2020 was a tough year for everyone, it went by really fast yet so slow at the same time. Companies had to adapt and employees got to spend more time at home while hitting the ground running. For many employees managing work and life was simple but since working at home, anxiety and confusion has escalated. The reason for this is due to going from interacting with colleagues daily to working in total isolation which results in a high reliance on laptops and smartphones to stay connected. However, this higher reliance is associated with a higher stress level. But for many, working from home was no different as they have been doing it for pre-pandemic, such as the CleverClicks Team. 

Before COVID-19 struck hard and fast, the CleverClicks team spent half the week working at the office and the other half from the luxury of anywhere in the world. Every morning we have a status meeting as it allows each team member to discuss the tasks they aim to achieve during the day and what assistance they may need. Additionally, it maximises efficiency when working on tasks that require input from the group. From there we would go about our merry way. This did not change when lockdown started as we were already used to working half the week remotely. 

Considering employees have been working remote for over a year, we can assume that we have mastered the art of remote working. It takes a lot of self-discipline in many different elements to master working remotely. These elements comprise a daily routine, office setup and distractions.

1. Daily Routine 

We all had a specific routine pre-pandemic whether it was going to the gym before work or fetching the laundry before heading home. Now that remote working is here to stay, routine is extremely important. A lack of routine results in a lack of productivity on everything because the brain is in reactive mode. 

As a team we have status every morning at 9:00 AM, that way everyone is fresh and ready to start the day. Following status we have a two hour time slot dedicated to “dark time”. This is a period of time where team members can get on with their task of the day uninterrupted by calls, email or meetings unless it is of extreme importance. 

Since being remote we have included regular meetings which would mimic the watercooler chat if we were in the office – we call this Wednesday trivia! Each week a new team member is in charge of coming to the meeting with fun and interesting questions to challenge the rest of the team. It is a good catch up session and a relaxing way to end the mid-week blues. 

I wake up between 5:00 am and 5:30 am, take Peanut [her dog] out for a walk. I start work at around 8:00 am by looking at everyone’s plans, then prepare for status and organise my tasks for the day. I work until about 6:00 pm

– CleverClicker Lara when asked about her routine

Implementing a routine into remote working assists in having a work-life balance. As Lara mentioned, she walks her dog first thing in the morning, this allows her to clear her mind and start work feeling fresh. The endorphins we get from going outside for a walk or a run is similar to going to the gym before work in the morning. During the pandemic, people have learnt to find alternatives, and while Lara and Peanut are not hitting the weights they are enjoying the morning strolls of fresh air. 

2. Office set up 

For many who began remote working in a rush, the couch became the best office. If the TV is off and you can sit on a decent chair without turning your spin into the shape of macaroni, then it is not too bad – but in most cases it’s bad. 

Employees working remotely are encouraged to find a quiet spot in the house to set up a little office that consists of a good chair with lumbar support (whatever that is), a decent-sized table and spice it up a little with cute desk accessories. Each person is different and the CleverClicks team had the opportunity to show off their remote areas. Some preferred a closed room with minimal distractions while others preferred staring out the window and counting the monkeys as they walked by (yes, that has happened to me).

CleverClicker Nadia’s desk set-up

Monkeying around

3. Distractions 

Working from home brings about a whole bunch of distractions from kids cartoons, fluffy pets, and dishes – oohh dishes! There is no full proof plan on how to not get distracted, we are only human after all. Living in a world where technology is our main source of communication and entertainment all in one we are prone to reach our devices, check our slack messages or reply to that one email. It is best to create safeguards to ensure you are not tempted by technology. 

We embrace dark time, and each member really appreciates this time as it allows us to get the most important task out of the way first thing in the morning. We will mute our slack messages and only accept meetings after dark time. Dealing with home distractions is another challenge on its own. Informing your family of dark time will allow you to truly get your most important work out of the way. Rhys, head of PPC, has trouble with his cats distracting him. His advice is “ I push the cat off the table.” Is it really that simple to avoid distractions?

Another thing to consider is your body as some people work better at 4:30 AM while others are night owls. Eliminating distractions ultimately comes down to knowing when your body can no longer focus.

Being engaged is very important, but taking time to decompress can help you make your time online more valuable.

Colin Doherty, the CEO of Fuze

At the end of the day, working from home requires huge amounts of self-discipline. Here are a few words of wisdom from the CleverClicks team on how you can best handle working remotely. 

Stay mindful of your mental health and how isolation could be creeping up on you, get fresh air, get up every hour or whatever works for you.

– CleverClicker Nicole

Create a routine. Expect non-work-related issues to creep in at some point especially if you live with the older generations. haha. Have a dog and or a cat – they are pretty good listeners and they have their own routine which also helps remind you to stand up and stretch your legs.

– CleverClicker Precious

Plan and structure your day and ensure that once work is done – turn yourself off and focus on hobbies and upskilling. 

– CleverClicker Jason

Always pay your internet bill on time. Find a way to manage incoming messages and requests – it’s hard.

– CleverClicker Phil

Working from home requires incredible self-discipline especially if there are many other distractions that may affect your productivity. The perfect routine exists, we just need to find it but if we could assume a perfect routine it would probably look like this:

Made with Canva

A good routine is only the tip of the iceberg. Evaluate your office set up with a few questions:

  • Is there enough natural light?
  • Are there distractions around me?
  • Do I have a good chair and desk?
  • Are there enough plug points around?
  • Is the internet connection good?

This article provides a basic guideline of how to make working from home work for you, but let’s face it, we should have all mastered it by now after doing it for a year. It is a challenging time but it is a time you realise what you are truly capable of. Finding a balance is important and with a good routine and self discipline it can be achieved. Keep this quote in mind as you go about remote working:

A disciplined mind leads to happiness, and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering.

– Dalai Lama
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