Had you asked us last summer whether we’d be willing to skip the office, stay in our pajamas all day and never have to see our cubicle neighbor ever again, we would most likely have jumped at the opportunity.
A few months into the coronavirus crisis, however, and there’s nothing we’d like more than to once again shut our ears to the sounds of our coworkers obliviously munching on their crunchy carrots.
But since it will take some time until we can again delight in pointedly plugging in our earphones and giving our surroundings our very best death stare, we caught up with Eliraz Avramovich, an HR specialist from Jerusalem unicorn startup Lightricks, to learn how we can make our work-from-home a little bit better.
Because if it’s good enough for a unicorn, it’s certainly good enough for us.
- Stay away from the bedroom
First things first. According to Avramovich, it’s super important to locate your home work station in the right place. “We very much recommend that your working space will not be adjacent to your bedroom,” she says.
This is big news for yours truly, who finds working from bed to be absolutely magnificent, but Avramovichnotes that separation is needed in order to allow both productive work time during the day and successful winding down in the evening. Duly noted.
- Make your workspace easy to work in
If you already have a home desk, chances are that it’s buried under house bills, miscellaneous items and last month’s newspapers.
“Now that you need your home desk for work, you need to move the clutter,” Avramovich determines. “Just get rid of the clutter and make your workspace workable for you.”
This, she notes, means treating it like you would your desk at the office and even decorating it with a plant or a framed photograph. “Anything that you’re used to from your working space to really get into the mindspace,” she says.
- Mark clear hours for work and leisure
“People forget to rest; they don’t take breaks,” Avramovichsays. And while that may be productive in the short run, in the long run it means burnout.
“To prevent burnout, set specific hours for work, break and play,” she says. “I think my absolute no-no would be not taking time for yourself.”
- Create end-of-day traditions
To help you compartmentalize your day, Avramovich suggests creating end-of-day traditions and ceremonies to signal that work is coming to an end. This, she says, can be anything from deciding that the last half hour of your working day will always be dedicated to making tomorrow’s to-do list to meditating for a minute or two.
“Little daily things really help you feel the transition,” she explains.
- Work out
An oldie but a goodie – working out, especially when cooped up at home all day, is of paramount importance.
“Any type of sport is good. It’s good for your blood, it’s good for your concentration,” Avramovichnotes.
If you’re a very goal-driven person, she adds, you can use various apps to motivate you to complete different fitness challenges. Over at Lightricks, for example, learning how to master a handstand in 30 days proved to be a big hit.
- Socialize with your colleagues
Just because you’re not at the office doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a mid-morning coffee with your colleagues. Avramovich, for example, opened up a Slack channel at work called “I want coffee,” where anyone who fancies a break can enjoy a chat with like-minded coworkers over a hot cuppa.
She also notes that it’s important that managers utilize their one-on-one online meetings with their team members for things other than business. Catching up, assessing emotional well-being and just having a conversation are all equally important.
- Invest in some food prep
Despite Israeli startups being notoriously famous for their generous lunch allowance, Avramovich recommends investing in some food prep that results in saving both time and money during a busy workday. After all, living off takeout while *NOT* lying in bed all day isn’t a recipe for success. So get chopping.
- Take a staycation
Don’t let the fact that you can’t take that wonderfully exotic vacation stop you from taking a good week or two off work.
Avramovich shares that Lightricks management is encouraging workers to take time off, and not just a measly day or two. After all, the last couple of months haven’t exactly been a picnic, and we could all do with some serious relaxation.
- Set boundaries
It’s all good that you set yourself clear hours for work, but you have to remember to stick to them even if they vary slightly from those of your colleagues.
Avramovich gives as an example team managers who feel like they have to be on call for their teams – some of whom may be parents who start working as early as possible in order to clock off accordingly, while others are students who begin late and finish late. But making themselves available 13 hours a day is not the right solution, she notes. Instead, she suggests setting and communicating clear boundaries about hours and availability.
“We’re all adults and we all get it, but sometimes we need reminding,” she says.
- Don’t avoid difficult conversations
Is something your colleague or boss doing bothering you? Don’t linger in anticipation that they’ll realize their errors on their own. Address your complaint as soon as possible.
“When you’re from afar everything becomes a big deal,” Avramovich says. “It’s hard to have a difficult conversation.”
The fact that we can’t have a quick word with our coworkers in the hall or the feeling that putting complaints into writing makes the whole thing really official and unpleasant leads many people to avoid speaking up, but this, Avramovich suggests resolving any issues as quickly as possible before they blow up out of proportion.