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Work From Home COVID-19 Edition

How to #StaySafeStayHome and Collaborate Effectively as One Team

By Deborah Weinstein | Mar 31 2020

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Our Strategic Objectives PR team is practicing physical distancing while working from home. It’s been two productive weeks now, and there’s no immediate end in sight. We take the health and safety of our loved ones, colleagues, clients, and community very seriously, and are collaborating remotely to #stayhomestaysafe and to do what we always do — build, maintain, and protect brands.

Businesses across all industries are making difficult decisions on how to protect their people and their stakeholders due to the continued spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), and the need to smash the curve.

Strategic Objectives is no different!

We are putting a lot of thought, energy and effort into taking all essential measures as we positively move forward through this time of uncertainty.

We have moved from your typical busy, high-energy office environment to a new virtual reality where our home and work life balance merge. We take physical distancing seriously, which means conducting our work, meetings, client presentations and even TGIFs via emails, calls and video conferencing. We apply the same practices to our personal lives as well. We realize we are lucky to live in a time where there’s an abundance of technology that allows us to stay connected.

We asked our team of 30 PR pros, to share some of the ways they’re making work from home (WFH) work; and for some tips on how to stay healthy, focused, motivated and productive.

Five TOP Tips to WFH

{1} Set Up a Separate Workspace

Our teammates agree it’s important to set up a separate ‘workstation’ to ensure there’s a clear distinction between your home life and work life. This allows you to switch on and off as you ‘start’ and ‘end’ your workday, and reminds you to stay healthy and to unwind and recharge.

Other workspace tips include –

  • Set up an office in an extra room, or an area of your home that is not typically used for relaxation.
  • Replicate your workspace. Set up your desk with an additional monitor, keyboard, mouse, headphones – whatever you need to get into the ‘work zone.’
  • Stay organized. Remove any clutter to avoid distraction. Add triggers that spark joy – such as flowers or photographs.

{2} Create a Routine

Our team believes establishing a clear-cut routine is instrumental in ensuring we stay focused, productive and motivated while navigating new territories. These new routines may look somewhat, if not drastically different from our ‘normal’ habits, but we find that committing to them helps keep us on course.

Routine ingredients –

  • Set a regular wake up time, this will help you get ready to start your working day.
  • For most of us – a hot drink, whether a coffee, matcha, tea or even lemon water is necessary to start the day. This at-home routine also forces us to practice our barista skills – aka making designs out of milk foam.
  • Set time in the morning for some ‘you time’ to get set up and start the day. That could mean a quick run, a yoga session, sheet mask or journaling.
  • Get dressed. Wear something other than sweatpants. Apply some lipstick. Do your hair. Anything to make you feel positive and inspired to start your morning – not to mention separating work time from home time.
  • Stay hydrated – if you’re one of those people who forgets to drink water, you can use one of the many available apps such as Drink Water Reminder, Water Reminder – Daily Tracker and Plant Nanny.
  • Take small breaks throughout the day that mimic a typical office day – get up from your desk, move around, connect with a colleague for a touch-base, have a virtual lunch or coffee together.
  • Get outside – even if it’s just for 10-15 minutes or to walk the dog. You don’t need an excuse to spend some time outdoors and get that fresh air! Please remember to maintain physical distancing.

{3} Get Connected

We are used to email, text, and chat to communicate with each other, even when we’re all together at the office. The telephone has become anathema, but now it’s making a comeback as a meaningful conduit for conversation. Big surprise: people like to talk, rub brains, debate, concur, commune, be human.

It probably doesn’t come as a shock that more of us are spending time connecting with one another via video conferencing. A recent Angus Reid survey says, 57% of Canadians are spending more time on video calls with people than they were two weeks prior.

Video group chats like Zoom and Teams are awesome tools that make it easy to collaborate and add imagery for easy sharing — whether we’re prepping for that big presentation (yes, we're still very much in business!), or sharing some we-time all together on #WineWednesday or #TGIF.

The COVID-19 crisis is teaching us the need to be more human and connected in a digital world.

We’ve also found it helpful to connect with everyone by video message, it makes meetings feel more personal and more closely resembles an in-office meeting!

Additional communications tools –

  • Take advantage of the numerous ways to stay connected with one another – Zoom, Google Duo, Webex, Teams, Google Hangout, Facetime, WhatsApp Video Chat, House Party.
  • Check in daily with your team – doing a pulse check is imperative to continue working together as a collaborative, integrated team, despite our physical distance.
  • Continuing traditions – birthdays, TGIF, celebrations and more – to help maintain team morale and taking time to celebrate and enjoy the important milestones

{4} Get Moving

Nature walks, yoga, Pilates, bootcamp, Hiit -- our team likes to move. Studios and gyms are closed, and we’ve had to make adjustments to how we get our regular exercise. Some of our colleagues swear they maximize their daily steps by pacing during calls, others utilize the many stairs in their condo for some serious glute work. The benefits to daily movement are felt by all – they increase productivity, higher energy, and a better, more positive mood overall.

Try one of these activities –

{5} Relax & Take Care

The idea of self-care is widely discussed in our culture, with lots of debate on whether it’s a nice-to-have or a need-to-have. We firmly believe it’s a must! While some may view this as strictly pampering – massage, facial, etc., there are numerous ways to unwind and do simple, yet impactful activities that can help start or end the day on a high note.

How to practice self-care –

  • Meal prep – the act of preparing your meals in advance will ensure you’re eating properly, mindfully and hopefully with some nutritional benefits. If you’re a novice chef, you might consider using one of the many meal delivery programs such as - Good Food, Hello Fresh and Chef’s Plate.
  • Read – non-fiction vs. fiction, audiobook vs. physical book. Regardless of your preference, there’s nothing like sitting down with a good read to regroup, restore and revive.
  • Pay attention to how you feel – physically and mentally. Yoga, nature walks, meditation, breath work, journaling – all small things that can be done easily and are accessible to most everyone in our current situation.
  • Prioritize your use and consumption of electronics, social media and news. In our industry it’s our job to know everything that’s happening in the world and to be able to support our clients as a result. However, we can make small adjustments, like not having electronics in the bedroom, or limiting ‘excessive’ news consumption.

Please Have Your Say

Our Strategic Objectives team is in constant, daily communication and collaboration with each other, our clients, the mainstream, social, and digital media, influencers, our clients’ agency partners, our suppliers, vendors and stakeholder communities to live up to our motto #wemakenews. Working together as one team opens the door to endless opportunities. To quote Michael Jordan – “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

As we continue to progress through our current and future reality, we are mindful of our resilience as an agency, and are #SOproud of our amazing team who adapt and pivot so flawlessly to ensure we deliver service and value.

Did you find these tips helpful? We’d love to hear from you. Please share some of the ways you're managing your team as you continue physical distancing. Please Contact Us here.

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