It can be distracting to work from home, but it’s another challenge entirely to shelter in place, socially isolate, and self-quarantine through a pandemic. The recent developments with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and subsequent decisive actions taken by governments and organizations around the world have challenged us as a population in many ways.
As the news gets more troubling, it becomes all the more necessary to create community and connect as humans however we can. One way to do that is through comparing shared experiences—even if, in some cases, they’re really more like shared headaches.
Here is what we’ve learned about working remotely since we, as a company, pledged to #staythefhome:
- Creativity for makeshift workstations is at its peak.
- If you have a partner or roommate who is also working from home (WFH), things might get ugly.
- For those with a child screaming mid-Zoom meeting—you are the real MVP.
- Yes, the kitchen cabinet (and the Girl Scout cookies inside) really is calling your name.
- Daydreams of a sunny day on a terrace with friends have never been so appealing, but don’t give in!
- Procrastination-coffee brewing and needless snacking are very real threats.
- So are memes, online shopping, and binge-reading anxiety-inducing articles.
Although we are a software company, even the team at SurveyMonkey is not immune to the challenges sparked by this new style of work. Like many of you, we have offices around the world, which means that our employees face various types of geographical and personal challenges.
During this unusual time, it’s important to remember that we’re in this together. We asked our employees for their tips on staying resilient. Here are a few good ones to help inspire you and keep you feeling balanced, healthy, and productive.
Communication technology is your friend.
When your world sphere is limited to nothing but the white walls of your house and, if you’re lucky, a nearby grocery store for essentials, it’s not unusual to fall into a bit of a slump. One way to beat back the inertia is to stay connected to your colleagues with tools that you know and love. Maybe it’s Slack, Asana, or simply old school email.
Whenever possible, try to see some familiar faces. Video conferencing technology can remove the barrier of “remoteness” from your day-to-day work. Make as much as you can business as usual, although a spontaneous game of Heads Up! might be just what you need. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
For us at SurveyMonkey, Zoom is our jam. For many video calls, the sky's the limit. Were you supposed to have a big team meeting? Why not squeeze 65 sales reps into a call for virtual training? Trust us, it can be done.
Video calls also add another positive aspect to working from home: lightness and intimacy! Don’t underestimate the power of a toddler to turn an otherwise dreary-looking virtual meeting room into a screen full of smiles.
It’s the little things.
“I'm glad I work at a company where I can have a meeting with a child dressed as a unicorn on my lap, since preschool is closed due to the coronavirus.”Daniel Gleason, Cloud Engineering at SurveyMonkey
Cats are also welcome.
Keep in mind, you can also keep things fun with custom video backgrounds and other edits. They’re great for blurring out your cooking roommate or bedrooms in disarray.
For leadership, be transparent and communicate.
In times of uncertainty, it’s natural to turn to leadership to serve as a guiding light. They’re needed now more than ever. Given the global scale of the situation, even the advice of local governments might feel disconnected from your unique situation. That’s where executives and other business leaders have a chance to make a difference.
“We are all concerned and share your uncertainty. We are in this together and as a company and leadership team, we are here to support you.”Becky Cantieri, Chief People Officer, SurveyMonkey
At SurveyMonkey, we are blessed with leadership that cares deeply about our well-being. In addition to extensive internal communications, our CEO Zander Lurie wrote an article addressing customers and employees on the ongoing situation and what to expect.
On top of that, our CMO Leela Srinivasan stepped in to show that it pays to be personal. She posted a candid video of herself at home to kick off Day 1 of everyone working remotely and instill morale for the weeks to come, featuring Superman.
To start Day 2, our CEO recorded his update, again with full transparency and words of encouragement.
If you’re in the position to help your team do the same, we highly encourage it. Our execs have moved mountains to ensure we feel heard and assisted in this troubling time, and it has helped. It pays off to care.
Avoid the panic amplifiers.
Social media, and the media at large, has a time and place. While we champion the use of social channels to connect, learn, and grow, sometimes a constant flow of information is too much!
Use social to video chat with friends and family, but be wary about giving in to the hyper-coverage of the pandemic. Your sanity will thank you.
Instead...find healthy distractions.
To start your day, avoid opening your laptop first thing, especially if it’s your work laptop. Take the time to properly wake up, so you’re energized for the long haul. Beginning with a dose of exercise, however brief, does wonders for your mood and body. Plenty of studios are streaming yoga classes, not to mention the fitness channels on YouTube and offerings from now-virtual gyms.
The importance of creating a healthy routine has never been so relevant. Make sure you shower, dress the part and prepare a healthy breakfast for yourself as you would any other weekday. It’s all about the mindset.
If all else fails, enjoy this photo, courtesy of our social media guru, Melissa Francois. Or better yet—cuddle up with your own furry friend.
Check in with yourself and your colleagues, often.
Supporting each other during this time is critical for success. Understand that working environments may not be optimal across the board. With multiple people in a household working from home, kids running around, and potentially a mismatched desk and technology situation, flexibility is your only option.
Can you spot the bathroom call below? Guilty.
Our Amsterdam office set up a “virtual coffee room” meeting where anyone is free to drop in and chat throughout the day. The Marketing team also schedules daily 10 a.m. check-ins to chat. Without the option for a physical water cooler and daily chatter with coworkers, it’s essential to keep your spirits up. Connecting virtually with those who sometimes know you best is a great way to do so!
Take breaks to disconnect.
Open the window or step into the sun; the power of fresh air should not be forgotten. In times where nothing—even work—is drawing you out of your hermit hole, taking breaks for outdoor time is vital for health.
While the option to grab a coffee down the block might not exactly be on the table, there is still plenty of fresh air for the taking. Stroll around to see the world is still operating, however quieter.
Find what helps you focus, but don’t beat yourself up when you lose it.
Take it from our CMO Leela Srinivasan:
Also, classical music playlists are underrated as a tool for focus. Here’s our favorite. And if you're missing that background noise from the office, try white noise.
Be there for your peers.
Not unsurprisingly, a decent portion of SurveyMonkey employees were already full-time remote, which meant that we had plenty of knowledge sharing going into this new chapter. Our colleagues even shared a tips and tricks video to help the newbies adjust.
We’ve also set up designated Slack channels like #wfh-tips and #wfh-eats to spread the word on how we’re making WFH work for us.
They’re not without a few Julia Child moments.
Our Slack channels showcase the power of community in times like these. It doesn’t hurt to laugh at #dadjokes every once in awhile.
Another way to be present for your colleagues is to share a picture of your working space. These visualizations help build the feeling of togetherness and connect the dots of where calls are made and projects executed.
If you’re new to a company during this time—stay strong! At SurveyMonkey, we’re doing our best to take virtual onboarding seriously. With 30 new employees this week, their calendars are packed with meetings around our company mission and values as well as an introduction to leaders across the org, including our CEO.
Find free resources and share away.
Your inbox is likely filled with letters from CEOs of companies you didn’t even know you were subscribed to. And believe it or not, some are better than others. In addition to refunds for cancelled trips, as well as news, and updates in light of COVID-19, some organizations are offering resources and tools for free.
We’re here to help.
Feel free to share the goodwill and your own challenges and tips by tagging us on social!
Spread cool initiatives, not germs.
- SurveyMonkey Team