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BLOG: “Remote Control”

No channel surfing here! Stay tuned because below I am sharing my top three tips for keeping calm and taking control of your remote work environment during these crazy times of uncertainty. Enjoy this blog and please stay safe.

-Nicole Pace-Addeo, M.A.

Many employees, including ours at Stokes, are transitioning to remote work environments and enjoying the comfort of their own homes with the sounds of the dogs playing in the background, or maybe kids or spouses typing away on their computers nearby. For some, this is a welcomed adjustment to step away from the office environment for a bit, but for others, working from home might not live up to the hype.

For me, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work remotely for more than a year since I am often traveling to meetings and project sites around the Garden State. When I first began my WFH life, I set up my laptop and folders on the dining room table and it persisted to be a cringe-worthy sight for a long time when walking through the front door. Manila folders, post-it notes, and papers were spread out across my table. The  mess remained until mid-February when I  revamped my home office by moving the desk, painting the walls, and turning it into my own 49ers fan cave (see photo below), which I now absolutely love and look forward to working in every day!

Speaking of home offices, let’s start with my first tip – find or create your workspace and make it feel good. Being distraction-free is pivotal to working from home, so the dining room table in the middle of your house may not be the best place (trust me, I know firsthand!). The kitchen is another easy place for distractions and of course, the temptation to snack more throughout the day. Remember the “freshman 15” in college? Well, working from home could easily bring you back to that state, so be mindful of where you set up shop. Your workspace should also be comfortable and inviting. “The couch, right?” No! The couch is comfortable, yes, but would be awful for your posture. Plus, who wants to sit on the couch without the TV on? You’ll squash your productivity and focus if the TV is on, so you’ll have to work elsewhere, I’m sorry to say. All you need is a table and chair to start, then add in a few touches to make it feel good – sit near a window to enjoy the natural vitamin D when the sun shines, play some background music, burn a candle, enjoy your coffee or water and stay focused.

This leads to my next tip –take breaks and move around just like you do at work. Now that you’ve got your workspace set up, it’s important to step away from it once per hour for one-minute to rest your eyes and move your body. Staying hydrated by drinking lots of water is also crucial for concentration and productivity, so be sure to take a trip to the kitchen for your water refill once an hour. When you stand up, give your back and arms a good stretch. You should be doing this at the office, but chances are, with so much going on there, you often forget to give your body a break. The best thing about these one-minute breaks can be getting a minuscule task done like putting your breakfast dish and mug into the dishwasher, tossing wet clothes into the dryer, folding the blanket on the sofa, picking up the dog toys so you don’t trip, etc. Again, these quick tasks can be done in seconds and help you feel productive at home in between being productive at work. Oh, and of course, don’t forget to kiss the dogs on the way back to your workspace – a photo of my two, Teddie and Talula, are shown below.

Lastly, when it comes to taking control of your new norm, I highly recommend my final tip – replace emails with video chats whenever possible. Seeing and hearing the faces you normally see at the office will help fulfill your need for connection and stronger communication with your team. At Stokes, we use Microsoft Teams and it works so well for short questions that don’t require an email or call, and group meetings for various projects. Below this blog you’ll see a photo of a recent video chat I had with Justin about some of our marketing services. In today’s society, we’ve all grown so accustomed to nonverbal communication with emails and texts (which are great for certain situations) so I wholeheartedly believe that remote work gives us a unique opportunity to truly embrace verbal discussions, even if the receiving end doesn’t like to turn on their camera for the full effect. Another benefit of video chats through Teams is the ability to share your screen, making collaboration much easier. I no longer need to send files back and forth, taking up time and energy. Now, I can simply dial up my colleague or multiple team members, show them my screen and finish the task more quickly.

Hopefully my three tips can help you gain control of your productivity by finding the right balance in your new workspace, whether it’s your first experience working from home, or you’ve been sending emails in your pajamas for a while (like me.) Hey, there’s nothing wrong with it, either! Comfort equals creativity in my book.

Thanks for reading and please send me an email (or Teams message) and let me know some of your best WFH tips. I’d love to hear them – Also, be sure to check out Stokes’ remote solutions to see how we’re able to keep projects moving amidst the halt on face-to-face meetings.