WFH hacks and tips from our smart and diverse team
Richard – Managing Director:
“When we first got wind of a possible lockdown, we called a full team meeting which turned into a great conversation about the state of our nation and the impact it would have on our staff, their families, our suppliers and our clients. We bounced ideas off each other and came up with a plan to get through this together. There was a wonderful feeling of comradeship, and we reassured all our team that we would do all we could in our power to continue to care for them and their families. We don’t know how long this is going to last, but I’ll tell you one very important thing… keeping in regular contact with your team as they work remotely is vital. In a remote environment, frequency of contact must increase. We know this won’t last forever, there are better times ahead, we just need to keep communicating in the meantime.
Tracy – Project Manager: “ROUTINE! Have a schedule for you and have a schedule for your kids. I can’t stress enough how important this is. (no guessing I’m a project manager huh?!) But it’s so important. Why? Well we all start off with the best of intentions, don’t we? However, as time goes on those intentions start to wane… so set the routines in concrete now. Now is the time to start. Stick to times. Stick to getting the basics done every day. Too much time surfing the net is not good for kids growing brains either so set computer time boundaries as well. Get out of the house, go for walks, yes, even in the rain! Fresh air and the pulse of your foot hitting the footpath has many benefits for your body and mind.”
James – Design technician: “Make sure you set your home office up in a dedicated and comfortable spot. Avoid high distraction areas of your home and if possible, choose a position where you can look out a window or door and where you can get some airflow happening. If you’re like me and you have 3 other WFH people set-up in the same room, dividers are good. Then your parents/ caregivers/ flatmates who have also become your co-workers overnight can at least be out of sight and out of mind while you work! So that’s my top tip #1.
My top tip #2 is more important because I feel like I will survive this WFH phase thanks to an investment I made some months ago. I bought a pair of Beats Studio3 noise cancelling headphones. At the time, the purchase was a guilty ‘want’. As soon as lockdown kicked in, they jumped into the ‘need’ category! I’m so glad I have them! My colleagues and I spend most of our days on video calls so, during the day our house is full of one-sided conversations! So yeah, your semi-permanent office needs to be in a good spot where you can look outside and if possible, shout yourself a pair of noise cancelling headphones and you will survive the WFH season!” *PB Tech, Noel Leeming, or Harvey Norman can deliver items including Headphones to your door during the lockdown because they’re part of the essential services!
Diego – Technical Sales Specialist:
“we’ve being using VC between our offices in Hamilton and Auckland for a couple of years now so you might say we are old hands at using it for ‘team talks’. Initially it can be overwhelming when everyone is busy saying lots of good things. Heres my top tip for easy to understand and productive team meetings… Mute your mic when you’re not speaking! Then it doesn’t pick up every cough and splutter – but, (Top tip #2) don’t forget to unmute your mic again when you’re got something (cough) profound to say. You can set up Zoom accounts free so think about who else you want to stay in touch with over this lockdown time. Older members of your family – do they need help installing Zoom and using its video calling options? And last but not least, don’t forget about how important it is for your kids to maintain their friendships while they are physically isolated from their peers.”
Eda – Technical Sales Specialist: “Well, if at the end of all this I’m an expert juggler, at least Ive mastered the art of something! Managing a full-time work schedule and two young energetic children is no easy feat on a good day – let alone when we are all in lockdown! My wife is a full-time nurse at Waikato Hospital, she is in one of the COVID19 wards so there is the added pressure with the risks that her job involves. But the good thing is, I know that I’m not the only one doing the hard yards right now. Here is my #1 tip for meeting your daily work objectives, keeping two toddlers alive and keeping possession of all your faculties! Don’t just multitask as you need to. Prepare to multitask! Working ad-hoc is not sustainable. One-minute I’m zooming my colleagues, the next I’m dressed up as Elsa or constructing a Lego masterpiece. So that’s my #1 hack for dads WFH with toddlers. Make preparations first thing in the morning that allow you to multi-task throughout the day.
Hack #2. My colleagues and clients are very understanding (and some even find it funny) when they see one of my kids’ faces pop into the corner of my screen during a zoom call, but it’s not professional if it happens too often. So, to sidetrack my kids in those awkward moments I have colouring-in sheets and paper on my desk for them to draw on. The other thing I have is some snacks on hand to distract them with – that works every time!”
Naomi – Sales Consultant:
“We are all very conscious about germy surfaces so after hearing that our friends at Good George Brewery (we completed their office fitout earlier this year) are converting one of their distilleries into a Soaptillery and making Sanitiser I thought I’d see if I could make it myself. It’s not that difficult. Here’s the recipe. Just be aware that not all surfaces and cleaning products work well together so check the labels of cleaning products before you start spraying it all over your touchscreens and keyboards!”
Luke – Technical Sales Specialist: Are the lockdown days going by fast or slow for you? I’m missing the social aspect of going to work. If you’re alone, some music goes a long way to getting rid of that eerie silence. Even some really quiet instrumentals make you feel a bit less like you’re the only person on the planet. Different music styles can put you in different working moods. You might benefit from listening to music that you’re familiar with if you need to intensely focus. With familiar music, you know what lies ahead so the sound doesn’t become your primary focus. Whereas with music your not familiar with, you don’t know what to expect so you listen closely to see what comes next, distracting you from your work. Listening to music that you like can help you work more efficiently. The theory is, it taps into the part of your brain that controls your emotions. Listening to music that evokes feelings can lead to greater levels of productivity. But on the other hand, music that evokes bad memories can make focusing more difficult!
Ryan – Technical Sales Consultant:
To some, lockdown is means boredom, loneliness and stress. If you are heading down this path, one good thing you can do is get out and do some exercise, however briefly. It’s not just about fitness and strength, people who exercise regularly do so because it makes them feel good. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, and feel more relaxed and positive about their lives.
Personally, I like to get out on a bike, and generally cover around 100km a week. It’s something to look forward to and a fun distraction from the lockdown blues. Strava is a great free app for tracking any kind of exercise and can also be used to compare your activity to others for the more competitively minded among us! (who, me?) But it’s not all about racing just get out there and do something, you won’t regret it!
P.S. top tip: avoid working outside in the sun for too long. It’s apparently not ideal for IT gear, which is why my laptop spent an afternoon in the beer fridge…
Dean – Product Manager: “Usually at this time of the year we are excited about Salone Del Mobile and Neocon, but these events are not happening in 2020 due to the virus that’s rocking our world. As the incubator of new trends and styles, the absence of these design fairs has left a huge hole in the Architecture and Design industry. So, as we tick off lockdown days by reading articles, scanning websites and feeds for news and inspiration I’m seeing new creativity and emerging trends coming to the fore. This is the perfect time to look further afield for ideas and let loose the talent inside you with imaginativeness. Ive got my R&D hat on, my pencil out and Im having a shot at refining the cable dump on a new desking system we are about to release. Whilst its still in the trial and error stages, I’m enjoying this quiet ‘backyard time’ to put all my design options through the hoops. No doubt, with this much think time on our hands, the 2020 Design awards will be flooded with genius ideas this year but my terracotta, eco-friendly cable dump and umbrella power dropper will take a bit of beating!”
Jon – Sales Manager:
There are many ways we can help ourselves during this crisis. For starters you can help yourself by helping others. As the National Sales Manager for Crestline and the Hamilton Team Leader for RRT, my network is diverse and varied. Our installation of projects obviously came to a halt on lockdown but if essential needs customers and healthcare organisations urgently require furniture and accessories, we are all hands-on deck to get them what they need and in the quickest time possible because we have good stocks of these items and our team is keen to help. Our sales team is still busy working on upcoming projects with our clients and in the meantime I’m checking in on my clients to see what I can do to help them and I’m sharing my skills and network with people in the healthcare industry.
This week I became an ambassador for Wardfast (https://www.wardfast.co.nz/). This is a group of concerned business people who have worked hard to put together a country-wide rapid response plan should COVID-19 escalate and put pressure on our hospital system here in New Zealand. I see it as a great opportunity to put my 30 odd years of furniture knowledge and contacts to good use by assisting medical teams around NZ. The COVID19 situation has thrown us all in the deep end so my advice to you all is simple… whatever your situation you may be in, you can help yourself by helping others.