10 tips on working from home (WFH) from the Mono Team

In the past week, many of us have been asked to work from home (WFH) and practice social distancing as an effort against covid-19 (corona) virus. While many of us WFH from time-to-time - doing it full-time can seem daunting when you are used to working in an office full of wonderful colleagues. Last week, the entire Mono team transitioned to WFH and we asked everyone to chip in with their best tips for effectively and successfully WFH during this COVID-19 outbreak:

#1 Use video chat
In this time of self isolation, video chat is a great way to more naturally engage with your colleagues. Video makes it easier to understand people in a conversation as their facial expressions, hand gestures and body language provide subconscious cues on what they are trying to communicate. It may seem weird at first - but give it a try! 

#2 Update your status
When working from home, you might have a different routine than at the office. Keep your peers updated on your current work status via your internal communication platform (for example, we update our status on Slack at Mono) and give your colleagues an indication of what you are doing, for example: In a meeting, Focused, Eating lunch, etc.

#3 Use emojis to convey emotion
Instant messaging and chat is a great way to quickly convey information, but over a long period of time (like when in quarantine!) - those words on a screen can seem demotivating, harsh or even rude. Add context to your words by adding emojis to help express your emotions: “I’m busy right now :) I’ll look at it later”, comes across as nicer than “I’m busy right now. I’ll look at it later”. 

#4 Work in shared documents 
Working remotely can be tough when you’re used to working collaboratively with your colleagues. A good piece of advice is to use shared documents, like Confluence or One Drive, that allows others to participate in your work and easily give feedback and discuss. Not only does this simulate collaboration, but might help you establish new processes for the future. 

#5 Try the Pomodoro Technique
One of our DevOps Engineers (shout out to Stefanos!) suggested this technique. The Pomodoro technique helps you focus on one task for 25 minutes before taking a short break. And repeat! Remember, short breaks are important to keep your mind refreshed and motivated.

#6 Host a daily check-in with your team
While you may all have your own designated tasks and roles, daily contact with your team members is important to continuously synchronize your efforts, share ideas and collaborate even though you’re not physically together. Booking a 15-minute check-in either at the start or end of the day can make all the difference in making sure you’re all on the same page - while working remotely. 

#7 Set up a dedicated workspace
For many of us working from home can seem like an infringement on our personal space at home - that we typically associate with relaxing after work. Try setting up a dedicated work corner, and avoid sitting and working in places where you normally relax (e.g. your couch!). At the end of the day, physically remove yourself from your workspace (for example by going for a walk - if permitted, or alternatively open your windows to get fresh air) to signal the end of the day.  

#8 Share with your colleagues if you find WFH difficult 
Many experts have pointed out that WFH, especially in combination with social distancing, may take a toll on our mental health. Reach out to your colleagues, your manager or your human resources for support - if you’re struggling to adjust. Being open about your struggles is the first step to making the situation better!

Also as a manager, remember to tell your employees that it’s OK to take time for yourself when working from home. Creating a sense of trust, flexibility and compassion within your organization is key as many struggle with the new reality of having kids at home - while working full-time, as well as being lonely and isolated from friends and family. 

#9 Take inspiration from others
There are many of us working from home - and Mono is not the only one sharing tips on how to work from home. Do a quick Google search and take inspiration from how others are making the best of this “new normal” of WFH full time. Here’s a few articles to get you started: 

#10 Remember, it’s only temporary
And last but not least - remember that this situation is only temporary. We don’t yet know how long we’ll all be required to work from home - but try to think about all the positives of WFH that you’ll miss when you’re back in the office: No commute. No traffic. You can wear sweatpants. Just to name a few! Until then - happy WFH and stay safe.

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