In the midst of a global pandemic, your day-to-day work duties might be the last thing on your mind. And with more and more companies closing their offices and moving online in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, working from home can make concentrating that much harder. Sound familiar? We hear you, and we want to do what we can to help. Like most teams, Job Portraits is learning to cope with a lot of "new normals," but because we've been a distributed team for a few years now, we do have experience working remotely—and supporting each other during these uncertain times.
Today's letter is from Olivia Haas, one of our formidable creative leads and Job Portraits' video producer. She adapted a recent Facebook post to create this list of learnings from her years working from home.
In light of the growing number of work-from-home mandates to help combat COVID-19, I thought I'd share some habits I've developed since Job Portraits became an entirely remote team in mid-2018. Of course, my daily needs are infinitely simpler than those of a parent or caretaker, so please consider this a scratching of the proverbial surface. If you're a parent who could use some tips, get in touch with our co-founders, Miki and Jackson, who work from home with a toddler!
I try to have a morning routine, but when I think extra sleep will help my overall health: I SLEEP IN. Most of the Job Portraits team prefers early mornings. I do not. And that's okay.
Some people get fully "dressed for work" when working from home. You go, those people. I, however, have perfected the "good enough for a video screen; nobody can see the bottom half of my body" look (which helps cut down on laundry, too). Mostly, I suggest wearing whatever makes you comfortable.
I block off time on my calendar to get heads-down things done—and I treat it like a meeting I need to show up to. Then, I do my damndest to stay off social media. If, like me, you have limited social media self-control, I recommend logging out of your accounts entirely.
Hydration! It's easy to forget to drink water when I'm not hustling around an office. I try to make sure I'm getting plenty of H2O (always, but especially right now).
I like to get outside every day, even just for a short walk between video calls. Right now, this is allowed if you're in an area with a "shelter in place" mandate—just maintain the required distance from others (six feet). I also sometimes take phone meetings while walking around the block or pacing around my apartment.
To transition out of my "workday brain," I usually attempt some living room yoga. There are lots of free tutorials and guided flows on YouTube. And ClassPass members: Did you know you get free access to ClassPass Go? When I really need to leave a stressful day behind, I put on my dance playlist and move. It can feel ridiculous at first, but is ultimately rejuvenating.
In general, I try to pay attention to how my body is feeling and respond accordingly. When I first started working from home, I had back pain because I wasn't set up ergonomically. If a solid setup isn't possible for you right now, at least make sure you're adjusting your position and doing gentle neck, back, and wrist movements—like you would on a long flight.
Some benefits of not being in an office I've come to appreciate: I can shower and/or meditate during the day. This is especially helpful if I need to shift gears or rest my eyes after lots of screen time. (Headspace has tons of meditations under five minutes, and both they and Ten Percent Happier are offering free resources right now.)
Of course, a successful WFH culture also means supporting each other. One of the many ways we do this at Job Portraits is by fostering meaningful emotional connections between all team members—whether we're based in San Francisco, Denver, or Kuala Lumpur. If you're a manager, consider creating moments for your team to share how they're feeling—we like to start meetings with "three things I'm feeling right now." You don't have to try to solve anything, just make space for emotions. If you're not in a leadership position but have a good relationship with your manager, consider suggesting a similar practice. By encouraging and practicing vulnerability, we can create emotional safety.
In this time of great uncertainty, give your team and teammates the gift of knowing it's okay to express our Big Feels about Big Things (and little things, too).
And keep washing your hands.
- Olivia Haas, Creative Lead and Video Producer
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That's all from me! I hope you have a wonderful WFH Thursday. Drink water, wash your hands, and stay safe this weekend.