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Remaining a Team: How We’re Working from Home

D Custom Working From Home

Working from home has become the new daily routine for millions of people around the world in the past few weeks. Adapting to this new reality is easier for some businesses (and individuals) than it is for others.

While staying productive, positive, and collaborative while in isolation is challenging, right now it’s more necessary than ever.

Related: No matter where you are, working 9-to-5 is easier when you’re driven by a purpose.

Despite everything going on in the world, our team has rallied to remain just that: a team. For anyone struggling with the adjustment, here are some insights from a remote, yet unified, D Custom.

Michaela Brandt — Digital Media Strategist

“When we were told that we’d be working from home indefinitely, I was torn between two reactions: ‘Oh man, this is scary, and I’ll miss my coworkers’ and ‘Woohoo! More time at home, less time commuting!’ After a week of working remotely, it’s been mostly better than I anticipated. We’re still being strategic partners for clients, pitching new business, and staying creative from home.

I do miss actually seeing my coworkers, but the team has remained collaborative: Conference calls and screenshares have kept us efficient. I’ve even noticed myself working a little longer every day because I don’t have the disruption of commuting to and from work (plus I’m running out of things I want to do at home).

I’ve heeded the advice of many ‘WFH warriors’ who recommend taking short breaks, getting ready for the day instead of working in your PJs, and having a designated space to work. So, I get online between 8:30 and 9 a.m. and work diligently until 5:15 to 6 p.m.

Although things are a bit hard and weird right now, I’ve been trying to remember the things I complained about a few weeks ago — commute traffic, not having enough free time, the impending summer when my husband is gone on a ton of trips, my dog Moose being anxious because we’re gone too much, etc. — and be thankful that those aren’t issues right now, that I’m getting to spend time at home. It doesn’t make everything better and it doesn’t bring back some of the things we’re losing (like NHL games and flights to see loved ones) … but it does put things into perspective and help me stay joyful amid the craziness.”

Veronica Buehnerkemper — Operations Manager  

“Working from home full-time has certainly been an adjustment, but every day I find ways to fine-tune my routine. A few of my ‘must-haves’ include a workspace with a second screen and office chair, starting every morning with coffee and the Bobby Bones Show while mapping out my day, connecting with a few coworkers to catch up on work and life, and scheduling time to step away from the computer at lunch or the end of the day to walk my dog, Piper. I love the extra time with my pup and less time in the car. But I miss seeing my coworkers every day!”

Annie Wiles — Senior Editor

“I feel like I’ve trained for this, since I used to live on a 62-foot sailboat with 10 people. I’m familiar with the isolation and sometimes-madness of days on end at sea. (Hello, bird, you are my best friend now — oh OK, bye.) And I know this loss of normalcy can be hard. The normal world might feel far away. If you’re vulnerable to this, I definitely don’t recommend watching the Tiger King, since you’ll start wondering if all your memories of the outside world were ever real.

At sea, we entertained ourselves by doing things like starting religions (all hail the great coconut god), getting the captain to marry us (don’t worry, it’s only legal in Panamanian waters … I think), and naming the spiders who managed to stow away (Tim!). On land, in a pandemic, you just have to keep doing all the normal life stuff — except, of course, that life isn’t normal. And that’s much harder.

But there’s a sort of communal stoicism that comes from crisis. We’re all in the same boat (ha). We’re experiencing that in the world at large and also in our own team. We’re all doing a little extra, video chatting instead of emailing (human faces are great!), and spending time thinking about our clients, what they’re going through, and how we can be helping them get through it.

So whatever your daily routine is (I vote for exercise, yoga, vitamin D, and cats), my best advice is to do whatever works for you and know that even if you are alone and you haven’t seen other people in many days, and you’re naming spiders, we are all alone together. Which is kind of cool.”

Cory Davies — Director of Client Services

“Every morning I shower and get dressed like I normally would before work. Keeping my regular morning pre-office routine helps get my mind ready for work even when I’m not actually going into the office. My workstation at home is a big, comfy chair at my dining room table with plenty of space for my laptop, phone, notepads, and any printouts I’m currently working on. Good overhead lighting is also an important element.

Of course, being separated from coworkers can be a challenge. Some meetings are just more effective when done face-to-face. The lack of direct contact with colleagues can make you feel isolated and less in-the-loop. But conference call bridge lines that record the conversation, shared screen platforms like GoToMeeting, and instant messengers like Microsoft Teams are great tools for keeping us connected — especially since we can chat with multiple colleagues at once.

On the bright side of things, no commute and no dress code mean more time in the morning to exercise, walk the dog, and deal with things around the house prior to getting to work. Plus, lunch is only as far away as your kitchen or your front door, if you opt for delivery.”

Jonathan Silverberg — Art Director

“Working from home can be a challenge, but it’s important to set boundaries for yourself. Have a clear area in your home where you do your work. Going to and leaving this area at designated times will help you separate work from life.

It’s good to get up and step away for a little bit if you have an opportunity, and then come back to your workstation when needed. For my breaks, I usually try to step away from my desk, read the news, or look through my blinds at the outside world. Much like this.

This is my workstation. It isn’t much, but it’s separated from the rest of my home, which helps me maintain a healthy work/life balance.

Another piece of advice: Be sure to have a set start and stop to your day. The set stop is especially important. For me, it’s extremely easy to continue working until I look at the clock and, oops, it’s already 8 p.m. Set a stop time so you can relax, decompress, and get ready for the next day.

As for the perks of working from home, I get to blast my music as loud as I want. I also get to drink my own coffee and hang out with my cat!”

Parker Peterson — Creative Director

“The beauty of working in an agency is that we can do our jobs from anywhere: Most of our day-to-day tasks don’t necessarily rely on being in the office with each other. I can do my work from my home workstation, which is comprised of my MacBook, an external monitor, and some decent speakers playing my day-to-day jams: lo-fi hip hop and jazz vibes.

Since I usually commute to the office, I’m gaining an average of 1.5 to 2 hours a day, which allows me to get more reading and exercise in. When my wife and I got wind of this whole situation, we ordered a spin bike and it’s been our saving grace. It’s what I’m doing to relieve stress, fill my lunch hour, and just stay sane overall. I try to take walks with the pup too if I really want to step away.

My best advice: Keep a routine, limit your time on social media, and exercise to keep those endorphins going.”

Patrick Reardon — Managing Editor 

“Unlike most of my coworkers, I don’t have any pets or kids at home — but I’ve got three roommates and, really, is there any difference? With the four of us working under the same roof, it’s incredibly easy to get distracted. On Day 5 of WFH, we imposed a mandatory ‘quiet time’ from 8 a.m. until about 4 p.m. This means headphones in, phone calls outside or in your bedroom, and breaks where you won’t be a disturbance. Unsurprisingly, sticking to these guidelines immediately boosted our focus and productivity. I can’t recommend it enough.

As an extrovert, it can be challenging to not see my coworkers while working with them. But thanks to communication technology and the upbeat attitude of our team, things have run a lot smoother than I had anticipated. The current situation is a bummer for sure, but it’s encouraging to see how my team (and so many others) are adapting and keeping on with such grace and positivity.”

David Hopkins — Managing Editor

“The best thing about working from home is spending more time with my daughters and my wife. However, the biggest challenge is also trying to get work done with everyone at home. My youngest especially requires a lot of attention. As a result, I do most of my writing and editing at night when they’re asleep. On the bright side, before I started agency work, I was a full-time freelancer. So, I’m familiar with working from home — and I have a good set up.”

Kylie Valigura — Art Director

“My favorite perk of working from home is no commute. I’ve been using that time in the mornings and afternoons to walk the dog and do some yoga to jumpstart my day in a different way. Indie, my terrier poodle, is enjoying it as well!

My best advice for effectively working from home is to find a routine that works for you and stick to it. I keep my routine super simple by making my coffee and lighting a workspace candle every morning. It helps get me in a productive mindset and makes my desk an enjoyable place to be.”

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