The world has been hit by the largest pandemic we’ve seen in our generation. We’re still only at the beginning and it’s going to get tougher.
Sorry, this post does lighten up…keep reading. 👇
The epicentre of Coronavirus (COVID-19) started in Wuhan, China and within only a couple of months it has spread on a global scale. Although the death rates are generally low, the veracity of community transmission is the greater concern.
Consequently it has put immense pressure on our ecosystems. It’s also a challenging time for businesses, families, individuals and our economy. However, as humans we are survivors and as a community we can get through this.
Whilst our efforts to contain and delay may have slowed the spread of the disease, following recent government updates and advice, many offices are forced to close their doors. Schools will inevitably follow, pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants are all no go zones and co-working spaces are now determined as a ‘health hazard.
Because of this, many of us are now faced with an even greater fear…Working From Home! 😱
We’ll all need to adjust as our usual routines are thrown out the window, that can be a challenge for many.
Fortunately here at Insightful UX we’re pretty good at adapting quickly and working remotely, in fact most of our UX research is conducted remotely and the team are regularly on the road collaborating.
So, in this Covid-19 Survival Guide I’ll try and provide you with some practical tips on how best to work efficiently and comfortably at home whilst we as a nation pull through these challenging days and like Chuck Norris, we Kick Covids Butt. #ChuckVsCovid
If you find this guide useful please do also share with your colleagues and peers 🙏
It’s all too easy to allow routine to slip away along with structure and organisation. Especially when you’re in isolation and no one else is around to judge you whilst sat in your Pjyamas and slippers eating crabsticks at 9am for breakfast. Who even does that?
I personally find that getting out of bed early, getting dressed, having breakfast, having a strong coffee and doing all the usual things I would do before leaving to go to the office all still apply. More importantly it provides a distinction between home and work.
The bonus of course is now I don’t have an hour commute so technically I can start earlier. Great! Although 9 times out of 10 I still carry on until late into the evening 🤪
Discipline doesn’t mean solid working all day, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Discipline is about;
- Getting up, getting ready and planning your day
- Taking regular breaks throughout the day
- Drinking plenty of water
- Having a regular lunch break away from the laptop or phone
- Getting fresh air – maybe keep a window open
- Get a decent coffee machine to refuel
- Change your scenery, move about, go for a walk so there’s some variety in your day
- Use your phone to talk to people, don’t rely on email
Finally, have some good background music. Here’s a couple of our team Spotify playlists to follow:
For some chill vibes, Insightful UX Workspace.
Or for something more upbeat, Marketing Bangers 🤘
Discipline is about following routine and not allowing bad habits to get in the way. Discipline feeds into many of the following areas.
We’re lucky these days that there is so much readily available technology. As per George Beverley’s recent post ‘The Window Into Your Customers’ highlighted, technology can be our friend when conducting our day to day business. It’s critical to how we operate ours.
Here’s just a few tools that you may find useful:
- Zoom – Video conferencing made easy. Great to liaise with clients and prospects, deliver webinars, host meetings and its free to sign up. Give it a whirl.
- Slack – Perfect for reducing your email clutter and liaising with your teams, colleagues and clients. Keeps conversations centralised and syncs with Google and other tools.
- Asana – Project management made simple. Keep all your projects updated, create Kanban boards and document everything in a central place. Should the worst happen and a team member get sick, all their notes and updates are kept central and secure
- WhatsApp for Desktop – Similar to Slack but free, great for chat and keeping the banter going with your peers but not as useful as Slack for project collaboration.
- Google Docs – Create, write and share documents digitally, no problem! Like word, some say better.
- Your smart phone – Remember that tool you keep in your pocket and pay an extortionate monthly premium for? Well it can make phone calls too! When communication is essential the phone is revolutionary.
Whilst working from home can present technical challenges there is also the consideration around how data is handled whilst at home. For example, how the data is handled via staff at home? Who else is able to see or access that data? How the data is accessed i.e. via personal devices and where the data is stored?
Mark Gracey GDPR has provided an excellent CoronaVirus and GDPR information sheet to help mitigate and manage GDPR concerns whilst individuals are working from home.
4. Mental Health
It’s a given that for many working from home, in isolation is a scary prospect. Which is why your mental health is important to be aware of. As humans we need other people around us, to talk, engage with, laugh and cry with.
There are clear links between cardiovascular function, blood pressure, stress and social isolation. Whilst a few weeks may not have long term impact it can be tough having to re-adjust to new routines so quickly, especially if we’re not used to working alone.
The key here is to talk to others. Whether it’s friends, colleagues, partners or neighbours. We’re all in this as a community and communication binds us all together.
When it comes to mental health, technology unfortunately isn’t a perfect substitute, however it can help people engage with each other. Nothing beats face to face communication and so i’d advocate regular video calls with clients and your peers. As above, checkout Zoom or Skype.
As a team we do a daily morning video call to update on projects and discuss any blockers we may have. Throughout the day we also do video calls to discuss and collaborate on client work, it’s so much more effective and can be done via Slack, Zoom or WhatsApp.
For more information about dealing with stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 crisis checkout this article by the Centre For Disease Control and Infection.
5. Physical Health
It goes without saying that in addition to mental health, your physical health is equally as important and will play a role in physiological effects.
This ties in with discipline. As you won’t be travelling to work it’s important to find time, perhaps use your commuting time, to do some physical exercise – get the blood flowing and stimulate muscles.
It’s too quick and easy to slip into bad habits. Humans are meant to move, not be confined in small dark rooms. Get up, get out, get moving! Even to have a break from the laptop, it’s worth it and there are lots of studies around how it can boost productivity.
6. Flexibility and patience
As this crisis progresses there will be a call for flexibility, not just from employees and employers but also within families.
As of Friday 20th March ALL schools in the UK will close and with grandparents and childcare facilities either in isolation or being locked down, it will be down to parents to care for the kids whilst maintaining their day jobs. This could become very stressful for many parents across the country.
This will require flexibility and perhaps childcare sharing between parents, working in the evenings whilst the kids are asleep and finding ways to keep them entertained when they’re bouncing off the walls during that conference call with the CEO.
Just remember, everyone is in the same boat. If emails don’t get responded to as quickly as they may usually or phone calls get missed. It’s likely individuals are juggling lots of things let alone changing nappies and entertaining the kids.
If your child wants to help with your webinar, let them. Embrace it and try not to stress about it.
However, having structure and finding a routine will quickly help alleviate some of the anxiety around ‘what to do with the kids?’. This 30 day lego challenge could be useful starting point.
More useful advice and ideas on what to do with kids in isolation can be found on the Working Mums website.
In summary, stay calm, remain flexible and just remember – we’re all in this together.
7. Nutrition and Hydration
Similar to having discipline it’s all too easy to slip into bad habits and binge eat, get takeaways and quick snacks. Don’t!
Maintaining a good diet is a must to keep the brain alert and hydrated. We could be in for a long haul of remote working so maintaining a decent diet with good nutrition is vital.
If in doubt, speak to a nutritionist or there’s plenty of online sources or even pre-made meal plans which get posted to your door with all the ingredients required through providers such as HelloFresh.
This disease spreads quickly and maintaining hygiene through washing hands regularly with soap for 20 seconds before and after touching surfaces is vital. If you can get into a habit it becomes far easier, certainly if and when you are out and about.
Taking a shower can help detox and rest muscles that may be tight from working in a cramped room for hours.
I think out of this list, humour is one of the most important. Without it I know i’d go mad! So whilst it’s a difficult situation for many, try to find the humour in it, even when things don’t quite go so well.
“Humour keeps us human”.
I find memes usually do the trick. Also Anthony Mintos weekly animations are well worth following:
And finally, on a serious note. We will get through this by maintaining and engaging with our local communities.
It’s encouraging to see so many people across the globe, including Italy, Spain and even the epicentre of this thing, Wuhan. People engaging, helping, supporting each other as a community.
This may even mean doing some free work for others such as struggling businesses, friends or relatives.
There is scientific evidence that helping others can also improve happiness, so at a time when we all need a bit of happy in our lives let’s make sure we’re doing our bit to help.
Here’s a great example of local gin craft company, Conker Gin who have used their waste heads to create their own ‘hand sanitiser’ and gifting to businesses who need it most.
Although the word ‘isolation’ sounds lonely it doesn’t mean we have to be alone. In fact by working together we WILL beat this.
I’ll now finish this post with a video from Jialan Chai in Wuhan who describes what life is like and how the community has come together to support each other.
Thanks for reading. Stay healthy, stay safe. 👍
Update: Here’s my working from home setup.