun activities that our panelists do to get through the day at home.
1. Get Goofy at Work
“I love my onesies, and I love giraffes, so every Wednesday, I will put on my giraffe onesie and let folks know if you want me to turn on my camera, they're going to see me with my hood on. And it just lightens the mood. And then if you are doing Zoom, they have a whole bunch of beta testing where you can put on mustaches and all kinds of other things. So we’ll have meetings where I walk in and have a mustache and a beard on, and it's just because, ‘Hey, why not?’” - Elise Cox 🦒
2. Cook New Meals
“One thing that I love to do between work is trying new recipes. It brings me a lot of joy. I just like cooking food that’s nutritious and delicious. I take care of myself and my family that way. That's something that I love to do while working at home. It allows me to be more creative.” -Dunetka Cussi
3. Meditate at the Beginning of the Day
“Before I start my day, I do a little ten to 15-minute meditation to get that Zen and sharpen my mind. I've seen an improvement in my focus over the last two to three weeks. I’m still a newbie, but I've seen an improvement in my concentration during interviews and on the phone. I've even been doing it on my own and just feel like it's helped me out so much. It’s night and day.” - Nagieb Musaid
If you're unfamiliar with meditation or simply haven't gotten around to giving it a try - now is the time! Check out Meditation 101 and try the Headspace app, it's great for beginners.
4. Get Your Smells Right
“I’m all about my candles. I've tried a whole bunch of different kinds of candles. I gotta make sure my smells are right. I light a candle upstairs, downstairs, really everywhere in the morning.” - Toby Ukandu 🕯️
5. Develop a Morning Routine
“I have this really intense morning routine. And if I don't do it, I feel like everything breaks, and I just need to go back and try again. But I get up, I work out, and I make my breakfast and eat it in my workout room. And then I’ll listen to something positive or a random book in the shower. And then I can start work. But all of those things have to be done. I can't break from any part of the process, but that's become my hour and some change before I can come and talk to everybody.” - Brittany Leverett
Make Working Remotely Work for You
Today, right now, is a great time to start putting some of these tips to good use. What works for one person may not work for another, so it's important to be patient and stay curious as you lay the foundation for your most productive remote work environment.