Millions of people worldwide are adjusting to working from home in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Although this means easy access to the fridge and no commute, it may also mean a completely different lifestyle than what you have become accustomed to, leaving many feeling unproductive and uninspired. So, what can you do to motivate yourself when you’re adjusting to working solo?
The Customer Experience & Innovation team at Hilton shares its top tips on how to optimize your work environment to promote productivity, allow for inspiration and embrace technology and innovation to make valuable connections throughout your workday.
1. Make sure you have the technology and tools needed to collaborate and communicate seamlessly with your team
It is important to find points of connection. Seize the opportunity to connect often with your team, be it through a 15-minute morning catch-up call or a more formalized series of weekly video conferences. Without the regular routine of running into colleagues in the office and setting up group lunches, it can be easy to feel disconnected. This is the perfect opportunity to not only leverage technology to connect on a project but also to establish a more personal connection with other team members.
With that in mind, prioritize the following:
- Amp up the audio: Make sure you have a comfortable headset so you can hear clearly and be heard without distracting background noise.
- Call-in early: Join any work-related call a few minutes early. This will allow you time to overcome potential technical glitches, or give yourself a few minutes to speak one-on-one with the call leader or other members before everyone else dials in. Added bonus: It also helps eliminate the stress of being the “who just joined?” person.
- Be visible: Lighting and backdrops for video calls make a difference, so make sure your face is well-lit. To avoid being backlit and appearing in silhouette, position your camera facing a wall instead of a window. Also, elevate your laptop so you look straight at the camera (rather than having the camera positioned at your neck level).
- Keep it personable: Adjust the distance of your laptop from your face so others can see your facial expressions.
Most importantly, remember that we are all in this together, and it can be valuable to “show yourself” in terms of where you are. You may see family photos, household pets and other personal parts of your colleagues’ homes. These glimpses into the lives of others can help you feel even more connected to your team.
2. Embrace design elements that help you feel inspired and engaged
There are two design elements Hilton uses in communal areas and meeting spaces at Hilton hotels around the world that you can take advantage of to help you feel inspired at home.
First and foremost is biophilia – better known as nature. We all innately want to be outdoors, and we feel inspired and energized by the sensory elements of nature. Do anything you can to bring the outdoors in – from sitting near your favorite window (with natural light) while working on a presentation to arranging some flowers, succulents and other plants to spruce up your work area.
Versatile seating (or standing) furniture is also key. It is helpful to allocate different spaces, as available, for different projects. Knowing your level of needed focus will be different, for instance, if you need to be wildly creative versus analytical. Having at least a couple of different areas for seating and standing will keep your body and brain moving and add some much-needed variety to your workday. In addition to a comfortable seat near a window, a makeshift standing desk using household items or utilizing your kitchen island could give you a space to think on your feet.
When all else fails, lace up your sneakers and go out for a quick walk. Sometimes, the best way to feel inspired is to get some fresh air and a change of scenery.
3. Find new ways to stimulate creativity
Working from home can actually increase productivity. However, this comes at the risk of losing the creativity that results from drawing on the in-person energy of a team and building on each other’s ideas.
Tips to stay inspired include:
- Whiteboard together: Use a virtual whiteboard to kick off a meeting in a creative way. As one idea, have everyone on your team share an image of something in their remote space that helps inspire them, such as an activity they did over the weekend, a place they can’t wait to visit soon or even a person in their family.
- Pump up the jam: Find music that doesn’t have lyrics and use it as background noise for when you are brainstorming or ideating on your own.
- Welcome “lightbulb” moments: Embrace what some refer to as “the shower effect” – the best ideas can come when you’re not thinking about them, like when you’re in the shower. Jotting down your initial thoughts via a quick outline or key bullets and stepping away for a few minutes can lead to more creative thoughts on the project than if you had sat still for that block of time.