I established Sunbowl in 2009 during the last major economic recession because I wanted the freedom to work from anywhere in the world. Fast-forward to 2020 and Sunbowl has grown into a company comprised solely of remote workers. I want to share some tips, tricks, and tools for all who've found themselves working remotely in light of COVID-19.
Working Environment & Processes
Setting up a proper work area with a desk and supportive chair is fundamental for success. A kitchen counter is all right for the first day or two, but soon your back will be killing you. The couch is appealing too, but not a good ergonomic fit either. Invest the time and money in getting a proper work area. Of course, with social distancing and self-isolation in effect right now, this may not be very easy to achieve, so do your best to find the most suitable spot for your needs in the meantime.
Starting the Day Off Right
Make your bed. It's a small, simple way to kickstart your morning on a good note.
Get dressed as if you were going to the office. This helps put you in the professional mindset required to keep focused. Our Community Manager, Liz, has other ideas about this and likes this article:
I like to start our mornings at Sunbowl with a Zoom check-in call with the management team. I have found that these quick early meetings bring some stability to the day and helps everyone with focussing on their daily tasks. I know that so many meetings should be emails, but it's also helpful to have some social connection while isolated.
It's easy to overwork yourself when you have no distinct end to your workday. Set yourself a calendar reminder to tell you when it's time to stop working. I found that adding an appointment at 5:00 pm to tell me it's time to quit for the day provides me with a necessary boundary to help with my work-life balance.
Pace yourself. You may find that you are thriving in your new work environment, and it can seem like anything, and everything can be accomplished, but it is essential to be mindful of overworking. Burn out is a very real thing and often comes at the most inconvenient of times. When it happens, it's tough to re-motivate yourself. Take breaks, go for a walk, and get some exercise throughout the day to stay balanced.
WiFi (of course!)
It is important to understand the difference between 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi: 5GHz allows for more data but has a shorter range, whereas 2.4GHz has a longer range but may struggle with large downloads and HD video content. If you're close to the router, go with 5GHz. If you're in another area of the house, 2.4GHz may be a better option.
In situations where WiFi is unavailable, we sometimes need to work on a mobile hotspot or an expensive, limited network. Unfortunately, there are some programs and applications that synchronize and update in the background, which then chews through your data plan very quickly! Tripmode allows you to restrict which apps have access to the internet while you are not on WiFi. It also remembers the settings for each network, enabling you to see how much data is used per app and set limits on how much can be used. No more overpaying for data packages!
Google Drive (https://www.google.com/drive)
Google Drive is a free cloud-based software suite that includes a word processor, spreadsheet program, slideshow creator, file storage, and much more. Multiple people can work on documents at the same time, and all changes are saved automatically. We recommend downloading the app to ease the file organization process.
Slack is an all-in-one instant messaging communication tool. Many organizations use this already, but it can be especially helpful when everyone is working remotely. Organizing departments and projects into individual channels keep things ordered and easy for everywhere to see where they need to work. Additionally, there are a plethora of applications to install directly to help simplify processes and keep everything on the platform. A couple of our favourites include:
Zoom is an all-in-one video solution for meetings, webinars, conference rooms, phone systems, and instant messaging. In light of COVID-19, Zoom has disabled cloud recording to enable more bandwidth for its users. If you need to share the video, you can download it to your computer and upload it to YouTube to share it with your organization.
Krisp is an AI-driven noise-cancellation software used to limit invasive background noise (kids, dogs, construction, etc.) during calls.
We have been using video to explain and show our work for over a decade. This app lets you do the same without any complex or expensive software. Just install, click, and record!
A pair of noise-cancelling headphones is helpful when trying to limit external distractions. I use and love the Bose QuietComfort 35's.
Home Office Furniture
Mobiler Furniture - Home and Office