Working from Home During the Pandemic; What We Learnt as a Team

by Rachel Hayes

Like most companies, the team at tictoc have been working from home while the country is in lockdown. As we approach the 6 month mark, we’re discussing what we’ve learnt as a team working from home during the pandemic, sharing what we have found to be the pros and cons of home-working and our top tips for staying productive.

Benefits of Working from Home

We asked the team what they’ve enjoyed about working from home over the past few months and the 10 most common answers were:

  1. Saving on petrol or train tickets
  2. Not being part of the commuting rat race
  3. Staying in bed that little bit longer in the mornings
  4. Being able to make use of your home office that sits empty ordinarily
  5. Wearing your comfiest clothes
  6. Avoiding the temptation to nip out for lunch or a coffee, which can quickly add up
  7. Being in control of music - whether instrumental, pop, rock or no music at all - the choice is ours
  8. Not having to hunt for parcels in “safe places” or make trips to the post office depot
  9. Spending more time with loved ones
  10. Doing things we enjoy during our lunch break or as soon as we sign off from work

That being said, we’ve also come to learn that being home ALL the time does have its challenges. In particular, we have found ourselves trying to be everything at once. We’ve found ourselves becoming dog walkers, child minders, teachers, chefs and cleaners all whilst juggling a full day of work.

Read on to find out what else we have learnt over the past few months and what our tips are for developing good remote-working habits.

Staying Connected Is Key

It goes without saying that one of the main learnings is the importance of staying connected. Continuous and effective communication is fundamental to any organisation when it comes to reaching goals. With the sudden change in working conditions, companies have been forced to embrace virtual collaboration. User mapping workshops, industry events and being able to simply walk over and ask someone a quick question all seem like a distant memory. As we navigate new ways of connecting with one another, video calls and instant messengers have become our new best friend.

Working From Home - Zoom Call

A Daily Routine Is Important

We’ve learnt that maintaining a routine is key. Who else is beginning to actually miss going for the train in the morning, seeing the usual suspects on your route to work and dropping in to your favourite coffee spot on the way? Rolling out of bed minutes before you’re due to start and slipping into your comfy clothes may be ideal in the short-term but we’ve learnt that to stay productive, sticking to some sort of routine is best. Having routine and structure in our lives can lead to increased effectiveness and eliminate feelings of stress (particularly during times of uncertainty), and so it’s a no brainer when it comes to ensuring a good working day.

Working From Home - Routine

Human Interaction Is Beneficial

A big miss to the tictoc team is of course the social aspect of office life. For many people, coming in to work and seeing colleagues is their main source of daily human interaction. Getting to know our local couriers was pleasant at first, and in the depths of lockdown it was nice to see a face outside of our own bubble; however, as online ordering has become more of a staple in our lives, another challenge we have found ourselves being faced with is having to get up to answer the door just as we get into the flow of something.

A Dedicated Work Space Is Crucial to Productivity

While working virtually has become second-nature, we’ve found ourselves faced with the challenge of where to work around our homes. We have taken for granted the ease of coming in to the office and sitting down at a designated work desk. With multiple house-members at home (including children) and limited space, finding a quiet spot to create the perfect work setup for the day is far from easy - especially when you are on a video call in the kitchen and somebody decides they are hungry.

Working From Home - Girl

Setting Goals Helps to Curb Procrastination

A few years ago, we changed the way that we work at tictoc and said goodbye to scheduling. In short, we moved from a push system to a pull system which meant that members of the team could choose a task from a list that was waiting for action, rather than waiting to be assigned a task by the project management team. This gave more control to members of the team and made us far more efficient across the company.

This agile working method is still in place today and we use an online project management system which has been a saving grace during lockdown. To complement this, many of us still put pen to paper and write daily to-do lists and set goals for ourselves. Not only is it satisfying to cross things off a list but it helps us avoid the gravitational pull towards procrastination.

Our Working From Home Tips

Taking into consideration everything we’ve learnt, we’ve compiled a list of our top tips for developing good remote-working habits and getting the most out of home-working:

  • Communicate - Collaboration is even more important than usual when you’re working from home. Stay connected with your coworkers throughout the day by putting processes in place for sharing work, ideas and feedback. Check-in regularly with team members and arrange video calls for more detailed discussions.
  • Create a dedicated workspace - To add some structure to your day, set up a designated home-working space. Not only will this help you to separate your work from your personal life, but having an area dedicated to working can help to ensure you are productive during work hours and makes it easier to switch off at the end of the day.
  • Set boundaries to stay focused - Once you have your office space set up, we've found it helpful to treat it the way we do working in our main office. Background music (working on your own? Time for some Disney!), keeping the TV off (as tempting as daytime TV is), and the aforementioned to-do list are all methods we've found work for us. Finding what works for you is key.
  • Maintain a routine - Stay organised by sticking to your normal workday routines; set an alarm, get up, dressed and make yourself a tea/coffee before sitting down to work. Remember to take a break from your screen too - sometimes it can be hard to step away from your work once you’re in the zone. We have found that exercising during our lunch break gets us moving and helps us reset.

Working From Home - Music

We’ve learnt that while working from home offers many benefits, it certainly comes with its own set of challenges too. With home-working looking set to become part of the norm for many, we hope that taking these tips on board will help you remain focused and productive! For more industry tips, visit our blog.