Ideas / Remote Work

Working from home? We’re here to help – 10 tips for working remotely.

by James Young, Principal

While Tangible maintains a physical office in San Francisco, our team is fully distributed across North America and beyond. Because we know many people are working from home for the first time, we wanted to share our tips and tricks for how to work from home effectively.

Tangible is a team of 25+. We are designers, writers, strategists, UX researchers and Design Thinkers. We work collaboratively with each other and our clients, and are remote 99% of the time.

Here are 10 tips (in no specific order) for working remotely successfully. We hope these tips help you during this difficult time. Let us know if you try them and how they work for you.

1. Have a dedicated workspace or home office

“Minimize potential distractions. If you have a private space you can dedicate to work, do it. If you don’t — use headphones. ” Dan Marshall

“Create a dedicated space for working – this helps reinforce that you’re “at work” and not just on the computer at home.” David Bloxsom

“Make sure your workspace works for you and feels good. Good lighting, proper desk space, with a nice view will make all the difference.” Thomas McCall

2. Stick to your morning routine

“Do all the things you would do before getting into the car or leaving the house to start your commute (have breakfast, get dressed, etc ) before your workday starts. This creates a routine and gets you moving and your brain ready for the day.” Hannah Barganier

“Get out of your pajamas!” Matt Accardo

3. Take a break!

“Don’t forget to give the brain a break. Focus hard for 50 minutes, then take a breather. Get up, walk around, step outside, get some fresh air.” Matt DeVaney

“Step away from the computer after a few hours and walk around your home for a few minutes. Some of my best ideas actually come when I am not sitting at my computer.” Nikki Wolfe

4. Keep your camera on

“I try to always enable video on conference calls, it’s a forcing function to ensure you’ve created a pseudo professional work environment and it helps keep you from feeling isolated.” Amanda Thacker Heidtke

“Use video, even if just to wave hi at the beginning of the meeting. It helps to personalize the interaction.” Jocelyn Bergen

5. Stick to a schedule

“Set boundaries and enforce them – if you’re going to work from 9-5, then stop working around 5 and don’t be tempted to reply to that non-urgent email that comes in at 9pm. Don’t be afraid to experiment – like most things in life, this isn’t a “one size fits all” thing.” David Bloxsom

“Create a daily work schedule and stick to it, don’t get distracted by household chores/tasks.” Amanda Thacker Heidtke

“Stick to a schedule and don’t work outside those hours. Otherwise your home life bleeds into your work life and vice versa.” Dan Marshall

“I calendar constantly, and block out times for leisure activity and protect them.” Jocelyn Bergen

6. Stay present during meetings

“It is so easy to multitask when working remotely because no one can see your screen with 1000 tabs open. Be conscious of the fact that people can tell if you’re distracted, even if they can’t see you multitasking. And mute your phone when you’re not talking.” Melissa Roberts Tims

“As a courtesy, I make sure to review any meeting notes from the organizer ahead of time. I close down everything except our meeting app.” Matt DeVaney

7. Work hard, play hard

“Exercise right after you finish work. That’s how I spend a lot of my evenings, especially if I’ve been at my desk all day.” Adrian Elliot

“Stay in touch with your coworkers via Slack. Crack jokes. Send gifs. A completely serious day is rarely a productive day.” Dan Marshall

“GIFs GIFs GIFs and more GIFs.” Dottie Hodges

8. Connect with co-workers socially

“I really enjoy learning about others’ lives outside of work and keeping that as a thread over time to check in on their interests, families, pets, or whatever it may be. It’s so cool that we’re such a diverse group that can work towards the same goals of serving our clients.” Dottie Hodges

“When starting an internal call, if it’s the first time you are talking to someone that day,

always start by asking how they are doing.” Dan Marshall

“Host a happy hour virtually with your team. Ask everyone to make their favorite cocktail, beer, wine, soda or whatever their drink of choice is. Then get on a video conference call and raise a glass with each other and share nice things or funny things that happened in your home lives. Introduce pets and family members!” James Young

9. Manage your time and stay on top of your to-dos

“I start the week by asking “what does success look like this week” (i.e. what are the 3-5 things that I need to finish.) On Wednesday night, I make my “critical tasks” list – where am I at with my projects and what needs to be done before Friday morning. I keep the lists in Stickies so they’re always visible on my desktop.” David Bloxsom

“On Friday afternoons, I make a list of current project statuses and next week’s to-dos to help me jump back in on Monday morning.” Deb Zwerner

“Stay away from social media. Nothing takes my head out of work mode faster than checking out my Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feeds.” Matt DeVaney

10. Stay motivated

“Music! Since you aren’t in the office, turn it up!” Thomas Mccall

“Checking things off boxes keeps me motivated; I like to use a combo of sticky notes, ToDoistTeuxDeux, and Basecamp for lists.” Jocelyn Bergen

“It’s a hard one but, when faced with a set of tasks, try your darndest to do the least savory task first. You’ll feel so much better and then the rest of the task list feels like a breeze by comparison.” – Dottie Hodges

For more resources on working remotely, check out our March newsletter. Above all, stay safe and healthy.