Elastic’s Top Tips for Working from Home

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Patrick Cumming

Last week we made the decision as a business to all work from home. Unlike many, we’re in a fortunate enough position to be able to do that during this difficult and uncomfortable time. 

Despite many of us initially writing this whole thing off as media sensationalism, we quickly realised the severity of the situation – and felt compelled to do what little we could as a business to help flatten the curve. 

Remote server access was setup, iMacs were taxied across Scotland – from Falkirk to Llinthgow – and, the next day, we began our first remote catch up with Zoom.

Of course, when you’re a business that’s used to having an office filled with creatives who are always teeming with ideas and used to riffing off each other for inspiration, working from home presents many challenges.

Not only that, but there’s also the issue of keeping everyone productive and motivated. After all, we’ve still got projects, campaigns and deadlines we need to not only hit, but deliver to our usual Elastic high standards.

In this article, I’ll be shedding some light on some of our top tips for working from home. If you, like us, have found yourself working from home, hopefully you’ll find some valuable tips to help make the transition a little more seamless.

Tip #1 – Get up. Get showered. Get dressed.

One of the most important things for anyone working from home is to avoid falling into the trap of NOT treating it like a typical day at the office. 

And that means it’s really important to make sure you follow your usual routine of getting up, showered, and dressed as you would any other working day.

Not only will this stop your mind from treating it like a holiday (which it isn’t!), it’ll also help keep some normality in your routine and get your mind into a professional headspace ready to deliver your best work.

Most of all, this means no attending meetings “business up top, party down below”. If you wouldn’t leave the house wearing it, it’s definitely not suitable for your workday!

Tip #2 – Zoom. Zoom. Zoom.

There’s a reason LITERALLY every single book on how to run a successful business zeroes in on communication as one of the key pillars – because it is. 

And that means while you’re all working from home, it’s vital to keep up good communication channels.

Since we’re used to working with many of our clients remotely, we were all pretty well set up with the right tools for the job from the start. 

We use Basecamp to communicate with clients and share files, ResourceGuru to manage our daily workloads, Trello to create to-do lists of work to be done and Zoom to host conference calls and meetings. 

These tools have been vital for keeping things moving and keeping everyone on track and motivated.

We agreed from the offset to host 9 am and 5 pm daily team catch-ups via Zoom to discuss projects and find out where everybody is up to. We also set up a group chat on Zoom so the team could still talk throughout the day. 

Office chats and daily banter is one of the best parts of our office culture as it keeps everyone positive and motivated. The Zoom chat is our stand-in replacement for that – and, it’s ideal for keeping everyone smiling.

Tip #3 – Use productivity hacks

One of the biggest dangers of working from home is avoiding distraction.

Let’s face it, you’re not used to having to work with Netflix, Fortnite, your dog Molly, partner or flatmates metres away, desperate to pull you away from your work.

To counteract this, it’s good to implement some productivity hacks that help you avoid distraction and quickly get into the zone.

If possible, try and work in an isolated room and get rid of any potential distractions. No TV. No games console. No pets. No Rubik’s cubes. No YouTube videos about how to wrap a coin across your knuckle – maybe that last one’s just me…

Depending on how your brain works, you could try finding some tranquillity with focus music. Pop your headphones in, get lost in the music, and get to it. This will help drown out background noise (like the dog barking) to keep you focussed on your task.

If you prefer to work in silence, it might be worth investing in some noise-cancelling earplugs to keep you at peace. Whatever works for you.

Finally, try working in sprints. I usually do 60-90 minutes followed by a quick 5-10 minute break. Working this way I find I get more done and deviate less from what I’m doing.

For some, 60-90 minutes may be too long. If this is the case for you, you could try working Pomodoro style by working 25-minute bursts, with 5-minute breaks.

Tip #4 – Get some fresh air

While under quarantine, it’s obviously really important to try and minimise your social contact as much as possible.

That said, if you stay indoors the whole time, you’re very likely to go stir crazy. Cabin fever is a LEGITIMATE thing – so you’ll want to try and avoid it before it gets you in its throes.

If you’re lucky enough to have a balcony or a garden, it’s definitely advisable that you try and get out and soak up some sunshine on your breaks. 

However, even if you don’t have that, there’s nothing wrong with taking a walk when you can.

Provided you maintain a healthy 2m distance from others and limit your touching of random surfaces you should be good. A common-sense approach is recommended here.

Finally, make sure to keep in contact with friends and family outside of your working hours and on your breaks. 

Again, this will help keep your spirits lifted and help you stay motivated. The last thing you want is to be feeling blue when you’re already in an environment that’s more difficult to keep yourself motivated in.

Got any tips of your own? We’d love to hear them – so make sure to share them with us on our Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter channels.

Stay productive. Stay positive. Stay safe.

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