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Work from home tips from experts

As the coronavirus forces millions of people to make drastic changes in their daily routine, everyone is starting to adapt to a new way of life. While most of these changes are unwelcome inconveniences, requiring us to distance ourselves from friends and family, it’s not all bad news. For many office workers around the country, working from home has become a new reality. To prevent the virus’s spread in the workplace, thousands of employees across a variety of industries are transitioning to remote work.

For those fortunate enough to work in a field that can be done remotely, this newfound freedom can be seen as one of the pandemic’s only silver linings. But before you get too excited at the idea of staying in bed and watching Netflix all day while you “work,” you should know that remote requires just as much, if not more, focus than an office environment. And for those not familiar with the lifestyle, it can be a tough adjustment.

Thankfully, here at Matador Network, we’re uniquely qualified to offer advice. Since its inception 14 years ago, Matador has always been a fully remote team. And we’re no small group — dozens of full-time staff members are spread across the globe, and a ridiculous amount of time zones, constantly coordinating meetings and production — and staying relatively sane along the way. So to help get you through the foreseeable digital future, we’ve sourced our most helpful tips, tricks, and strategies from the team. And who knows? Maybe this will help convince your company that location-independent jobs are the way of the future.

Stick to your routine, or make a new one

“The bare minimum for not feeling like a gross human being: switch from your night pajamas to your day pajamas, brush your teeth and wash your face.” — Alyssa Derby, Director of Social Media

“If it’s not too cold where you live, have your breakfast outside. Sit on your balcony, your deck, in your yard, etc. and enjoy 20 minutes outside, taking in some fresh air with your cup of tea/coffee. You may not have the time to do that later in the day, and it’s a nice, refreshing way to get started. You can do that with your lunch break, too.” — Morgane Croissant, Executive Producer & Culture Editor

“Prepare food, like your lunches, as if you’re at the office, and continue other routines. All of us work-from-homers have definitely had a couple Skype calls in our pajamas, but getting into some more presentable clothes helps you switch gears.” — Ryan Dury, Designer & Developer

“I like to set up my workstation in an open space with lots of natural light, so as not to feel too cloistered. Whether at home or at an office, I find sitting all day takes its toll. So, I take plenty of stretching breaks. I also go for a walk around the block midday to get some air and sunlight.” — Rob Chursinoff, Video Editor

“Go somewhere else for lunch. Ok, right now you can’t just walk down to the local Korean taco truck, but maybe make lunchtime the time you go sit in your backyard, on your balcony, or get on-the-go with a walk around the block.” — Mattew Meltzer, Senior Staff Writer

Set boundaries, for yourself and others

“Snooze your notifications past a certain regular hour, but understand that just because people are messaging you, doesn’t mean you need to respond straight away or outside of your hours. People may be working in different time zones, or just finding their own balance in their schedule. Snoozing your notifications allows the other person to know you will respond in due time. And don’t you dare hit the button that says ‘send notification anyway.’” — Laura Reilly, Director of Editorial

“Separate your workday from your personal time. I do this by having a hard activity after closing my laptop for the day, like going on a hike, or pouring a cocktail and drinking it outside on the porch. This helps me do a “mental reset” when it’s not possible to have a change in a physical location.” — Tim Wenger, Associate Outdoors Editor

“Set boundaries if your significant other/roommates/friends/whoever are also working from your home. It’s not necessary to talk about every latest push alert or update.” — Nickolaus Hines, Food and Drink Editor

“It may be five o’clock for another member of your team, but seriously, do not start drinking before 5:00 PM, and definitely not until the laptop is completely shut.” — Laura Reilly

“Do not, under any circumstances, view any ‘adult content’ on your computer while you’re working. Treat your working-from-home computer like you would your in-office work computer.” — Matthew Meltzer

Tools for productivity and efficiency

“Try things like the Pomodoro timer if you’re finding yourself getting distracted, or a Chrome extension to limit how much time you get to spend on social websites.” — Ryan Dury

“I’ve found the best method is to work in timed blocks based around Spotify playlists. So, for example, I’ll have a 50-minute playlist of calming music and, when that ends, I’ll take a 10-minute break away from the computer to read a book or magazine, make a snack, or play with my pups. Then repeat.” — Nickolaus Hines

“Install an app like Boomerang on your Gmail account to block emails from coming in for set periods of time so you can focus on bigger projects without constantly getting pulled away.” — Tim Wenger

“For anyone in a managerial role, set clear internal communication guidelines, and stick to them. Whether it’s Slack, G-Chat, or email, don’t be afraid to be the person who steps in and politely asks for people to refrain from replying-all to a full-team email. Keep discussions threaded. Tell people to mute themselves on conference calls. Remind people if they are getting off track from work communication channels. Set up some optional social threads for things like pet photos or TV show recommendations to avoid cluttering the work discussions, and redirect conversations to the right place. Be polite, but be firm. And if your manager isn’t setting these guidelines, privately suggest it to them that you think it would be helpful for the team.” — Laura Reilly

“Tell your team ahead of time if you want a meeting to be a video call instead of audio — to allow them to both mentally and physically prep (see day pajamas above).” — Alyssa Derby

For parents

“Make the most of nap time! Our son is at an age where he may get three or four one- to two- hour naps during our set work hours. We try our best to work in the window of 7:00 AM-5:00 PM, but depending on our diligence and workload, it can spill over into some evenings, and that’s okay — but we try not to make it a habit. Honestly, if you can, start earlier so you can get free time that lets you enjoy the daylight and get outside.” — Jessica Berdeau, Branded Video Editor

Self-care and mental health

“Take a workout break. It stretches out your sitting muscles, gets you breathing more, and keeps your eyes and mind focused on something that has nothing to do with the piling box of emails.” — Matthew Meltzer

“Shower on your lunch break. Especially if you’re not an early riser, there is no better feeling than being able to shower on your lunch break — and that includes napping. And if you must nap, don’t overdo it, and don’t even think about not setting an alarm.” — Laura Reilly

“People think the challenge of working from home is getting distracted, but I’ve found it’s the opposite — getting fully sucked into my work. Without natural social distractions surrounding you, you may find the day flying by and you haven’t moved. Set timers or reminders for small moments to stretch, get the mail or put the dishes away.” — Alyssa Derby

“Accept that you will never be “finished” and walk away — this goes for work tasks and home chores, which can start to mix together throughout the day. There will always be something new to get ahead on or something old to tie up, but at some point, give yourself the permission to veg out on the couch and relish in the feeling of being unproductive. Leave that last email unopened and that last dish in your sink!” — Sarah Nauer, Manager of Studios Production

“When you work from home, you don’t get the same level of daily socialization that you do in an office environment — especially in the era of social distancing. That’s why you should plan your social events in advance to ensure you have something to look forward to when the clock strikes 5:00 PM. Whether it’s going for a short hike with a friend, planning a virtual Netflix party, or having a group wine tasting via Skype, an active social calendar goes a long way toward curing your sense of isolation — even during the era of social distancing.” — Eben Diskin, Staff Writer

“Enjoy it. Working remotely is a 21st-century luxury, and if you’re lucky enough to be able to do so, especially in the current situation, then you should certainly dedicate yourself to being productive and working hard from home — but you should also enjoy the small perks, like working in your most comfortable clothes, having zero commute time or cost, and having a private bathroom.” — Cody Doucette, Director of Studio Operations

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