Everyone is asking me about remote work right now. I just spoke with a CIO who is deploying 5,000 laptops to employees who have never needed one before. COVID-19 is forcing many folks to adjust. Since Aha! has always been an entirely distributed company, people are naturally curious to learn how our team moves so fast and efficiently. Yes, our teammates all work remotely — but there is also a new challenge for us too.
How do you stay productive working remotely when family members are also home with you?
Aha! was founded on the premise and promise of remote work. Our team of nearly 100 works across six countries and 78 cities. We are experts at serving our customers, communicating with teammates, and accomplishing our daily tasks — all from the comfort of our home offices. But even we are in uncharted territory due to the social distancing in place across the world.
We are all doing our best each day to continue working while managing our other responsibilities — physical health, mental well-being, and family.
With many businesses and schools shuttered for the foreseeable future, there is the added stressor of having family members home with us at all times. Our team at Aha! is experiencing this as well — roommates, partners, spouses, and children are now part of our work day. There are more distractions and demands on our time than ever before. I know many of you are in a similar situation. So I asked the team for their advice on balancing working from home with family obligations. Here are some of their tips:
“My husband typically works in a co-located environment, so we have never had to navigate each other’s work schedules before. I brought out a whiteboard from the garage so that we can track our daily meetings to avoid interrupting each other. We update it throughout the day as plans change and keep it in a central hallway.” — Molly Jane Quinn
“If you need to go into the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee or water, take an extra few minutes to say hi and ask how everyone’s day is going. Then say ‘Ok, I’m going back to work now.’ This helps create and enforce boundaries while still making the most of small moments with family around.” — Austin Merritt
“If you have young kids and a working partner, try to figure out a shift schedule and adjust your meetings accordingly. It will help everyone’s mental health to be devoted to either work or family needs during your designated times.” — Nicole Knipp Wosje
“I have three kids at home right now, so I created a detailed hour by hour schedule for them. I wrote it out and posted it on the fridge so everyone knows what to do each day and what is expected of them. I built in breaks and snack times and they each have their own area to do schoolwork.” — Ashley Thompson
“Let your colleagues know when you need to step away for more than a few minutes and when to expect you back. It is important that you are as predictable and reliable as possible for your team. And that if you cannot be, you communicate it clearly.” — Kelly Sebes
“Explain to others at the start of a work call that unplanned interruptions may unintentionally occur. And if a loved one does end up walking in during a meeting, do not panic. Take a moment and introduce them to your teammates.” — Erik Johnson
“My wife and I are sending our kids outside to play at different points throughout the day. This gets them out of the house, keeps them engaged in fun activities, and gives me quiet time to focus on work.” — Percy Hanna
“When things are stressful, it is easy to be short with each other. My daughter’s preschool teaches kids to stop, take a deep breath, and relax when they are feeling upset. My wife and I practice this as well — it is amazing how much relief deep breathing can provide.” — Todd Meyer
“Be kind to yourself when you feel like you are struggling to do it all. Instead of suppressing your emotions, share your concerns and challenges with your teammates. Ask for help and offer it when you can. This way, everyone can support one another.” — Claire George
“We each have a dedicated work space. I take the office and my husband takes the bedroom. It helps us not feel on top of each other. We also text each other before starting a meeting so the other can be mindful of noise.” — Ashley Borg
We are in the midst of an unprecedented situation — one that requires all of us to be flexible, caring, and patient.
No one knows how long this will last. All we can do is take it day by day. Yes, it can be stressful to juggle regular work with a full house. But there are also benefits to having your loved ones close by.
It is especially comforting for young children to spend more time with you during these challenging times. Try to cherish those moments of small joy throughout the day. And do your best to stay healthy and hopeful.
What are your tips for working from home?
Work anywhere and be happy. Aha! is hiring right now.