How have you been managing to feel connected while working from home? Check out some useful tips from some of our remote work experts.
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Social distancing might have taken over headlines but, for Amplexor, remote work is not new. As experts in successful virtual work, our teams believe “physical distancing” doesn’t equal “social distancing”, and know all about staying close while being apart!
At Amplexor, virtual lunches and online happy hours rapidly filled the breaks of our work @home routines. And when people across the world look for creative ways to fight isolation, we believe this is a great time to share some of our tips with you.
1. Be the driver of your schedule
I don´t like the word “remote”, it sounds like we´re far away from our work, and we´re not. Luckily, we’re working in a very privileged industry where everything we need is the support of connectivity tools.
It all depends on the individual situation, but good self-management is key when working from home. Be the driver of your schedule and agenda and avoid jumping from one meeting to another - I always plan my online meetings for 25 or 50 minutes instead of 30 or 60 minutes to ensure breaks in between. Dress yourself in a way that you could go to the office and use video calls as often as possible (communication is much more than the spoken word). Take care of your social contacts: include coffee/tea breaks every 1,5 to 2 hours, schedule calls for joined lunches or a glass of wine in the evening.
Marc Haarmeier, Professional Services Director, Germany. Working with remote teams for more than 20 years and working from home for the last 17 years.
2. Have a musical background and chef children
The most effective solution for me is to use a (comfortable) headset and have a musical background blurring everything that's happening around me. I use instrumental playlists such as Jean-Michel Jarre or old standards that I know so well that I don't even listen to the lyrics. The idea is to create an isolated area in which I can concentrate and this works pretty well.
My spouse is working remotely as well, which, at the moment, means in the same room. Most of his job seems to consist in handling videoconferences with many (really many) people, teams, bosses, etc., all day long. We installed our desktops in the main room of the house, sharing it with two adult children who kindly cook for us all (and this implies quite a lot of passing through).
Sophie Dinh, external translator, France. Freelance medical translator working remotely since 1998
3. Define hard start and stop times for each day
When I’m working, I’m surrounded by only work-related items in my office area, completely limiting any external distractions. I never allow silence. In between daily meetings, I have music playing non-stop (and loud). Then, at the end of the workday, I almost always go for an outdoor run to exert some energy and define a hard transition between work time and personal time.
The battle against social isolation is quite real and particularly hard these days. Before social distancing became commonplace, I would spend evening hours volunteering in the local design community and going to meet-ups. While those interactions are definitely limited these days, I’ve found myself doing a lot more running!
TJ Besaw, Creative Director, Portland, USA. Living in pajamas for over 4 years now.
4. Comfort vs. work areas
Mentally mark out an area in which you work, and don’t take work out of that area. For example, I’m working in my dining area and study room and I don’t bring my laptop and calls into my bedroom, sofa or even the bathroom 😊. Comfort vs work. Know where to stress and where to relax.
Having constant communication keeps our sanity in check. I have regular calls with clients and internal teammates to discuss work or even just catching up, this helps a lot. Or even just hearing other peoples’ voices, is very comforting.
Kian Wee, Strategic Account Manager, Singapore. Working from home for 3 months and it feels good!
5. Exercise, exercise and exercise!!
It’s important to set up a workspace separate from the living area and to declutter 😊. What helps me balance work and my personal life is to create a To-Do list and stick to usual office hours.
Exercise, exercise and exercise!! In order for you to boost productivity and manage stress exercising regularly is key. To help with isolation and balancing my daily tasks, I have asked my family for their support (house chores, quiet time, etc.).
Tomoko Fujita, Senior Japanese in-House Translator, Japan. Working from home for a month, a big adjustment for me J
6. Staying positive and optimistic
I motivate myself to be disciplined and concentrated during my working day and teach myself to know when to stop in the evening (!). Morning Skype Video calls empower me to be disciplined in the morning, meaning I prepare myself and the room I’m working in 😉. My magic formula for dealing with isolation has been staying focused and productive, keeping work and personal life balanced. Helping others, e.g., shopping for my parents and going for a walk in nature with them and helping my nephew, digitally, with his school work and exam preparation.
I am participating actively (!) in sports podcasts in the morning, not as regularly as in our video call, I must admit 😉, and long walks in nature, always with only one or two friends. I also chat with a lot of friends on the phone in the evening and weekends.
Preparing daily good and healthy food, which I usually don’t do when I work on premise (65 km distance, nearly 2 hours spent in the car during normal working days).
And finally, I’m staying positive and optimistic – life happens now, not yesterday and not tomorrow.
Anne Lux, Sr. Business Development Director, Luxembourg. Working remotely now for nearly 5 weeks.
7. Proper ergonomics and… hydration!
For "home office environment preparation" , I recommend some small tips, avoid having your knees above your pelvis, use a separate keyboard, use blue light cut glasses, keep your wrist and neck very warm, keep your ankles warm, warm drinks, keep away from excessive sugar intake, and most important hydration is crucial!!! Another recommendation, in winter use layered style clothing to keep you warm during sit down work.
It’s a good idea to save some time to isolate yourself from work and learn, think or just concentrate on yourself, preferably in a regular time window, if client and work allows it. Currently my work assigned from Amplexor enables this regular time window formula which is helping greatly.
Chie Inuzuka, external translator, Japan. Working remotely since 2009
8. Keep a routine
My formula is to try to keep a routine as much as possible, have daily calls with my team and continue having skype meetings with other colleagues, most of the time with the camera “on” now. I also try to start the day with a bit of exercise practiced outside before starting my work and try not to disconnect too late to keep a healthy rhythm.
Emma Biberson, Legal Officer, Quality Risk & Compliance, Portugal. I’ve been working from home for one month now.
9. Buddy system and reliable equipment
One of the collaborative projects I work on is translating adverse event reports as they are created, in real time, and for this project an email buddy system has been created, where we can post terminology questions and exchange suggestions and feedback. It works really well, with an almost instant response.
What helps with staying focused is having reliable equipment – my MacBook is now coming up for five years old, and still as fast and rock solid as ever – no downtime for updates, no crashes, although I am probably tempting fate here! Taking time to decompress and spend some time in nature helps me to stay upbeat.
Jane Ellis, external translator, Texas, USA. I have been working remotely from my home for the past eight years
About the author
Inês Pimentel is Senior Content Marketing Manager at Amplexor, based in Lisbon. With broad experience in marketing and communication in tech, service and non-profit contexts, Inês joined Amplexor marketing team in 2016. She's certified in Inbound, Email and Content Marketing.