What are your favorite things about working remotely? Is it controlling the thermostat? Maybe the best part is access to a fridge full of food? Or do you find it challenging to think of anything good about working from home?
As of June 2020, 42% of the US labor force is working from home, 33% are not working, and 26% are essential service workers.
Now that most of the pre-COVID-19 stigma surrounding remote working is gone, many employers and their workforce have discovered many benefits to working remotely.
According to recent surveys, with many companies deciding how to approach work from home options beyond the pandemic, working remotely is here to stay for 20% of the workforce. That is four-fold the pre-COVID-19 level of 5% of employees working from home.
How Iceberg Web Design Works Remotely
We at Iceberg Web Design continue to work remotely. In this post, we are pulling back the curtain to share some of the ups and downs we have experienced working from home. We will also share a few of the things we’ve done to overcome the challenges of working separately as a team.
At Iceberg, we have always had the option of working from home on a snow day or other such events, so the concept wasn’t a completely foreign concept to us. Still, there is a big difference between working from home for a day and working from home for months. It wouldn’t have been possible without the fantastic technology available to businesses. We have the advantage of being a tech-savvy group of people.
Technology Tips for Working Remotely!
For teams learning this new technology for the first time, there is a learning curve to be aware of. Start with the essential tools for running your business remotely and be flexible as everyone gets up to speed. And don’t be afraid to ask for help from someone who can walk you through the steps of using a new piece of software or some other tool. For that reason, finding the best way to communicate with customers and team members will likely be your number one priority in the beginning.
Our Favorite Remote Communication Tools
Zoom and Slack have become indispensable tools for keeping the lines of communication open. While we were comfortable with these modes of communication, over the past few months, we have learned to embrace them, which has enabled us to open up new ways of communicating with one another and our clients. We also use Teamwork, a project management app. This keeps us all on track and prevents anything from falling through the cracks.
We still have had to adjust to some changes in communication. It can be challenging to make sarcasm and humor translate from the spoken word to Slack messages. This is something for people to keep in mind whether they are emailing or sending a text or slack message. While not recommended in email correspondence, emojis are great for this purpose. Our team has found that they also are a way to add personality to our responses.
Also, to keep work and family life separate, it can help to turn off notifications from work when you have finished your workday.
Our team is a close-knit group, so to keep our connection to one another strong, we each write a morning update into Slack’s “Standuply” feature. We celebrate our wins and think about how to overcome any obstacles we encounter.
We also have a social hour every few weeks when we jump on a Zoom call and catch up. Morale needs to be aware of our need for connection. Simultaneously, less water cooler talk, because we are no longer in the office, means we have more focus and are getting more done in less time!
Flexibility at a Time When We Need It Most
One significant benefit of working remotely is the flexibility it allows us to have. This helps us to balance our professional responsibilities with the needs of our families. This has been particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic as parents help their children navigate distance learning for the first time. This balance between work and family life is one of Iceberg’s core values.
Finding that Balance Can be Tricky at First
We feel guilty when we take some time out from our workday to care for our children and pets. It can be difficult for family members to understand that even though we are home, we are still engaged in our work duties. We also feel guilty when family members return at the end of the day, and we haven’t done any household chores or meal preparation. This guilt is usually something that originates in our mind and is rarely heaped upon us by others. Employees with experience working from home in the past or who’ve had a partner work from home adjust more quickly.
It can help to have a designated workspace that you use for work only. This signals to your family—and yourself that you are on the clock. Keeping the same work schedule every day will also help you fall into a routine. Some of us use separate laptops for work and personal life.
Sometimes We Forget to Take Breaks
We can get so focused on a project that we lose track of time. Before you realize it, your shoulders and neck are tight, and your eyes are dry because you’ve been staring at your computer screen with an intensity that renders you unable to blink.
Set a timer, either on Slack through Slackbot, another app, your phone, or an analog timer. Stand up and stretch, get a drink of water, and move around for a few minutes. If you have a job where you have to sit for long periods, moving around every 30 minutes can cut your risk of death from “sitting disease.” Two relatively simple apps are the Tomato Timer and Awareness.
Customer Service During the COVID-19 Pandemic
How we interact with customers has also changed in the past six months. We talk longer with them, and these conversations seem to always shift from the project at hand to non-work-related topics. This may be a side effect of customers—and us—missing the time we used to spend talking with other adults.
It’s unfortunate that for a while, at least, our customers aren’t able to meet with us in the office. Something is reassuring about the buzz of a busy office. It lets customers know that their project is backed by an entire team of website developers and digital marketing gurus. The value of that is hard to explain, but it is worth a lot.
Today and Tomorrow
Thankfully, that team still exists—more efficient than ever. Right now, we are just connected via Zoom and Slack, rather than the same office space. This has meant making some changes, even to our website. We used to encourage people to come and visit us in the office for a beer and a game of pool.
We look forward to the day when we can do that again. Until then, we are still answering the phone, offering you excellent customer service, and working to bring visibility to your business. In the future, our team would like to work part of the week from home and part of it from the office. It’s exciting to be able to tap into the benefits of both. Are you working remotely? What benefits have you discovered to work from home? What challenges have you encountered, and how can they be overcome?
We would love to talk to you about how we can help your business continue to thrive. Contact us today for marketing solutions (and a great conversation).
 Wong, May. “A Snapshot of a New Working-from-Home Economy.” Stanford News, 26 June 2020, news.stanford.edu/2020/06/29/snapshot-new-working-home-economy/.
Chai, Carmen. “Sitting All Day at Work? Get up Every 30 Minutes to Cut Your Risk of Death.” Global News, Global News, 13 Sept. 2017, globalnews.ca/news/3740438/sitting-all-day-at-work-get-up-every-30-minutes-to-cut-your-risk-of-death/.