Introverts love it and extroverts hate it. Until they get a taste of it. Digitalization brought working from home to the next level. Some big companies have up to three days of working from home, and smaller companies are catching up faster than you’d think.
A Fractl recent study is placing working from home in the top benefits employees appreciate at a workplace. This, combined with the fact that 90% of the managers agree their employees are instantly more productive once they are given the freedom to choose when and where they work from, makes me wonder why we didn’t do this from the beginning.
I guess there’s a time for everything, and the time for WFH is now. Like it or not, at least temporary, we’re all working from home now, so here’s everything you need to know about it:
What does working from home mean?
You wake up. Make your bed. Drink a coffee in the kitchen and then, instead of dressing up and spending an average of 1 hour in traffic, you switch to your living room where a Marie Kondoed corner awaits. You open your laptop, have a video status meeting with your team. Then you take a 10 minutes break. Work some more. Stretch a little. Finish 3 important tasks. Water the plants. It’s the end of your working day. Forget about another hour in traffic on your way back home. Just go to the couch and open a book. Or play an episode of that new series on Netflix.
Sounds like a dream? Well, it can be if you find the right approach for how to work from home.
Working remotely means digital teams collaborate on projects, are led by team leaders, and work for the achievement of the same KPIs, but from the cozyness of their own homes. And it’s proven that even though they’re working from a distance, remote teams are some of the best options nowadays. Don’t see how this is possible? I collected some insights from real people that have already nailed it when it comes to remote work.
What benefits do work from home pros find in this lifestyle?
Some already found their ways to work from home and they’re seeing big improvements in their lifestyle. We looked at how pros are handling it and what are the main benefits of working from home for marketing teams.
Teams become more independent
Yes, your team still needs a project manager, but working from home will make your team members true autonomous supermonks. They’ll have to practice self-education, deep focus, discipline, and concentration.
Everybody will pay extra attention to details, and they’ll strive to keep in touch with everyone else who’s doing online work from home. They’ll step out of the comfort zone of their JD, and they’ll understand more about the roles of everybody else.
Communication? Has never been more smooth. Leadership will switch from a vertical approach to the horizontal. Buuuuuut, collaboration can suffer a great deal if it’s not handled properly.
There’s more work done while taking advantage of remote work from home
If your marketing team members are not hiding behind procrastination – and if they do, you’ll notice very fast – they’ll actually get more work done without needing overtime. How is this possible? Well, working alone will show you how much time you lose on distractions.
You’ll also learn that notifications are not mandatory and almost nothing needs to be done on the spot. Slack channels, emails, and especially your phone don’t need to be an all times distraction.
Time will get a greater value, and every member will work harder because they will be the only one responsible for their time and projects.
Communication becomes the best tool inside and outside the team
When personal space becomes the workplace for several hours a day, your team will quickly learn to be as savvy as possible. This includes meetings, tools, and other communication channels that don’t tend to exist when working from the same office.
So your marketing team will not only know how to communicate in the name of your brand, but they’ll become experts in communicating inside the team. Not to mention how tech savvy everybody will become.
Employee retention and satisfaction will hit the roof.
Take my personal example if you want: Planable – as an employer and as a tool *wink wink* – is giving me the freedom I’ve never dreamed of having. From projects, to being listened to and taking as much time off as I need, that’s made me a lot more loyal than anything else.
But I have to admit, having the freedom to work from home whenever I feel like without any question is the thing that makes me stay in love with my employer at all times.
Rent and bills money goes to the education budget
When people are willing to work from home, it means you can rent a smaller office (if not eliminate the office entirely), and obviously pay smaller bills. With all the money you save, you can treat your marketing team with books, courses, and even gym subscriptions or company dinners.
Jobs in which you can work from home are rewarding in so many ways! Employees get the chance to work in their own way, and on top of that, they get extra learning perks. Yes, companies, this is what we really want!
Challenges marketing teams face when working from home
The thing is working from home has a lot of benefits, but it can also be challenging at times. Especially when your marketing team is just starting out, there’s going to be a lot of fine tuning. Don’t panic, you’ll find the sweet spot. Here’s three things you can pay extra attention to when your marketing team is working from home.
Losing connection with co-workers
Working at your own pace is a gift that keeps on giving. But working alone can feel like you’re losing contact with your co-workers. It may not feel like it, but some conversations won’t take place anymore. Casual conversations over lunch and breaks, quick brainstormings and meetings won’t feel as natural as when you’re talking face to face.
But every new habit means adjusting, so your team will learn how to adapt.
Clocking out at the right time
Not having a clear separation as commuting to and from work can create a blurred line between personal life and the rest. So yes, when you work remote, you may actually spend more time “at work” than usual. You won’t see co-workers leaving or taking breaks, so you’re alone in deciding these aspects.
This is especially challenging for workaholics. When you know you still got some work to do, you’ll tend to stay at your desk until you finish everything. This is a no-no, so learn how to shut down your laptop.
Technology when working remote
Technology is another tricky part. Because there’s no universal formula for all teams, you have to adapt your tech based on your team’s needs. First, you have to provide full access to every platform, make sure you provide the same level of security as when they work from the office, and so on.
Thanks to cloud technology, there shouldn’t be a huge fuss to switch to online work from home. Pay attention to how things work at the beginning though.
How to help your marketing team collaborate better when working from home
As I mentioned above, there’s going to be some fine tuning at the beginning of your remote collaboration. And every team can make this process go smoothly if they start with a set of rules. Here’s some examples:
Face-to-face interaction in video calls is mandatory. Emails and Slack channels are not enough to feed our need of seeing our colleagues. Take 10 minutes at the beginning of every work day and talk about your tasks, feedback and other activities you’re planning.
It may sound like too much, but that’s why you’re a team – to support and help each other at all times.
Set expectations right
Once your marketing team starts working from home, some expectations should be set. Discuss about what everybody has to do (managers and team leaders included). Set tasks and explain why the tasks need to be done.
Talk about how you’ll measure success. It might seem manageable at the beginning, but after everybody becomes autonomous, it will be harder to get a clear overview if you don’t organize from the beginning.
Focus on achieving goals
After you set expectations and goals, it’s time to focus and achieve them. When you work from the same office, you and your team may feel more hands-on in every situation. You see your co-workers, get the chance to ask questions without using technology, and so on. But when some of your teammates work from home, the focus will tend to shift from the hours worked to the actual outcome of their work.
When your marketing team members decide to work from home, try and understand what’s the reason behind it. They’ll get the work done for sure, but they won’t do it in the same way you’re used to from the office. This means productivity will mean something different, and there might not be the case of a 9 to 5 schedule.
Both the manager and the team should stay flexible and understand each other’s needs.
Support each other
There’s nothing new in that: your colleagues become your friends. They’re the ones you meet daily and know everything that’s going on in your life. When you work from home, you may feel like you’re distancing from one another.
Show empathy, talk to each other and share your feelings like you did before. It’s important to know if somebody has concerns or anxieties and to listen to what they have to tell you.
6 Tips & Tricks for marketers that work from home
I’m not an expert, so I asked for some help. 6 marketers told me their best strategies to make the most out of their day-to-day routine.
Create the right ‘state-of-mind’
Habits can help you no matter what environment you’re in. This is also valid when working from home. Find some habits that will put you in the right place and will help you make the difference between personal and professional.
Firstly, it is important to consider that everybody is different. For me, the most important thing is to create the right ‘state-of-mind’ conducive to productivity and that means, following the same wake up routine and wearing my ‘work clothes’. I find this helps get my day going and puts me mentally in the right place to work. Just as important, when finishing work I get changed out of my ‘work clothes’ to symbolise that work has finished so I can start relaxing. It is very easy working from home to always be ‘on’ and in work-mode, this is not good for mental health. – Kar Martin, Freelance Sales & Marketing Consultant
Find your place, make friends with voice messages, and pick a new hobby
You need to have patterns in order to feel consistency in your work. And you also have to bring a part of the office life back to your place. Here’s what Dan White, freelance digital marketing consultant, advises us:
The sofa might look comfy but your back will be broken after sitting on there for a few weeks. Sort out a proper chair/desk combo.
Pick a spot to work from and stick with it. It sounds weird I know but if you work from different places around the house the distinction between the places you relax and the places you work at become much more blurred which makes it harder to relax outside of work hours.
Put the emphasis on spoken comms and reduce email and text. You may hate voicemails normally but hearing someone’s voice via a Whatsapp voicemail or Zoom video chat can make things far less isolating if you’re living on your own.
If you need the sound of people around you to work, but find podcasts too distracting to listen to then I have a weird habit of tuning into random international radio stations. You have no idea what they talk about but the chatter provides some company.
Pick some creative hobby which is in no way related to staring at a screen. Your choice, over what you do but something that’s fun. I’ve been trying to learn German over the past year and while it’s a struggle it takes my mind completely off marketing.
Collaborate with your children and family
Working from home doesn’t mean you work alone. Sometimes your SO is around, sometimes your kids want to play, and sometimes the cats are meowing in the middle of an important call because they forgot you fed them five minutes ago. All living creatures are your partners, so treat them accordingly.
Lucy Hoad, Freelance Marketing Consultant, has two great kids and an awesome husband who became her collaborators:
I am writing this listening to my husband trying to break our three-year-old out of the bathroom he has locked himself into!
Needless to say, juggling work with raising children can be tough at the best of times but throwing the two together can feel like Mission Impossible!
As a Freelancer and Mother of two boys, I am generally still winging it, however there are hacks I have picked up along the way that have really helped. I hope by sharing these, they also prove useful to any parents who will now be in the same boat over the next few weeks.
Firstly, be open and honest with your children. Kids are smart! Have a chat about how excited you are to have this extra time together but explain you also have periods when you will need to get work done. How likely are they to listen? Not much lol, however it’s always good to set expectations from the start.
Wake up early to get some YOU time. Whether that’s going for a morning run/walk, doing an at home work out or taking a bath – this is really important for me and sets me up for the day.
Work in pockets around the kid’s daily routine. For me this means grabbing an hour or so in the morning whilst the boys play with their cars and in the afternoon when we pop a film on.
Kill two birds with one stone, my boys climb the wall if we don’t get out of the house, so often, we combine running errands with some outdoor activities. For example, braving the supermarket to hunt for toilet roll before going for a woodland walk, bike ride or visiting the park.
Set up a Co-Working space for you and the children to work alongside each other. Kids love pretending to be like Mummy and Daddy (even my eight-year-old). Whilst they get some school work done, read or get to work on an activity, you can crack on with an hour’s work.
If you are lucky enough to have a partner also working from home, set up a schedule to give each other some dedicated working time. That way, you both get some quality time with the children, as well as a good chunk of work done.
Make the most of bedtime! If your children are home from school, the evening is likely to be the most productive period you get all day. However, don’t try and work in front of the TV as this is counter-productive. Instead, set yourself a limit of two hours and then leave time to relax before going to bed. Do NOT stay up until 12am working – I have fallen prey to this and promise you it will simply make you less productive and miserable.
Ultimately, working from home with your kids can be manic. I will be taking each day as it comes and making the most of the extra time with them. After all, – before I know it, they will be all grown up trying to get through a global crisis of their own!
Combat challenges with a clear timetable
You’ll sometimes want to vacuum the entire house during working time. Some other days, you’ll feel lonely. You can minimize those distractions by having a clear schedule that separates chores and work. Don’t forget to make socialization part of your schedule.
Here are my main challenges:
You don’t have the creative energy of your colleagues to motivate you.
Isolation can be demoralizing at times and this can decrease your productivity.
If you have a family at home, particularly children, they can be distracting. This can lead to conflict or pressure in your relationships.
Psychologically, it can be hard to motivate yourself when surrounded by your comfy home, surroundings you identify with relaxation and downtime. Hence the need for a separate work space.
Distractions abound, especially if your home is not tidy. The part of your brain that organises your household chores is going to collide with the part of your brain that organises and deals with your work and client projects. This can hit your productivity hard until you learn to cope.
Here are my management tips:
Sounds obvious, but create an office if you do not have one already. You can ‘zone’ an area of your home to function as one. Your kitchen table or couch won’t work in the long run.
Structure is key. Create a timetable, and stick to it.
Start work early. Take advantage of not having a commute by getting up and starting work early. You will find this is a really productive time of day. Plus you can finish earlier. In summer here in Spain I start work at 7 to avoid the heat and by 12 have often completed almost a whole day’s work.
Strike a work/life balance. A cliche, but you are going to find you have more hours in the day. So incorporate a ‘reward’ activity that you cannot do at the office, and that you do at the same time every day either before or during work – a jog, mediation, yoga, playstation, whatever works for you, even if only for ten minutes.
Keep your domestic chores to a minimum, pay for a cleaner or any other help you can afford. Shop online and only receive the deliveries out of work hours.
Politely remind friends and relatives that though you work at home they still need to call before coming round! – Seth Nichols, outreach manager at Kurve
Do nothing for a while
Taking breaks is as important as doing your job right. Don’t forget about them.
A great way to maximize your productivity is to… do nothing.
Take breaks when you can. Allow yourself a few minutes to not think about work.
While you’re away from your desk, blissfully munching on a sandwich or wondering what the hell happened with that last season of Game of Thrones, your brain will work on solutions to your problems.
Constantly working creates fatigue and diminishes output.
So, be more productive! Stop working! Just for a little while. – Jason Hakes, Freelance Marketing Copywriter
Stay sane by adding plants to your workplace
I am not the one with the expertise, but thank God I stumbled upon Ryan McCready’s advice. He is a Senior Content Editor at Venngage.
Coming up on my 6th year of working remotely, here is my advice for staying sane:
Actually get dressed.
Never work from your bed.
Set times that you start & end work.
Overly-communicate with your coworkers.
Jump on a call if needed, context/nuance is lost in text messages.
Write all your tasks down in a notebook and check them off each day.
Add some plants to your office/workspace, it will instantly make it more colorful.
Examples of successful businesses working remotely
I always like to learn from the best, so let’s see some examples of teams that have a history of working remotely.
They made it part of their brand. DuckDuckGo is only hiring remote, and it turns out that they found the secret recipe. They know productivity is personal, and trust their remote team to work wherever, whenever. They’re now on a variety of tech to connect and collaborate across different time zones.
Their favorite word is “flexibility”. They understand that offering flexibility will make your employees loyal no matter where they work from.
Zapier teams have always worked remotely, so we can learn a lot from them. It is a 100% distributed company with over 300 remote employees in 17 time zones and 28 countries. And they’re nailing it.
If you want to know more about how they get work done, here is their story.
Doist is another team that has a long experience with working from home and putting their employees needs on top of everything. They have recently created a guide that comes in handy for social media managers that work from home.
Best tools to use while working from home for marketing teams
When there’s a screen between you and your marketing team, you should use some collaborative tools that help you break any barrier and leave no reason for interpretation. Here’s the top 6 tools we love and think will be helpful when you work from home. But remember: no work from home software is right or wrong. Choose the work from home tools that fit your team’s needs.
Zoom quickly became the best video conferencing tool for any type of team. This reliable platform enables your team to communicate from any device. Online meetings and group messaging have never been easier.
Dare I say, Zoom is so perfect, your meetings don’t need to start with “Can you hear me?” anymore.
I’m sure if you’re already using Slack, you know how smoothly everything goes. But when you’re not in the same room with your team, a lot of live communication moves to written. And this software really knows how to help you keep every topic organized.
My advice for you is to have a team meeting and reshape your channels so you can adapt better to the work from home environment. It will save you a lot of misunderstandings.
And speaking of misunderstandings, if your team is creating social media content, Planable is the best tool to help you collaborate without leaving space for interpretation. We let you create your own workflow, and see everything as it is live. Plan, create, approve, and schedule content in a dedicated environment.
Jackbox.TV has nothing to do with serious business. It is a virtual box of games you can play with your coworkers. This tool will help you stay sane, have fun, take breaks, and remember how competitive you are.
Surprised this is part of the work from home apps? There’s no such thing as work without fun!
Now back to serious tools. If your team is struggling with how to be more productive, it can all start from planning. Having your projects and tasks in one single place and easily collaborating with each other will save a lot of time and headaches.
This is why Sunsama is the best way to plan your workday. Just give it a try.
I love to share my work with my co-workers. Ok, I also share a lot of memes. When we’re at the office, it’s easy to point at my screen and show them what I want to share. But at first I wondered how can I work from home and still share my screen in an easy-peasy way.
Here’s how Loom found its place in my toolstack. With this tool, I can easily record, circle things, and point at my screen. All these while I record my voice – and if needed my working-from-home-no-makeup face.
If you are tired of using multiple apps to manage your tasks, communications, and team meetings while working from home, then ProofHub comes as the perfect solution. This feature-rich project management and team collaboration software lets you and your team stay in ultimate control of your tasks, projects, and communications so that you can work productively.