The Hyper Hippo team has three different offices in Seattle, Vancouver, and Kelowna, and we also have an employee in Nova Scotia, so you might say we’re seasoned veterans when it comes to working remotely.
Even still, the recent COVID-19 pandemic gave us the opportunity to look at the ways in which we’re set up to work from home.
Our number one priority during any crisis is ensuring our team members and their families are safe and cared for.
We have a duty of care to our employees that they’re tech-enabled to work at home for an extended period if they need to. But you don’t just send your team home with their laptops and expect the same quality of work. In addition to taking care of our team’s physical health, we also pay close attention to their mental health.
With that in mind, here are some tips from the Hippo team for how to work from home. Some you may have heard before, but since we’d pulled this together for our team, we thought we’d share it. There are a few gems in here that might change the way you work for good… particularly if you’ve got a washing machine nearby.
Create a routine
- Set a routine and revel in it. It might sound trivial, but building routines are really great for getting you in the work mindset.
- Start the day as normal. Get up, get dressed, shower, have breakfast like you would if you are going to the office. It’s a bit of a pavlovian response for your body to get mentally ready for the workday.
- Make use of time saved. Use the time you save from the commute for physical and mental well being – work out, meditate, whatever it is, add it to the routine.
- Get up and move. It’s great getting into the flow, but don’t forget to get up and stretch. It’s too easy to sit on the couch all day.
- Leave the house. Make sure you get out of the house at least once a day. It helps break up spending 24hrs a day in the same place.
- Don’t burn out. Figure out the best routine between work time and chill time, but have plenty of chill time.
- Healthy body, healthy mind. If you’re working from home, you’ll have access to your fridge at all times. So stock up with healthy snack options.
Build a killer workspace
- Create separation. If you can, set up your workstation away from your living room, bedroom or place that you go to for relaxation. Otherwise, you’ll feel like you should be relaxing when you’re working, and working when you’re relaxing.
- Set up a space. Make sure to have a good setup with screens etc. so that your tech is just as efficient as if you were at the office.
- Pay attention to how you’re sitting. Make sure your set up is as ergonomic as possible
- Be heard. Make sure you have a good headset (ideally with a noise-canceling microphone (hard to find)) and a good webcam.
- Look good on screen. Ensure you have a professional line of sight for your webcam for video-conferencing.
- Keep it tidy! It’s easy to get distracted when it gets messy, even if you’re not mentally aware of it.
- Add some plants. Plants can improve your air quality, mood, and productivity.
Prepare for distractions
- Set boundaries at home. Make sure your family or roommates know your work hours and to treat those hours as if you are at the office. Managing expectations in the household during work hours becomes an integral part of working from home the larger the family is
- Turn off social. (Unless your job is social) Turn off Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp, and don’t let friends distract you too much, unless it’s during breaks.
- Create a visual sign. Constant distractions driving you crazy? Have a stoplight for family members so any interruption can be quickly culled.
Focus, focus, focus
- Too quiet? Try some background noise. Some people can handle the white noise of daytime tv, radio, or even a white noise machine, but make sure it’s a positive and not a distraction.
- Turn on some music. You can now really incorporate music to help focus! Consider tailoring the type or genre of music to the tasks at hand like something intense for cleaning your inbox but then some ambiance for focus based stuff.
- Get started early. Make the most of your evening by getting off to an early start.
- Never wear pyjamas. You don’t need to wear a shirt and a tie, but putting on real clothes will make you more productive.
- Schedule your time. Scheduling will help you to stay flexible and get work done.
- Learn new tricks. Try the Pomodoro Method to keep yourself focussed.
- Jump into your day. Try not to procrastinate too much. If you start pottering around, you’ll end up having a much longer workday than you would in the office.
- Separate home and work. Keep a master list of todo’s, separate your professional and home ones but tackle them both
- Get creative. Use your laundry as a timer, by pairing the duration to a task and you’ll notice you will often accomplish the task in under the time.
- Less can be more. You don’t necessarily need three monitors. Working with less can help you focus more.
Stay connected with your colleagues
- Create virtual watercooler moments. Use Slack for random coffee talk as well as work. It helps it seem like you are all together.
- Know when to book a meeting. If anything is important or you find yourself going back and forth on Slack, just set up a quick Google Meet instead.
- Still have stand-ups. Just do them with Google meet. Also give yourself a little more time with them so you can have a little office banter before and after, that you miss out on being remote.
- Don’t be late for video meetings! Expectations are higher that you’re available. So do the extra when it comes to communication and
- Check in throughout the day. Commenting on Slack posts or posting interesting articles can give the perception of engagement that can be beneficial.
- Be social. Many flexible workers are challenged by the lack of social interaction. Forge your own and organize social interests and meet with co-workers or ex-colleagues for lunch.
- Share what you’re working on. It’s easy to get caught up in everyday tasks when you’re on your own, so make sure you share your efforts.
- Involve others in your work. Ask for feedback, or for someone to chip in on a task. It’ll improve your work and you’ll feel less isolated.
Make the most of it!
- Cook more! One of the huge advantages is how much healthier and better you can eat now and you can prep or plan meals the day before to really maximize the time.
- Turn your music up as loud as you want! You don’t disturb your colleagues if they’re not in the same room as you.
- Get a pet. Pets are great for little petting breaks and they love the added affection of having you home.
- Go out for lunch. Take advantage of working in a different part of town and take a walk through the park or (if it’s warm enough) eat outside.
- Social isolating? You don’t have to be lonely. Set up a virtual Hangout with friends. Play online together, start your own DND group, or host a book group.
- Turn up the tunes. If you’re not disturbing your roommates, you can turn your music up as loud as you want!
Do you have any tips to share with us? We’d love to hear from you.
Interested in working at Hyper Hippo? Check out our current roles.