A Unique WFH toolkit for the new normal
- 20 unique ways to brighten your work life in 2020 -
WFH has gained a new lease of life during this pandemic. While we cannot avoid the negative impact of these tough times on creativity, productivity and mental health; there are ways to take a pause, step back and look at things differently.
The workforce has endured a quarter of the year in stringent lockdown, working and whittling away at keyboards; as the isolation accompanied with the sudden upheaval in job markets, has taken a significant toll on our collective mindset.
In short, working from home in prolonged isolation has been an absolute drag - but we’re here to help! Read on for 20 novel ways, ideas and tools spread across key categories to brighten your work life in the new normal:
Fostering mental wellbeing
If there is anything the coronavirus pandemic has taught us, it is the precious fragility of the systems we live in. That realisation, however, definitely comes at a cost! With constant barrage of bad news and difficult circumstances, mental health & well-being in working communities is at an all-time-low. Add to that a challenging workload and regular EOD submissions - voila! You have the perfect recipe for a mental burnout!
Here are some ideas and tools to help you keep your mind calm and spirits high as the WFH saga continues:
1. We often underestimate the power of self-affirmation! Use a ‘Sticky Notes’ app on your desktop to leave yourself a kind word or a note of affirmation when you end your WFH day. Starting your day off reading these the next day is a powerful way to give yourself a mental and subconscious boost.
2. One of the good things about WFH is that you can simultaneously do things that you wouldn’t be able to do at the office - like skincare! Wear a relaxing face mask or follow your relaxing skincare routine as you go about your WFH activities during times when you do not have to be a part of video calls or zoom meetings. Bonus - you can also support a few vegan, cruelty-free and local beauty businesses along the way!
3. A power nap is called so for a good reason! Take a refreshing 30 minute or hour-long power nap on those WFH days that feel too long, too anxious or extra unproductive. Wake up, have a delicious cup of coffee or your favorite beverage & get-set-go!
4. Windows are a great solace. If you cannot work near one, make it a point to sit by one for a cup of coffee during a work break. Try not to think or scroll through social media - there is power in just meditating with your cup of joe and staring out the window.
5. Mood-tracking apps. How did your WFH day really go? Feeling your feelings is vital & identifying them through journaling, helps disassociate them from you and your perceptions of self. Track your moods and feelings, identify patterns and increase self-awareness with these amazing, easy to use apps throughout the day!
6. Set firm and vital boundaries. Have a set timetable for your working hours. If you live with family or friends, communicate the same to them as well. Use technology to its fullest potential when communicating indoors as well as with your colleagues virtually to avoid getting distracted by them as you go about your work tasks.
7. Know your own limits. WFH does not translate to working 24*7. Be clear about the duration of your working hours and a practical assessment of the tasks you can complete in that time period with your co-workers and superiors to avoid miscommunications and being overwhelmed.
Breaking through monotony
While WFH is a privilege in so many ways, it can also get monotonous and fester boredom. Breaking through this monotony with a few fun & spontaneous activities is the key to recharging your mind!
Here are some of our favourite things to do when breaking through WFH monotony:
1. The clacking of keyboards, hum of a bustling workplace and the chatter of colleagues is what makes an office environment click! Do you find yourself nostalgically thinking about the sounds of a full workplace? Check out the Sounds of Colleague playlist or Coffitivity to imitate the coziness of your office culture - be it a chilled out start-up, the low hum of a cafe or a buzzing corporate office!
2. Change-up your surroundings. Look for ways to make interesting WFH nooks around your home to give you some space to switch things up. You can rearrange decor & furniture items you already have or utilize more unused parts of your home to create an uplifting environment to work & relax in. Click here & here to watch fun IGTV videos on creating creative WFH corners around your home!
3. Boredom is a natural response in these types of situations and we’ve got just the thing to help you tackle it and make your WFH break more fun and engaging! All you need to do is click on this big, red bored button and a world of lighthearted fun, apps and games opens up.
4. Have a monthly vision board as your desktop wallpaper. Get fun and creative with your goals, your hopes and the changes you would like to make in your near future with a vision board that stays on your screen, uplifting your WFH day-to-day. It's fun and easy to make with apps like Pinterest and Canva.
5. Music, especially when tailored to your taste can do wonders for supercharging the mind and feeling more uplifted! Make your own work from home playlist - it's a fun activity that helps you discover and explore your taste in music. We love the Music-Map website for exploring genres as well as artists based on your interests.
Oh the battle with productivity in the WFH times! ‘To do or not to do’ dilemmas, the after-lunch slump, cooped-in anxiety, a constant flow of bad news and tone-deaf calls from endless hordes of pseudo-woke social media accounts and bloggers to be productive ALL the time; have had the contradictory effect of fostering a need to stand still without being pushed and a sentiment of being anti hustle culture in the working communities.
Here are some ways to embrace your unproductive feelings, and push through them to land on the more positive side of the WFH experience:
1. Pomodoro units technique. Well known for increasing attention span and concentration, the Pomodoro technique is a life-changing work hack, whether you are working remotely or otherwise! The methodology involves breaking up bigger tasks or ‘to-do’ lists into smaller ‘units’ that are further spaced out with regular breaks & intervals. Allowing the brain to train itself better in terms of time sensitive tasks, this one’s a true gem for boosting your productivity.
2. We must talk about the Forest app! This innovative app takes building the habit of staying focused to the next level by turning it into an engaging game. It lets you build your own virtual forest by planting a seed on the app and then staying away from your phone for the duration of your task. If you interrupt the set timing & use your phone for distractions, the tree you planted in your forest withers. You get coins with every point & with enough coins, you can eventually get a IRL tree planted - great for the mind & the planet! Purchase the app through app/play store for just INR 159.
3. The Priority Matrix. Define and organize your tasks in terms of time management using the metrics of ‘Importance and Urgency' in a 4 quadrant matrix and assign each task in its relevant quadrant. Segregating tasks in this quadrant is guaranteed to give you a clear vision and improve your WFH task planning! A TBD team fave, we highly recommend this technique.
4. Engage and set yourself at least one mini ritual on your WFH days! It could be getting up in the morning, having your morning routine go as planned and get dressed for work like you would in normal times. Or, it could be a lunch routine or even a pack-up routine where you organize and clean your workspace at the end of the day. Engaging in at least one of these will help you feel better about that to-do list, waiting to be crossed out!
5. Mute. Delete. Despite the year that we are having, it's okay to take a break and block yourself from the constant stream of news, opinions and noise that the internet brings to your life. Protecting your mental health and improving your phone-life balance (Check out the Space app) can go a very long way!
Staying together in team spirit, even when apart
It’s no secret that WFH’s biggest challenge is team collaboration and communication. It’s so easy to feel hazy, unproductive and down when without our work besties and our colleagues who boost our team spirit day-to-day. Social distancing may be the new reality, but it does not have to manifest itself in our work lives in quite such an isolating manner.
Here are some ways in which we can make our WFH collaborations brighter with fun team-oriented tech and activities:
1. Schedule a zoom call or google hangouts session with your work buddies during lunch time and have lunch together virtually like you would at the office IRL - After all, random chit-chatting or much-needed venting over lunch is at times the highlight of a work day. At TBD, we also love to engage in trivia games and hot takes with Slack’s ‘Polly’ app for a fun time!
3. Conduct fun and interactive virtual employee awards with your team and colleagues! You can have a silly informal one with WFH themed awarded titles like ‘Most likely to be on mute when speaking on a virtual meeting’ or ‘Moonlights as an Artist’. You can also drive more reward-based performance as a leader with awards based on work done, outstanding skills or healthy inter-personal contributions. You can go for Blueboard’s new rewards for in-home experiences as rewards to offer substantial incentive & have a engaged, committed time with the work fam!
4. Start a movie club with your work friends, team and co-workers! Each member can recommend the movie of the week - go in alphabetical order or figure out a fair way for everyone to get a shot. Choosing themes for each round or picking movies that make sense to the brand’s ethos can really turn it into a positive and productive learning opportunity. Make it an engaging work-life social experience with apps like Netflix party!
5. In anxious and high-pressure situations such as the one we are in globally, sometimes knowing that you are not alone and everyone else is going through similar challenges can feel very soothing and empowering. Also, not everything needs to be so serious all the time - adding a little humor can work wonders for you and your colleagues! Create a slack channel opr instagram group with all the co-workers and members of your organisation who are dealing with similar issues - share memes, support each other & rise together!
We hope our comprehensive list of ideas, suggestions and our WFH toolkit help you in some way! We’ve compiled this list to assist you in making your work-life better in this new normal that we have all been suddenly suspended in & hope it serves all your different purposes along the way.
Your stories are incredibly important to us. We are always looking forward to hearing feedback from you and knowing more about your experiences! Write to us with your suggestions on social media or at firstname.lastname@example.org & we might just feature you in one of our upcoming campaigns! Till then - Stay safe, stay happy and stay tuned!
NEHA SANE | JUN-15 2020