Hello again home working!

Once again workers in the UK and many other countries worldwide find themselves following government guidance to work at home in order to minimise the spread of Omicron. Whilst there are undoubtedly benefits to remote working, keeping your spirits up (and connections across your team strong) can be a challenge.  Here are our top 10 tips for thriving through this next period of working at home, based on our experience of running a remote-first community at Obelisk Support.

#1 Stay Human First

For many, one of the upsides of enforced home working in 2020-21 was the sense of camaraderie and the novelty of the glimpses of their colleagues’ lives outside work. Now the novelty has worn off and fatigue is setting in, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop showing an interest in your colleagues and team members. Check in on co-workers, show empathy or offer to arrange a virtual coffee – we need to care about each other more now than ever.

#2 Make time for clowning around

A recent article in the Economist looked at what NASA has learnt about team dynamics in preparation for missions to Mars. The most essential role in a team? The Clown, “a person who is funny and also wise enough to understand each member of the group and defuse tensions.” Laughter is an essential ingredient in teamwork, so build in time for informal conversations, share funnies online and seek out opportunities for laughter, with colleagues or family and friends.

“Laughter, as much as courage, will sustain astronauts on their long quest to Mars.”

The Economist, December 2021

#3 Find a challenge

Fight loneliness by joining or creating a challenge with co-workers. It could be setting up a working group to tackle a particular issue, a fitness challenge (in the Obelisk team, we’re currently doing a virtual walk to Amsterdam) or a fundraiser.

#4 Look for the positive

Make time every day to list reasons to be grateful. However small they are, they are there if you look hard enough. Appreciating what you have, rather than focusing on what you’re missing, will make life more enjoyable.

#5 Pay something back

If working from home has meant you’ve lost the commute, use some of the money or time you’ve freed up to give back. Donate to a charity, volunteer in the community or even do something simple to make a difference, like picking up litter on your morning walk.

#6 Find time for fitness

Speaking of which, don’t let working at home reduce your fitness. Especially in the winter months, it can be hard to motivate yourself to get moving if you don’t need to. Make time for a walk outside at least twice a day, ideally three times. Even if it’s only round the block, it’s essential to keep moving, get a break from your screen and get some daylight.

#7 Mix up your meetings

Over Zoom?  Tired of Teams? You’re not alone. Scientists at Stanford University found that videoconferencing can cause fatigue, due to the unnatural way our eyes and brains behave if we spend excessive amounts of time on the screen. Break up communication by mixing your media – use phone calls, DM/chat platforms such as Slack or send voice messages. If you have to be on back-to-back calls, the team at Stanford recommend minimising the size of the other participants on your screen and switching off the pane that reflects your face back to you once you’re happy others can see you on screen.

#8 Use your space wisely

Obelisk Support’s own Lola Moses helped us understand the importance of making the most of your space back in Lockdown One. Her top tip is to move around your space throughout the day. Even if your options are limited, small changes such as sitting at a different place at the table to eat and to work can make a difference to your mood.

#9 Fake your commute

If you miss the separation between work and home, then put a fake commute into your day. You might have a natural reason to get out, like the walk to pick up from your childminder, or you might have to create a new routine. Either way, signalling that it’s the end of the working day will make it easier to switch off and rest in the evening.

#10 Welcome new colleagues

Joining a team that’s working remotely can be hard. We advised legal leaders to pay particular attention to onboarding new colleagues back in 2021. Whether you are a line manager or co-worker, take extra time to support new members of the team. Explain things more thoroughly than you would in the office, take some time to get to know their interests and life outside work and be patient as they learn the ropes.

2022 doesn’t have to be 2020-too

Working remotely offers us greater flexibility, time back in our day from commuting and time to focus away from distractions. Managing and working in a hybrid or remote team can be more challenging in some ways but offers huge business benefits in terms of increased employee engagement, satisfaction, access to a wider talent pool and greater productivity. Turn our tips into habits to help you enjoy the benefits and keep your motivation high.


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