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Quick Tips: Save Time When Working from Home

by Michael Premo, Senior Content Manager

More people are working from home than ever before. The team at Pinstripe Marketing have been doing it for years and truly appreciate the flexibility it gives us. But, there are things at home that occasionally keep us from doing our work efficiently. That’s why we need to be more aware of our time when we’re away from the office.

Mimic the Office

Your home is just like an open-plan office, filled with the same distractions and strains on your productivity. Research shows that open spaces don’t work—for collaboration or productivity. Though isolating and restrictive offices and partitioned workspaces provide the distancing required to stay focused and keep on task. Let’s take a look at some quick tips to save you more time when working from home.

Discover Your High Productivity Hours

We generally know when these are at work, but at home, those hours may be different. Once you figure them out, you’ll know how to structure your day.

Set Real Work Hours

Real work hours are typically when everyone is at work or bankers’ hours. But, there’s wiggle room when working from home. So, you should align your hours with everyone else while keeping those high productivity hours in mind.

Don’t Work in Your PJs

Even if you never leave the house, you should dress for work as if you were in an office. This gets you into the right mindset and ability to handle video conferences that simply pop up during the day.

Routine

Having a routine will prepare you for what’s next. A morning routine to start your day, as well as an afternoon routine to prepare for your family before they get home.

Set Alarms

Alarms will help you stick to your routine. In the office, people moving about can provide cues for lunch or the afternoon coffee break. At home, you’ll probably be more open to working through those times of day, even though it’s really important that you take them.

Take Breaks

Short breaks increase productivity. Walking away from your home office for five minutes will help you plan for what’s next.

Run Errands During Lunch Break

The best part about working from home is the flexibility it gives you. But, the errands you have to run may get in the way. That’s why it’s better to schedule appointments and run errands during your lunch break as if you were at the office. Stepping away during your day breaks routine and disrupts regular working hours.

Check-in with Coworkers More

Try to keep in touch with your team as much as possible. If you haven’t touched base as much as you would have in an office, then you should reach out and at least say, “Hello.” If you don’t, then every interaction will only be about business. This is where interpersonal relationships breakdown.

Stay Away From Social Media

It’s a colossal waste of time unless you’re managing an account for the business. Research has shown how the pull of social media during work hours kills productivity.

Having a flexible schedule gives us the work-life balance we need. Without it, we’re more prone to stress and other adverse effects that stifle productivity and creativity.

Successfully working from home requires a lot of patience, empathy and communication. At Pinstripe, we understand how difficult working from home can be. If you have any advice or stories to share, we’d love to hear from you, so send us an email.

Quick Tips: How to Manage Expectations and Reduce Conflict When Working from Home

by Michael Premo, Senior Content Manager

During this unprecedented time, millions of Americans have been ordered to work from home. Sure, we’ve all had to work from home for a day or two, but not weeks on end. Plus, the kiddos were always in school, so there were far fewer distractions. All of it just adds to the general anxiety and stress of the situation.

This is all so new that you’re probably finding shortcuts and life hacks to get through your day—doing what works with limited resources and a ton of restrictions. You want to be able to perform at your best, but there seem to be obstacles everywhere.

Here are some tips for managing employee expectations, as well as your own. We’ve also included some tips to reduce conflict because you’re not able to sit down with people and have those face-to-face conversations that matter.

 

Expectations

Talk with your supervisor and identify your priorities. What will standing meetings be like? What are their expectations for responses to email, DM, or phone calls? You’ll also need to know the best way to coordinate efforts and track progress. These are only a portion of your expectations.

 

Start with Your Technology

Does your home computer support video conferencing? You may have a laptop from work, but there may come a time when it’s not working correctly, and IT is nowhere to be found. You’ll need to update your home computer to compensate for this. Make sure that video conferencing works, you can share screens, and that you have the latest updates installed.

Do you need an extra screen? Two screens are better than one and improve your productivity. How about your printer? Bandwidth on WiFi? Your kids will probably be online, too. You should check to see if that has any effect on your connections. Together, these are really important to manage your ability to perform and meet your expectations.

 

Children at Home

As a parent, you are facing one of the biggest challenges in your life. For online schooling to be successful, you’ll need to be there for them while they navigate online classes and act as a tutor. This requires you to be as flexible with work as possible. Be realistic with your expectations and communicate your situation with managers. They’ll understand.

There is no striking a balance unless you have a plan in place for their education and entertainment. Their teachers will have a great plan in place. Follow it as carefully as possible and reach out to them for teaching advice when necessary. Books and puzzles are great and limit screen time when it’s absolutely necessary. Video chats and most gaming consoles allow kids to interact while playing together. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than complete isolation.

 

Your Home

A workspace is essential. If you don’t have a home office, make one. Put up boundaries to limit traffic and disruptions. Homemade signs will help.

More time at home means more cooking and cleaning. Get everyone involved. Being a family is a team effort. This is hard to do with young children, but they are capable of doing small tasks. Just ask their teachers. Kids are expected to clean up after themselves at school, wipe down surfaces, even sweep. It won’t be perfect, so try to relax your expectations.

 

Reducing Conflict

Successfully managing conflict is even more difficult if you’re now required to manage teams remotely. With the unique nature of our current situation, conflict is bound to happen at some point. As with any workplace conflict, disagreements and pettiness need to be managed carefully.

Context, nuance, body language, facial expressions, and anything else we use to take cues in face-to-face communication are missing when using text, email, or other forms of electronic communications. Most people hate confrontation. But, there are some telling signs when they get frustrated or feel like they are being treated unfairly.

You’ll see it in a terse email or abrupt conversation over the phone. Also, look for back-and-forth conversations that escalate. You’ll see this, especially with the “blame game.” People sometimes feel less inhibited in what they say when online, so they’re more apt to express harsh opinions that attack personalities. It’s one thing to voice personal frustrations, and another to attack others. If these things arise, you’ll need to stop them immediately.

 

Communication

When you see it, get involved right away. You need to deescalate all conflicts. Even if you’re not their boss, you need to step in and be a neutral party, a mediator to stem any damage the conflict may cause.

If you are in a position to intercede, then take it into a private space where you can acknowledge that there is a problem.  You’ll need to bring them together to define the problem, and each party has a chance to talk about the problem. Your job will be to find commonalities that each side agrees upon, then lay out follow-up actions to bridge their disagreement.

  • Focus on the problem, not the people.
  • Restate each position and offer a solution to their complaint.
  • Keep communicating until a resolution is achieved.

Always be proactive when conflict arises. This will keep it from getting out of control. You’ll find that these issues become opportunities when appropriately harnessed.

Successfully working from home requires a lot of patience, empathy and communication. If you have any advice or stories to share, we’d love to hear from you during this difficult time. We’re in this together, and our community will become stronger because of it.

Quick Tips to Stay on Track with Your Marketing Resolutions for 2020

marketing resolutions_featured

by Michael Premo, Content Strategist

It’s so easy to lose motivation on those marketing resolutions made in January. Problem is that so many things are working against us that we just can’t keep up. This year, you can change that by using a few tips we’ve learned over the years.

Start by Keeping It Simple

Because resolutions are goals, you have to treat them as such. Small, incremental steps are easier to achieve than big ones. Plus, it’s easier to monitor your progress. Smaller objectives lead to big changes, so plot out each milestone.

TIP: To make your resolution easier to achieve, break it down into objectives and milestones.

Let’s say that your resolution is to improve your digital marketing. Just remember that major changes to any marketing plan or process will take more time, energy and resources. That’s why smaller, more manageable steps will help you stick to your resolution throughout the year.

TIP: Take the time to reflect upon each milestone, so you can make adjustments.

This is simple enough, and you may be doing this already. But, what we fail to do is reflect upon each milestone. How did you get there? What’s next? What needs to change?

Deadlines Are Important to Keep

We all need a little motivation to keep our resolutions. One of the best ways to do that is by setting a deadline and sticking to it. No one likes the word—deadline—but it makes your resolution a priority. Any task, goal, or change without a deadline will get ignored or pushed away for other, more important tasks. Add these deadlines to your calendar.

TIP: Set a deadline to keep yourself motivated.

These are small changes, so the deadline shouldn’t feel like a weight around your neck. A deadline makes it important. Be realistic with your deadlines. If it needs to be adjusted, don’t beat yourself up over it. That just causes more anxiety.

TIP: Be realistic about your deadlines and adjust them when necessary.

Ask for Help

Your support network is critical to your success. Be open and honest with your coworkers and supervisors. This also works as motivation to follow through with your plan because you’ve made it public.

TIP: Let your coworkers and supervisors know about your resolutions.

Letting them know about your resolutions will allow them to serve as a support group, plus it gives you someone to reach out to for help or mentoring. Too often, we feel like we are on our own, which leads to apathy and even anxiety. When you share your struggles and successes, you make the journey that much easier.

TIP: Ask for help when you need it.

This will strengthen your relationships at work and build up resilience within your network. Following through on your resolutions for 2020 will build your confidence and strengthen your skill sets.

At Pinstripe, we strive to improve ourselves every year. That’s what keeps us creative—thinking of new and exciting projects for our clients. Our creative team consists of listeners and discoverers that have an innate ability to help you achieve your vision. We are part of your support network, so feel free to reach out to us with any help you need to keep those resolutions.