As COVID-19 continues to spread, marketers across the globe are working from home. Here’s how to serve coworkers and clients and remain productive during self-isolation.
As the novel coronavirus spreads across the United States, cancelled plans are becoming the new normal. Expert advice proposes limiting group gatherings to under 10, states are scrambling to impose restrictions on social contact, and of course, most corporate offices are shutting down for the foreseeable future.
Following the lead of Apple, Twitter, and other large companies with offices in New York, L&T’s leadership decided last Thursday to institute a work-from-home mandate until March 30 (at the very earliest). During that time, our employees in both New York and Bilbao are encouraged to stay home as much as possible and minimize their contact with the outside world.
While freelance and remote workers are veterans of at-home productivity, many agency and in-house marketers have never worked from home for extended periods of time. For those who are new to the process, working from home can feel like an unusually stressful vacation mixed with an isolating day at the office. To help combat any added anxiety, L&T compiled our list of best practices for marketers like ourselves who may be struggling to find balance in our new work environments.
1. Work from home. Really.
In most major metropolitan areas, including New York City, restaurants, bars, libraries, gyms, and theaters are indefinitely closed. But if you’re living in a place where coffee shops and cafes are still open, now is not the time to go.
Under normal WFH circumstances, restaurants and libraries are great for breaking up the monotony of a lonely workday and simulating the social pressure to be productive that comes with an open floor plan office. However, the purpose of the coronavirus self-distancing recommendation is to limit contact between strangers as much as possible — and the best way to do that is to just stay home.
2. Create a routine and stick with it.
If you don’t normally work from home, you may have difficulty enforcing the boundaries between work time and free time. Ask yourself if taking a “quick break” to do your laundry and suddenly finding yourself deep into a full spring cleaning project sounds familiar — or if keeping reality TV on in the background feels tempting.
To combat distraction, stick to as much of your normal morning routine as possible. Wake up, take a shower, eat breakfast, and sit down to work — preferably in a dedicated workspace that doesn’t have to be packed up at the end of each day. Creating a separation between work and home requires being diligent with both your time and space, and your productivity will take a toll if you don’t make an effort to compartmentalize.
3. Check in with each other, even if you don’t have meetings.
Self-isolation can be just that: isolating. Luckily, in the form of our digital devices, we have a leg up on the early modern Europeans who were forced into quarantine during intermittent plagues. Some may believe that digital distractions will keep us from writing our own King Lear during this period, but they certainly keep us from feeling as lonely as Shakespeare did while composing.
Workplaces, and especially creative workplaces, are inherently collaborative. That doesn’t have to change now that you and your colleagues are in separate buildings. Whether it’s via Slack, email, text, or Zoom call, check in with your colleagues — even if you don’t have a pressing question — to see what they’re working on and whether or not they need your help.
4. Realize that clients may also be dealing with coronavirus.
It’s safe to assume that most marketers will need to be a little — or a lot — more flexible than usual during this time. Speak with your clients if work is going to be delayed and ensure you’re on the same page about revised delivery schedules. Realize that your clients, their colleagues, or their relatives may be ill, so they may need as much flexibility as you.
Fortunately, companies’ online presences will become increasingly important in the coming weeks and months, especially as consumers are forced to stay home. Marketers that dig deep to impress their clients now can solidify partnerships and reap the long term benefits.
5. Make use of cloud-based collaboration and communication tools.
Thanks to the plethora of cloud-based communication and project management tools that are on the market today, staying connected with your colleagues is easy. If you aren’t already, now is the time to get extra-familiar with your agency or company’s tech stack.
Here at L&T, we use Slack to communicate throughout the day, Google Drive to share and track documents, Zoom to see each other’s smiling faces, and a suite of other project management tools to help our design, development, content, and growth marketing teams to stay organized. We already depend on these tools to enhance collaboration and make our workday easier, but they will become our lifelines in the coming weeks.
6. Take advantage of the extra breathing room.
While it’s important to remember that working from home is not paid time off, it does afford you a lot more free time and flexibility than a normal workday. Now that you’re not dedicating an hour or more each day to your commute, use that valuable free time to take a step back from your work.
You certainly don’t have to write your masterpiece in quarantine, but if you feel up to it, why not take on an extra project? Assess what’s working and not working with your work style, brainstorm new ideas for your clients and company, plan your next big move, or even take up meditation.
However you’re spending your work from home time, take comfort in remembering that we’re all in this together, even when we’re apart. Separating for now will keep everyone safer down the road, and thanks to the tools at our disposal, we can stay connected and productive while navigating a new normal.