COVID-19 has brought about a bizarre few months of working without the face-to-face interaction we’re all so used to. The pandemic has kept us away from the TourHero office and apart from our teammates. Out of necessity, we’ve been pushed to iron out our approach to working productively and staying motivated during this Work From Home (WFH) period.
Over the many weeks, we’ve picked up some really handy WFH skills that we’re happy to share. Take note of these excellent pointers to keep your focus levels high!
1. Set up a proper workstation
A proper workstation wins half the battle to staying productive at home. First things first: a suitable desk and a comfortable (but not too comfortable) chair are mandatory. There will be no hunching over coffee tables from your cozy living room sofa, and absolutely no lying down on the floor!
From day one of WFH, our leaders made sure every team member had a desk and a chair, and even packed and delivered computer monitors to anyone who needed one.
To avoid any distraction from—or intrusion to—the rest of the household, we make sure to confine our makeshift workstation to an area that involves the least interaction. Some of us prefer the confines of our bedroom, and others prefer being away from the comfy bed.
2. Navigate virtual meetings
In this digital age, many excellent tools exist out there; it’s easy to feel spoilt for choice! The most important thing to remember is to respect everyone’s calendar. This means no scheduling any conflicting meetings! Also, it helps to keep each session productive and informative, which brings us to…
3. Daily standups
Before the day begins, we have daily standup meetings to keep everyone up-to-date on what we’re working on. Standups should last not more than a minute per speaker and should cover the basics:
- Tasks you worked on yesterday
- What you will work on today
- Any blockers you might have that would stop you from getting your tasks done
When working from home, it can be challenging to keep track of what teammates are doing. This session allows everyone to be on the same page. Standup is also something we look forward to because it allows us to say hello to everyone and wish the team a good morning!
4. Weekly town halls
We conduct weekly town hall meetings that require all of us in the company to be present.
For TourHero, this means both the Singapore-based team and India-based team coming together for one big catch-up session. From company announcements to individual team updates, a complete run-down of everything that happened in the past week is covered in this meeting, followed by a Q&A session to address any concerns.
5. Virtual chai
Virtual chai (‘chai’ meaning tea), much like the name suggests, comes in the form of weekly breaks that allow the team to unwind together virtually. This usually happens on a Friday at TourHero, so we get to end the week on a fun note together.
We’ve played online games (like skribbl.io — hilarious with a big group), had themed sharing sessions (“what’s the most memorable travel meal you’ve had?”), and also managed to leave everyone confused and bamboozled with two truths and a lie!
Working from home can often lead to burnout because we tend to forget to leave the confines of our workstation. Weekly virtual chai sessions can help to break the flow of work and remind us that social interaction is essential.
6. Productivity tools
We tap on the benefits of different tools to ensure productivity:
- Slack, as our primary communication channel, replaces the need for e-mail correspondences. Quick and easy to use, Slack has helped us all to collaborate online as efficiently as we do face-to-face.
- Notion works well as an all-in-one workspace where we compile useful information and organize projects, tasks, SOPs, and data for easy reference.
- Clockwise automatically keeps everyone’s Google Calendars aligned and instantly reveals the best meeting times and focus times.
- We use Calendly to set up official meetings with clients and third parties. It syncs up with Google Calendar perfectly!
7. #banter chat on Slack
Despite Slack being a work tool, we introduced a #banter channel for topics unrelated to work. Think team ‘wefies’ and funny experiences shared by teammates… even magic tricks! It is an excellent channel to boost everyone’s morale.
8. Come up with a WFH guide
Our CEO put together a detailed Work From Home guide that included handy tips and tricks to tackle issues during this period. From productivity guidelines to meeting protocols and best practices, these tips helped us slip into the WFH zone a little easier.
9. Stay active
Staying active by regularly taking part in online fitness classes has helped many of us on the team. For those of us who like getting out of bed early, a morning workout before clocking in helps with keeping focused throughout the day. For others, working out in the evening is a great way to destress.
10. Take breaks and leave the house for quick walks… without your phone!
Staying home 24/7 can damage our physical, mental, and emotional well-being, especially if we are on our computer or phones all day. Taking a short walk to the nearby food center for lunch takeaways, or evening strolls around the neighborhood without our mobile devices helps clear the mind after a long day at the desk.
Have any Work From Home tips of your own?
We hope these 10 tips are helpful in keeping the productivity and morale of your team steady during this COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, there are many more ways to make the prevailing Work From Home situation better — we invite you to share with us some of your own tricks that help to make your WFH life less complicated and more enjoyable!