Anyone else’s inbox filling up with companies you haven’t heard from for years hammering on how important it is to sing the happy birthday song twice every time you wash your hands?! With the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the amount of emails flooding in is reminiscent of that time when new GDPR guidelines were introduced shudders.
Don’t worry, Papercup isn’t here to add to your mounting inbox just to be deleted. We’re also not here to tell you to wash your hands for the thousandth time today (though it is very important!). We’re here to share what our lovely team are doing to adjust to the new work from home setup. Quick disclaimer: this is just a summary of our team’s experience of going through this confusing, unsettling and tumultuous times, while trying to keep business as usual (for the most part). If you’re in the same predicament as us, share your struggles/discoveries with us!
On that note, here’s our top tips to maintain the office feel from home and resist biting your partner/flatmate’s head off.
This sounds obvious, but as many of our co-workers with spouses and families may have noticed, it’s challenging. When you’re working from the office, there’s a clear difference in work time and personal time (one being a 30 minute commute away!). So above all, finding a workspace in your home is probably the best thing you can do for your productivity. I know how tempting it can be when your bed is only a couple of steps away, especially when it’s dreary outside (r.e. every day in the UK), but your brain can’t work from your bed. It’s as simple as that!
Harvard’s Division of Sleep Medicine encourages a separation from work and sleep/relaxing, and you can’t argue with both science and Harvard! They say, “Keeping computers, TVs, and work materials out of the room will strengthen the mental association between your bedroom and sleep.” It also is thought to disrupt your sleep quality if you’re working late at night, as the bright screens can reduce your melatonin.
To help us get into ‘the zone’, our team has come up with some interesting ways to separate their space while working from home.
We’d like to mention again that we don’t condone working from your bed (looking at you, Margarita 👀). However, if, like us, you are a renter in London or a similarly extortionately priced city, there may not be another option. I’m afraid we can’t help you any further, say goodbye to good posture!
Make sure you have what you need
Working from home is not the norm for most of us and, given the quick yet completely necessary decision many companies took to go remote, some of us might not have had time to fully adjust. Before you panic run to your office to grab bits and pieces while inevitably forgetting something essential, it’s important to make a thorough list of what you need so you can make as few trips as possible. If you’re far from having a productive setup at home, it might be a good idea to have a chat with your company about offering a work from home budget or reimbursing expenses to make sure you’re as established as possible.
A lot of the Papercup team have a standing desk in the office and are feeling a little bit lost without it. While we would suggest investing in setting up a good ‘office’ for yourself at home, we found that using children’s books, empty boxes and a laundry rack have been good temporary measures!
Distancing doesn’t have to be lonely
We’re a sociable bunch at Papercup and the idea of social distancing had some us gasp in horror. Where will we get our memes? Who will pitch ridiculous ideas at lunch?! Who will bring our Friday bagels?!? In a world without a rampant pandemic, each team at Papercup starts each day with a standup and there are many internal little meetings, coffee breaks and chats that happen all the time. Now that we’re all quarantined in our homes we still try to keep our morning standups through video calls and we try to schedule as many chats as possible through conferencing tools like zoom, whereby, skype, google hangouts, what have you. We also keep our Friday team breakfasts by eating together on Zoom.
As you can see, Zoom has a nifty little feature where you can change your background, which many of our teammates love!
If you live near your colleagues or other friends working from home, you can set up working from home dates to make it a little more social and collaborative (give that both you, your coworkers and their families are feeling well). Check out our Twitter (@papercupai) for regular updates about how we’re coping with being separated from each other (wasn’t this just the perfect time for a shameless promo).
Take your breaks
We’re a tech company shocker and spend almost every waking moment glued to our screens. Our hands are practically morphed into a permanent mouse-holding position. A lot of our team use 2 or 3 screens at any one time, so we realise this tip is a little hypocritical of us but try and take some of your lunch break screen-free, and yes that includes your phone. If you live near an open area, going for a short walk twice a day is not only a great break from work but can do wonders to keep your body healthy (please do keep an eye out and respect your country’s lockdown protocols though). There’s a Chrome extension called ’Healthy Browsing’ which alerts you to move, stretch, drink some water, and give your eyes a rest!
Some screen-free activities can include:
- Cooking! Take this time to cook up something delicious - even if it is only from non-perishable items 🥫
- Read a book. Some of our CEO Jesse’s top recommendations include: Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar, Deep Work by Cal Newport and Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss.
- Talk to a human being. Be that your flatmates, partner, or family. We know this one is a little radical. We apologise for making such a ridiculous point.
- Take a power nap. Research shows that a nap of up to 20 minutes can boost alertness and improve motor skills. But this is not an excuse to get back into bed for work!
- Make a long list of all the places you want to go post-quarantine and promise yourself you’ll never turn down an invitation to go out again.
- Look outside enviously when there’s nice weather.
Keep stress low
In our first tip, we discussed how a lack of boundaries can affect your ability to work, but it also has the adverse effect. If you’re always in the same space, it’s easy to feel like you’re always ‘at work’ and unable to switch off. Keeping stress levels low and manageable is important throughout your entire life, but in such uncertain times, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, stressed out or out of control. Tanya, our wonderful head of operations, has shared some resources to help keep spirits high and stress low:
- Headspace have released a selection of free meditations, sleep tracks and movement exercises called ‘Weathering the Storm’. Sometimes, a couple of minutes of focused breathing is enough to release some stress and better your headspace (excuse the pun!)
- Yoga with Adriene is a fantastic yoga instructor with over 6 milliion YouTube subscribers. She has created a playlist of yoga flows to help overcome issues during self-isolation.
- Ration your media intake. While it’s important to keep informed, having a constant stream of bad news isn’t good for your mental health.
- goodmammals.com shares a list of offers that companies are holding to make self-isolation a little more enjoyable with everything from films to fitness.
- Read the Papercup blog and engineering blog! They’re not only hilarious, but also informative. No bias here. Just our personal favourite way to wind down.
We hope this was if not moderately entertaining then at least of some use to you while giving an insight into team Papercup! We’d love to hear how you’re adjusting to working from home and sharing any tips we can use here. Who knows how long this pandemic is going to last… Message us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook at @papercupai 📥