In the last month, more and more companies have started to implement work-from-home (WFH) policies because of the spread of COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus. Employees from businesses in many industries are having to get to grips with this new routine and new work environment. Many people already work from home and for those who don’t usually, it may sound like a luxury yet it can be very unproductive and getting on with your work is easier said than done.
Here at rightsHUB, we’ve talked with a bunch of our fellow industry professionals and asked for their advice on how they are running their businesses and coping with working at home. We’ve compiled their advice and put it into this article for you to ensure you are efficient, productive and keep your business afloat during these distressing times.
Not having to get up early and get ready before then commuting to work sounds ideal. You can lie in bed longer, perhaps not even shower, then just jump on your computer and get working. Do not do this. Treat your days at home like you are going into the office. Wake up at your usual time, get showered, get dressed and not go back into your pyjamas!
Next, don’t work sitting on your sofa or lying in your bed. Create a workspace that mimics your workspace in the office. Use a desk or dining room table not only to recreate an office-like feel, but also maintain good posture and then when it comes to the end of the day, you can ‘leave work’.
Karen Emmanuel, CEO, Key Production gave us this fantastic advice as well as saying how important it is to have regular breaks, get up and move and take breaths of fresh air. When working at home it’s extremely easy to just restrict yourself inside 24/7. Don’t let that happen! Matt Abbott, CEO of Labelworx agrees. "Don't fall into the trap of working in PJs all day, and sitting in them all night. A fresh body and fresh mind really helps separate work from home. Always get up a ready like you're going to the office."
Whether you are the CEO of a business or an employee, planning the day or week ahead is essential. Not being able to have face to face meetings in the office anymore can slow down productivity as people won’t know what to do with themselves when they jump online for the day. Our friend, Mark Quail gave us this piece of advice by saying;
“Order your ‘to-do’ list for each workday to have the most complex and detailed work as the first thing you tackle each morning. Your brain is fresh and you will have the patience needed to do a great job on the tough work. If you do that, by lunch you will already feel that you’ve got a lot done. Don’t procrastinate. Push all routine administrative office work, tasks you can do in your sleep and general business phone conversations into the afternoon when your attention span is probably running a little thin.”
Something you might find you have time for is working on a different project. Considering you don’t have to commute to work anymore, you may have additional hours in your day. Lee Morrison, our CEO here at rightsHUB, suggested; “Pick a project, something you won’t normally get the chance or time to do and replace your commute with it. Use this new extra time and do something productive that you’ll see a benefit from in the long run.”
Once you’ve settled into working in the comfort of your own home, it can be really easy to just stay there at your desk. It’s a familiar environment and sitting down at your desk for the full day is an easy trap to fall into. We highly recommend taking short breaks where you get up, stretch and move your muscles and perhaps get some fresh air if you can. If you can’t get outside in a garden or balcony for a bit, open a window to let in some natural light and fresh air. If you are able to get out and go for a walk, make sure you wash your hands once you come back! Matt Abbott CEO of Labelworx stresses the importance of this. "Try to walk to a store or at the minimum eat lunch away from your working space," says Matt Abbott of Labelworx. "It's so easy to stay in the same seat all day. When you're not commuting you don't have an office to walk around, so your step count will be down," he continues. "When I take voice calls I walk around the house from window to window, getting some light."
A very popular and proven method is called the Pomodoro Technique. This technique is a time management method which involves taking a break from work or your activity every 25 minutes. Using a timer, once your 25 minutes of working is up, take a 5 minute break and then get back into it.
Just because we have been told to social distance from one another does not give you the excuse to not socialise at all! Being outside the office environment means that it is harder to have little chats with your colleagues but don’t be afraid to pick up the phone check up on those you work with. It is so important for yourself and for those around you to keep in contact and be there for one another. In these times, we will all cope with this in different ways with some struggling and others finding it easy.
We asked Paul Jonas from Tru Thoughts what things do you think music businesses can do to help support their staff mentally and keep their morale high. He replied telling us how he and his team are calling each other and supporting each other during these tough times. On top of this, Paul is personally having face to face Skype calls to regularly check in with staff “on both a work and personal level.”
Sammy Andrews from Deviate Digital gave us an insight into how her team has been running things and something she highlighted was the importance of staying positive, having banter and keeping in contact. “The challenge right now for us is team morale. It's a very difficult and confusing time and we are utilizing technology not only to work together, but to communicate and provide human contact. This is a vital element of getting through the coming weeks and important to my team's mental health.”
It may be worth scheduling up morning and evening meetings. Chris Meehan told us that over at Sentric Music they are keeping clear lines of communication and organising regular meetings both in the morning and evening.”These meetings should ensure that there are no feelings of isolation and we’re trying to replicate the working environment in order to achieve this.”
Being in self isolation is extremely tough. Not being able to see your friends, family and colleagues for an undetermined time is tough and as previously mentioned, people handle these situations differently. Be considerate to one another and think about the fact that not everyone has the same mindset as you.
As we’ve previously stated, it’s a lot easier to focus on your work when in the office because your brain associates the office with being productive and getting work done. At home, it can be hard to concentrate and on top of that you may have both physical and mental distractions.
Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you can also take care of chores. If you were in the office, you wouldn’t be taking care of these chores or even preparing for them so do not let it distract you.
You may also have kids at home which can lead to further distractions. Although this is something you can’t just ignore, there are ways to get work done with kids in the house. For those with younger kids such as babies and toddlers, try to get work done early in the morning, nap times or in the evening once they’ve been put to bed. For those with older kids, be honest and explain the situation and tell them you need to concentrate on work for a bit.
Make sure you don’t ignore your kids completely. Being stuck inside is just as tough for them as it is for you, if not tougher. Try new activities and games when you can. Most importantly, speak to your boss and explain your situation! Explain to them that you have kids and you’re trying your best to balance everything so then if there are any distractions, they won’t be surprised to hear a baby crying on a call!
With everything going online to ensure working from home is easy, there are a plethora of tools, applications and websites that you can utilise to collaborate with your colleagues. Matt Smith from Rights Division helped us put together this list for you down below with tools that we highly recommend;
Using Google Drive allows you to share documents, collaborate on different projects and work in unison even though you may be hundreds of miles apart.
If you aren’t already using rightsHUB, you’re missing out. Here at rightsHUB, we provide you with the service to easily manage your music assets, rights and data. It’s all online and easy to use. Get signed up here
Zoom is fantastic for organising group calls, both audio and video. It’s extremely easy to use and set up a conference call and can help you stay in contact with your colleagues.
Here at rightsHUB, we use Slack all the time. It’s a great way to check in on your colleagues. You can private message individuals or set up different channels to have group chats.
Skype is one of the go-to applications to use for video calls and has been for years. It’s free, easy to use and nearly everyone has it.
Trello allows you to take notes, create tasks, organise them and assign them to different people. It’s all based online making it easy to share and collaborate with everyone else. At rightsHUB, we use it to plan all our workflow.
With people working in different places all around the world, some companies may need to send and receive certain currencies. TransferWise offers the best fees for converting currencies and is free to set up an account with.
Managing to work from home can be difficult and if you run social media pages, Buffer is fantastic for scheduling posts and can manage many different pages allowing you to get on with other work.
If you need to send files to colleagues or clients then WeTransfer is for you. Google Drive and Gmail are great however it has a limit. WeTransfer is quick, easy to use and free and works through email making it convenient for everyone.
Dropbox is similar to WeTransfer however it’s an application instead of the files being sent through email. With different plans, it is perfect for businesses to use to share their files.
Asana is a web and mobile application that helps organisations manage their work. It’s great in organising full projects and helping colleagues visualise their tasks.
The challenge right now for us is team morale. It’s a very difficult and confusing time. We are utilising technology not only to work together but to communicate and provide human contact. This is a vital element of getting through the coming weeks and important to my team's mental health.
Try to separate your work and personal environment if at all possible. When working at home your job can easily overwhelm your personal life and space. Try not to let that happen. If you can’t create a specific space, make sure you have some clear working hours. Shut the laptop when those are over. Make sure you get dressed. Sounds ridiculous but it’s important. Try to take a (safe) walk or sit in the garden if you have one.
It’s important to have a bit of banter as much as it is work. Stay positive as this unprecedented situation will pass. Try to eat and drink well. Get exercise where you can too. 24 hours attached to a sofa isn’t good for anyone!
Sammy Andrews, Deviate Digital, CEO:
“Keep the day varied and ensure you have some enjoyable conversations within your day. I’ve also learnt that if you get angry with work then step away from the screen. If you are self-isolating then you need to stay positive. Work must not harm mental health.
We started a Facebook page to cheer each other up. We’re a small team of ten who have a really good relationship, so will be calling each other and supporting each other. We take our work very seriously but are also clear with our staff that their health is the most important.
Of course any artistic content at the moment will take people’s minds off the situation, and give people a sense of society, even if they are cut-off from it. I think that is the most important thing that music can do, and always does.”
Paul Jonas, Tru Thoughts, Founder:
“Get dressed! Treat the day as you would if you were in the office. Have a workspace laid out that isn’t your sofa! Have regular breaks. Get out into the open (if safely possible). Talk via video conferencing software. Pick up the phone for human interaction.
Keep everyone updated. Have a lot of contact with others remotely. Send each other tips and guidance. Keep your sense of humour. Don’t watch the news. Keep pragmatic. Keep listening to music! Support your favourite bands and record shops by buying products from their sites. Set up WhatsApp/Facebook groups.”
Karen Emmanuel, Key Production, CEO:
“Order your ‘to do’ list for each workday to have the most complex and detailed work as the first thing you tackle each morning. Your brain is fresh and you will have the patience needed to do a great job on the tough work.
If you do that, by lunch you will already feel that you’ve got a lot done. Don’t procrastinate. Push all routine administrative office work and tasks that you can get done in your sleep, general business phone conversations into the afternoon when your attention span is probably running a little thin.”
Chris Meehan, Sentric Music, CEO:
“Ensure that you have a designated space to work with the tools that you need at your disposal. We’ve allowed staff to take equipment home that will make them feel as equipped to work remotely as they are in the office.Keep clear lines of communication and have regular stand ups. We’re doing morning and evening meetings within teams. We are trying to ensure that there are no feelings of isolation and in order to achieve this, we’re aiming to replicate the working environment.”
If you can take something from each section of this article then you are on your way to being able to work from home comfortably. We wanted to write this piece to help people as much as possible. Times are really tough at the moment so we all must come together and help one another. As an overview we’ve provided a small checklist below;