The image above shows a group of EasyEquities team mates in their work-from-home environments
Water restrictions. Load shedding. Corona lockdown. Junk status. We’ve really been smacked around lately, haven’t we? But we’re strong and resourceful. We’re creative. We have a sense of humour, a sense of duty and a sense of compassion. These attributes help us to stay safe, stay sane and look out for each other.
At CN&CO we’re fortunate to be part of a network of strong, resourceful, creative, humorous, dutiful, compassionate people who epitomise all that’s good about this nasty corona lockdown situation. Last night, for example, a group of 20 or so folk gathered online via Zoom for a TED Circles event (a sliver of participants is pictured on the right) to discuss power and the Corona virus. It was an interesting session, with participants from a variety of industries joining in from across the country to get the debating juices flowing.
event (a sliver of participants is pictured on the right) to discuss power and the Corona virus. It was an interesting session, with participants from a variety of industries joining in from across the country to get the debating juices flowing.
Although it was a fairly diverse group, the one thing we had in common was our privilege. We are the lucky ones who get to sit around on a Friday night during these unusual times, glass of wine in hand, and discuss the merits of power and the effects of this insidious virus that has us all confined to our homes.
Our fridges are full. Our electricity is connected. We have Wi-Fi, and devices to feed off it. We’re sorted – and we’re lucky. And that, ladies, gents and non-gender-specific-individuals, is the underlying caveat of this blog, and the key point to bear in mind as you read it. We’re the lucky ones, and this is how we’re dealing with it.
The connected economy is booming right now, with Zoom meetings, house party apps, online “drop-and-run” deliveries and video streaming services all doing a brisk trade. So far the infrastructure seems to be coping – bar one or two cases, which have resulted in some exquisite Twitter rants. That’s great news for all of us (except the Twitter ranters of course). But not all news is good. Here’s futurist Graeme Codrington, who posted this video some two weeks before shit started getting real in the R of SA…
Okay, now that we’ve set the scene, let’s take a look at some tips for survival for us lucky folk who have the luxury of being able to work from home:
Firstly, let’s hear from some of the CN&CO team:
- Have a routine and plan your day in blocks (I do 4 x 15 min breaks in between 1-2 hour work slots)
- Change into daytime clothing and follow your normal washing routines
- Set a switch-off time; what works is setting a goal activity for the end of your day, like doing exercise, watching a TV show, reading a book or catching a movie on Netflix
Firstly – it takes some time to get used to working from home. You have “all day” to do your work, yet most of us aren’t used to working for any extended period of time at home, day in and day out. So understand that you might have to be more disciplined than usual in life, and the best way to do that is to create and stick to a routine. Try and keep it as similar to your pre-lockdown routine so if you usually go to gym first thing in the morning, then shower and head to the office, do the same thing! Except, obviously you will be working out at home and then your office is probably about 10m away.
Secondly – in following a routine, try and stick to specific areas of your house that enable you to work. I have a desk at home that I work from, and generally nowhere else so when I sit down at my desk my brain knows its time to work. If I have my laptop in the lounge, I may dabble on something work related if need be but any serious work that needs to be done, I know it happens at the desk. This way you don’t end up blurring your leisure and work hours as sometimes it can feel like you never really did anything during the day yet you were always working.
Thirdly, don’t stop exercising. And if you weren’t big into it before, take the opportunity to get some in. It does wonders for your mind, not to mention your body.
As most folk know, I get cabin fever very, very quickly. I have been coping by putting together a small schedule and making sure I am not desk-bound for too long with regular breaks and legs stretches in between (morning jog or walk and afternoon walk around the complex).
I even put an hour a day aside, in two 30-minutes intervals, to keep Morgan (my girlfriend’s daughter) busy, whether it’s building a puzzle, playing card games or spending time outside in the garden.
My workspace is also in a bright and airy room, which makes a difference. Oh, and great coffee is essential!
Also read: How to work from home without losing your sanity
My biggest tips for success (not just during lockdown, but at all times) are ROUTINE and PLANNING. Everyone knows I love to break the rules and frameworks, but you must have them in place before you break them or it’ll just end in chaos!
Develop a routine. (There’s a pattern starting to show here.) Under normal circumstances I will exercise first thing in the morning – usually I’ll climb Lion’s Head or go for a run or a ride, then shower, make coffee in my garden and eat breakfast before I get started with the day. This gets me in a routine, gives me time to collect my thoughts and plan for the day ahead.
Take a break. If you have a garden, get out into fresh air. Otherwise do something different; this can be anything from washing some dishes or watering plants to doing a bit of exercise.
Lastly, stimulate your brain. Take time out to watch a TED Talk, listen to a podcast to video call friends. This will help keep us connect, inspire our minds and keep us thinking creatively.
Working remotely and from home has become a core part of my life over the last two-and-a-half years. Thanks to the internet, which continues to grow and innovate, remote work doesn’t mean that we are disconnected. It’s actually quite the opposite and allows you to take responsibility for how you spend your time, which has helped me to work smarter.
Being remote you learn to time block – blocking out key times in your diary for specific tasks, like writing and dedicating time for thinking. You develop rhythms around elements of work and this structure helps block out distractions. Time blocking has also allowed me to be honest with myself around how much head space I actually spend on tasks, which is an area of ongoing learning when you are a digital freelancer.
Also read: A letter to the UK from Italy: this is what we know about your future
Outside of time blocking, and if you are struggling to clear your head of current events, I suggest you try taking up meditation. It is something that has helped me tremendously and the Waking Up app provides the necessary mindset and tools to get you going.
So here’s to being physically distant, but socially connected. Let’s all play our part in combatting COVID-19.
And now for some input from people in our networks, starting with Jono Bruton of EasyEquities, Salty Hour and Dead Reckoning fame:
I personally have been working from home for over three years now and it definitely has many challenges both mentally and physically.
Here are my top four tips:
- The first few days / weeks of working remotely you will be super productive. It is still a novelty during the early days. After some time, bad habits may start to creep in. Waking up a bit later each morning, lying in bed with your laptop, binging on Netflix series while maintaining the façade of online presence lightly. Guard against these and be aware of your routine at all times.
- Daily goals are important. Set them the evening before and commit to scratching them off your list as complete the next day. The competition is against yourself, stay in it to win it!
- Eat properly. The fridge is right there but you will find your eating times will become erratic. No longer are you locked into the one-hour corporate lunch hour. Make sure to eat your breakfast at the same time every day and then again at lunchtime. This must be part of your routine.
- Exercise. Now that you are stuck at home you will be walking a lot less. Stats have shown that EasyEquities employees walk on average a distance of 6 km a day when in and out the office. These numbers will naturally go way down, and your cardio will suffer. Take 20 min to do exercise every day. There are plenty of apps for this that I have tried and tested. The NikePlus app is free and, in my opinion, is the best app for home exercise. Strong lungs mean strong fight against respiratory illness. VERY IMPORTANT.
Lola Mendes, EasyEquities:
As a mom working from home it’s all about being organised and creating a balance. Make sure you are organised with your home life and your kids. Appreciate and take advantage of the balance to stop working when you need to – but keep track of time because working from home you often lose track of time.
Also, a dedicated work area is very important.
Rogerio Ferreira, EasyEquities:
Stick to working hours or else you land up working more than you should. This is not good for your work-life balance.
Take regular breaks. (I wish I could follow this piece of advice more easily!).
Keep your Zoom open and minimized; stay in contact with team mates – even if it’s just for a quick “howzit”.
Carlos Fernandes, EasyEquities:
Institute strong rules around what you use your computer and mobile phone for between your working hours.
Avoid social media during your workday to keep you focused on your work. If you can’t be strict enough on yourself, and you have social media apps installed on your phone, turn off notifications or simply uninstall them.
Don’t keep your phone in front of you, but rather off to your non-dominant side. That way you’re less likely to be distracted.
Overall, the best piece of advice anyone can give during the lockdown – stay home!