Working From Home: Our Experience as a Small Business

It has been three weeks since our team at Iteration Insights moved to work from home. The uncertainty of COVID-19 and its rapid spread across Calgary had put companies into a flurry of business continuity planning, which for many, including us, involved setting up our business for remote work.

Despite, our employees having experience working from home for a day or two here and there. The transition to being home every day to help #flattenthecurve through physical distancing proved to have its unique challenges.

During this time, we want to share with you our organization’s transition to working from home and the following tools and tricks that our team has identified as helping our business remain successful despite these difficult circumstances.

The Importance of a Morning Routine

A common theme our team experienced was waking up and going straight to our computers to start our workday. It was not until a couple of days into self-quarantine that we noticed the toll this was taking on each of us.

It was exciting to hear the different ways everyone had found to create their morning routines. Stretching was one example, taking the time to hang out on your yoga mat or even your carpet and just move your body. Mediation was another solution incorporated into morning routines.

One employee shared the tip of closing all your tabs at the end of the day to start your day with a fresh browser. An article that I had read shared an example of still giving yourself a morning commute. This could be as simple as getting up and walking around the block before starting work for the day.

Also, get out of your pajamas. It is not like you must get all dressed up but taking the time to change from your PJs into another outfit before starting work was found to help the day start right.

A way to exercise while working from home
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Exercise and Move Around

Many of us found while working from home that we would go long periods without leaving our chairs.

Unlike working in the office where natural breaks occur like a meeting ending or walking to the washroom, it is different when working from home. Setting a time to stretch, stand up, and walk around is important.

One tip to incorporate breaks into your day is to schedule your meetings to end approximately 5-10 minutes before the end of the hour. This can help to avoid back to back meetings and burn out.

For some of our employees’ exercise is exceptionally important, and with the closure of gyms and recreation centers across the city, it was a difficult adjustment. We found that gym instructors are now offering their classes for free on Instagram Live, which has been helpful.

Or, if your schedule does not coincide with a live workout, another option is watching pre-recorded workouts online through platforms like YouTube.

Watch What You Are Eating

From a very practical perspective, do not sit near your refrigerator. One of our employees was working for the first few days at his kitchen table, which was within arm’s reach of the fridge. Needless to say, he had to rearrange his work set up after a few days of snacking.

Another tip is meal prepping. Even if you are not going to the office every day – you still need to eat. Meal prepping could be a therapeutic way to help curb your appetite at snack time when that bag of chips is staring at you from the top shelf of your cupboard. However, what works for one person may not work for everyone.

Some employees enjoyed the fact that because their commute time was now removed. They had more time to get creative and make a warm, healthy breakfast versus a quick grab and go.

Lastly, for all you coffee drinkers out there! Remember to match those coffee cups with water to stay hydrated. We found that working from home can sometimes lead to one person drinking that whole pot of coffee.

Have a Good Remote Work Set Up

Working from home is an opportunity to create a workspace that reflects your personality.

During our meeting, we all learned a little bit about what makes our workspace unique. For some, it was having their station by a window so they could look outside. For others, it was being able to use their mechanical keyboards and large headsets.

As much as the physical workspace is vital, it is also important that it is practical. Something important for us all was having at least one other monitor in addition to our work laptops.

Also, reliable access to wifi and space where you can talk to your team without dishes banging in the background or being in a high traffic area we found to be important and helped keep us focused during the workday and reduce distractions.

A good working from home set up.
Photo by Luke Peters on Unsplash

Technology

We know we would not have been able to adapt so quickly to the changes COVID-19 sprung on us if it were not for the technology we utilize.

Because of COVID-19, our team had to transition to working from home very quickly. For the business, this included moving our in-person training delivery to remote training delivery.

We were able to leverage Microsoft Teams, which we already use for our business operations, to deliver the remote training and then communicate this change to attendees. The ease of installation allowed us to test the environment with each attendee for quality.

Next, our team came up with the idea to upload our training document to Github. This allowed our attendees to access their training manuals, Power BI files and PowerPoint presentations from home.

Within one week, Microsoft Teams enabled us to deliver our courses remotely and allowed our instructors to conduct training seamlessly from their perspective homes.

Since then, we have been able to shift all our upcoming events to be delivered virtually via Microsoft Teams meetings.

Working From Home: Our New Normal

The month of March showed more changes than many of us have seen in our entire lifetime.

It is not every day that the World Health Organization declares a virus a pandemic and very literally, the world around you goes into self-isolation. However, I think more than anything we have learned that one of the ways we can help the situation is by creating a new normal.

A normal that involves working from home and keeping our physical distance from one another yet communicating and working in collaboration more than ever before. We can create positive change during this time through meaningful morning routines and maintaining healthy habits throughout the day to help us stay productive at work and look after our well-being at the same time.

Together, we will get through this difficult time and we look forward to including you on our journey. Until next time!

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