Home office during Covid-19: 5 tips to bear in mind

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The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in many people working from home. So you might be wondering how you can remain productive at home. Here we share some tips for working remotely that will help you get your work done as well as maintain your mental well-being.

Home office during Covid-19 5 tips to bear in mind (2)

The Covid-19 pandemic took us all by surprise, so the migration to 100% remote work was done very quickly and without further planning. Although the culture of working remotely has had its adversaries in the corporate world and many companies have resisted its implementation, the reality is that the market in general — the software industry in particular — began to adopt this working practice a decade ago.

All those years have given us the possibility to iterate about good practices and have the knowledge to define the best strategies to use when working with a 100% remote team.

At Hexacta, the fact that we have ten development centers in different cities and countries, as well as several years of experience managing virtual teams, has allowed us to adapt our methodology and processes to this dynamic. This has led us today to be mature and technically stable enough to carry out the work in a completely remote and smooth way.

Content related: Best practices for working with remote teams during Covid-19

Based on this experience, I would say that success is found by focusing on the following premises:

1. Thinking (more) about communication

It is important to rethink the communication that is established when working in this modality. When day-to-day life and closeness to colleagues is in a certain way lost, communication becomes even more important as a fundamental element in the development process. Here is some advice.

  • Do not send Whatsapp voice notes. Try to avoid using this tool to work. In case you decide to use it, make sure the information you share is in text mode to make the tracking of the information that may be valuable easier.
  • Guarantee a tool that everyone can use easily. The increase in virtual communications in these times of pandemic is undoubtedly exponential. By moving almost all work activity into the virtual environment, tools for calling or video conferencing are essential. Make sure that all the team is using the same communication tool and that everyone can use it easily.

Home office during Covid19 5 tips to bear in mind

Source: Statista

  • Pay special attention to written communication. In times of Covid-19, everyone can be more sensitive, so pay attention to what and how things are said to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Ensure fluid communication. Since you are probably sharing your workspace with your family, let them know what you are doing at any given time. With your team, communicate when necessary so that your productivity is not affected.
  • Keep in touch, but do not overcommunicate. It is okay wanting (and needing) to be in frequent contact with the team; however, you have to know how to do it at the right time. There is no need to tell everything to everyone at all times. A great quality of Agile teams that work remotely is precisely how they optimize time, and that includes when and how much to communicate.
  • Try to be positive. Negative comments can be demoralizing for the team, particularly during this isolation period. Try to highlight good actions and generate conversations that are constructive and motivating.
  • Communicate your breaks so that the team respects them. Take a break for lunch or to rest a bit from routine, and always let the team know. This way, everyone knows about each other’s availability so this time off — equally valuable and key to being more productive — is not interrupted.

2. Working for objectives

The short-term objectives are going to help us to have a more fluid communication and high morale of the team. Supported by Agile methodologies such as Scrum, it is advised that the leaders follow these tips.

  • Define and involve the team in the definition of short and medium-term KPIs to evaluate how they are performing.
  • Take time to check the progress and deviations. This will allow you to generate a dynamic of communication that maintains a better team cohesion.

3. Set limits

Many times, the lack of limits and even a routine complicates the day in an unpredictable way. Working in the same space where you live can make your day difficult, so it is important to define some guidelines.

  • Try to keep your cell phone and TV away from your workspace as they will only be a distraction.
  • Ideally, assign a space to work in. A small room/office or a special place in the living room can work well. If you have the possibility to fit two different spaces together, much better because changing the environment will be positive.
  • Define a habit to start with and another one to end the day with and clearly set the time that your working day will last.
  • Dress as if you were going to the office and avoid working in your pajamas. Create the whole work environment. Believe it or not, it will influence how productive you are.

4. Plan your day

Not being able to leave the house seems to limit many other activities; however, if we do not organize ourselves properly, the day may pass and everything that needed to be done will not be done. Put into practice the following tips.

  • Make a To-Do list to clearly have in mind what to do during the day and keep track of what is being done.
  • Home office during Covid-19 5 tips to bear in mindThe discipline in accomplishing such organization of daily tasks is what helps you perform better (even if you were in the office).
  • If you have children and you have to live together with the home-schooling, define certain moments to deal with each of these issues, always taking into account the relevance of each one.
  • Define breaks throughout the working time. You can use the Pomodoro technique or create a reward system. Keep in mind that from time to time you have to stop in order to continue working.

5. Be more aware of your responsibility

One of the last tips to have an effective home office during Covid-19 has to do with being responsible and conscious of what we do.

This particular situation that we are living in today has generated a new paradigm that will surely change forever the way we work and do business. When you work at home, no one tells you what you have to or do not have to do. No one calls your attention if you are distracted, you are not forced to get out of bed, and even less, no one can control how many hours of Netflix you see per day. It is up to each of us to be responsible with family, occupations, work, and schedule.

Take a look at this reading: Get the best out of working with distributed software teams

Bonus track in this Covid-19 time

  • Call your friends and family and keep in touch. Unlike what we were used to, the phone ringing is a nice feeling in these tough times!
  • Do some kind of exercise every day to help you stay active and keep your mind clear. Look for any routine (yoga, stretching, cardio…anything is better than nothing).
  • Watching TV, especially the news, can be unhealthy. Distract your mind a little and keep up to date with those books, games, or trainings that you could not do before due to the lack of time.
  • Try to eat healthy, knowing there is a tomorrow (it is not that far away!)

Are you one of those who are doing home office during Covid-19? Do you have some other strategies that we can put into practice? Let us know!

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