Managing Social Distancing with Your Work Team
Published on 20 Mar by Melissa Itwar
The current global health crisis is unlike anything modern society has seen before. Although COVID-19 is far more aggressive than recent pandemics, and much more dangerous given exponential global population growth since then, thankfully modern technology means life doesn’t have to come to a standstill.
With the help of the internet and tools like video conferencing, you may have found yourself suddenly working from home and collaborating with your teammates from afar. And while this is a great option to have in civic emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic, figuring out how to manage your own work remotely - let alone team efforts - for an extended period of time is a very new phenomenon, rife with challenges.
COVID-19 may have you stuck at home in order to protect your health, making it difficult to focus on much else. It’s important to stay mindful of how COVID-19 also affects your mental and emotional well-being, and that of your team, in order to support each other through this unpredictable period while also maintaining productivity.
As the team at Xi Digital also adjusts to this period of working in self-isolation, we’re sharing some helpful things to be mindful of, as well as how we’re managing working from home, together.
Taking Care of Yourself
While working from home, it’s very easy for days to blur together. Without having to leave the house for work, you may find you don’t get outside at all for days at a time, and selfcare may decline as a result. It’s incredibly easy to find yourself less motivated when all you have to do in order to work is sit up in bed with your laptop. Here are a few ways you can make sure to take care of yourself while working from home:
1. Nourish Your Body
As we’re all likely more sedentary than usual while working from home, it’s important to make sure we eat well. Junk food, though easy to store for a long time, won’t help with your energy levels. When/if you take a rare trip to the grocery store, stock up on vegetables and lean meats that freeze well, and whole grains that will support your focus and concentration amid the distractions of working from home.
It’s also important to take care of personal hygiene, which includes tidying up your living space. A combination of not showering, not cleaning up, and not eating well can weaken your immune system, and make you more vulnerable to COVID-19.
A common misconception about working from home is that employees are less productive while at home. However, productivity is often increased since employees have nowhere to go. It’s easy to work through lunch breaks, and well into dinner time when you’re not thinking about leaving your safe space to commute to and from the office. Make sure to take breaks throughout the day, and make a point of stepping away from work at an appropriate time at the end of the day. And while it’s tempting to stay up late because you don’t have to catch a train at 7am, you should still try to get 8 hours of sleep each night.
3. Pay Attention to Your Mental Health
We spend more time with our co-workers than anyone else in our lives; while working from home, we’re now likely spending those 40 hours each week alone, or with family members we’re not used to spending so much time with. You may find yourself feeling isolated and lonely while managing your workload, or totally overwhelmed and unable to concentrate.
You can support your mental health in small ways by starting your day with yoga, and pausing to meditate when you feel anxious. Although you may be reluctant to go outside, stepping out into the sun for a few minutes of natural Vitamin D can make a huge difference in your mood. If you can’t get outside, taking Vitamin supplements can help replenish deficiencies that affect mood and energy levels.
Taking Care of Work
Working from home isn’t easy. There are a lot of distractions just from being in a space of comfort, with all of your personal belongings within reach. You may have children who are also at home during COVID-19 social distancing, as well as pets, and partners - some of whom may be stuck at home, but not working because their workplace has shut down altogether.
Here’s how our team is maintaining productivity, and staying on-schedule with our project timelines thus far:
1. Daily Check Ins & Communications
As a highly-collaborative work environment, the Xi Digital team is accustomed to constant, instant communication. Our individual teams often rely on the work of several others in order to complete projects, so regular check-ins are imperative to ensuring client deliverables stay on schedule, and things do not get missed.
Using online chat, Xi Digital employees communicate every morning, and throughout the day. We’ve set up a main group chat for all employees, plus separate group chats for our different teams, and employees who normally correspond throughout the day.
With our usual in-office work schedule, we have weekly marketing team meetings. For the duration of the time that we’ll be working from home, we’re having these meetings over video calls using Skype (just one of many great options available for video conferencing), and we’ve expanded it to include our entire team, with at least 2 more video calls each week. This will give us ample opportunities to not just ensure that our collaborative work and company goals stay on schedule, but it also gives us a chance to socialize and ease the tension of not having information or support within arm’s reach.
2. Designated Home Work Spaces
With schools and daycares closed, many people are having to multitask parenting while working from home. Between children’s cartoons on TV, and toys scattered around the house, you could find it difficult to switch from parent mode to work mode.
If you have a partner or roommate at home with you, you can help each other to balance your work and home life together. Agreeing on designated work areas in the home can help you to stay on task; your workspace should be outside of the bedroom to avoid feeling sluggish during the day, and separate from common social areas that have toys and distractions . You can also take turns occupying the kids throughout the work day while the other gets some quiet time to focus on work. A little bit of cooperation in a shared space can go a long way.
Xi Digital has always been very particular with making sure all data and documents are saved online to a cloud shared drive, so that all information is centralized and accessible to all employees. This has helped make the transition to a work from home system almost seamless, as we are able to access documents needed for our work from anywhere that has internet access.
From client content, to internal process documents, to photos, every file used in our work is carefully saved in it’s appropriate location with a standard naming convention. We can find anything we’re looking for, even if we don’t know the document title.
Additionally, shared calendars and project management software allows all team members to know each other’s schedule and workload. We’re able to know who’s working on what, and how to plan future projects.
4. Have Patience
With everything being said over email, text, and chat, there will be inevitable delays in responses, or lags and interruptions in communication. You may plan to work on a task, only to find you need something from someone else in order to do it. You email or message them, and may not get a response until later in the day. Without the ability to walk into someone’s office, these things will happen so be patient and work on something else while you wait for what you need.
Online communication can also be challenging when trying to interpret the other person’s tone and context. When you’re not seeing a person’s face, or spending those few minutes in the morning catching up on each other’s lives before settling into work, you can interpret frustration or abrasiveness that isn’t directed at you, or may not even exist.
Having patience with each other, and understanding that we’re all going through this together is imperative to helping business and everyday life go on as smoothly as possible. We’ve taken care to check-in with our Xi Digital team members not just about work, but about our kids and families, and overall well-being. We’re normally a very social group of people, so knowing what everyone is up to while away helps keep our dynamic light and low-pressure during such a stressful time.
As the global community navigates through this unprecedented situation, we hope you find some guidance in the strategies that have helped us in trying to live and work normally. Xi Digital’s team is close knit, and believe the best and easiest way to get through COVID-19 and working together from home is by empathising with each other, communicating openly, and having patience with each other.
We wish you a safe, happy, and healthy work from home life during COVID-19!