Work From Home Tips From A Work From Home Veteran At Automattic

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Wake up at 6:00 am. Get dressed. Feed the dogs. Go for a run. Walk the dogs. Settle into the office and work until around 5:00-5:30-ish, maybe longer if there’s an urgent deadline, but otherwise I try to finish up around that time. 

That was pre-Covid-19. Today, my days look a whole lot different. 

Automattic, where I work and the company most well-known as being the parent company behind the WordPress.com platform, has been remote work-first, since its beginnings in 2005. We’re now over 1,100 full-time Automatticians across 76 countries. 

Now that it seems that the entire world has abruptly shifted to a similar model, many companies have turned to us for advice. I’ve personally fielded my share of questions from friends suddenly finding themselves working from home. 

Here’s my new day:

Wake up at 6:00. Snooze for about an hour, then read the news and become increasingly distressed. Finally drag myself out of bed around 8:00 and get dressed. Feed the dogs. Maybe run, maybe not. Sit in my home office for about half an hour willing myself to avoid Twitter and various news sites before finally hunkering down and taking solace in the comforts of work. 

This is all to say that if you find yourself struggling with the unexpected experience of working from home full-time, you are not alone. Even those of us who have been doing this for years and years share your sense of upheaval and uncertainty. 

So here are my two cents, from a veteran of the work-from-home community:

  1. First, be kind and patient with yourself. Working from home requires a lot of adjustments and experimentation during “normal” times, and these times are not normal. Expect to stumble, and know that others are sharing the struggles with you. 
  2. As much as possible, build a routine. In a time of great crisis, routines will be your best friend. Draft a schedule of your days. Understand that disruptions will be normal — the FedEx delivery is late, a last-minute meeting has been called — but having a routine can do wonders for easing stress and lessening uncertainty. 
  3. Move. Some of you will have more restrictions on movement outdoors, but YouTube is filled with free videos offering yoga, Pilates, core workouts, stretches, and other exercises, for everyone from beginners to pros. Any movement that you can incorporate into your day will help reduce anxiety and increase your energy. 
  4. Make real connections. It’s surprising to me how few folks remember the phone part of their smartphones! Call your friends, family members, even favorite customers, vendors, and partners, and see how they’re doing. Practice physical social distancing, but flex those social engagement muscles. Working from home doesn’t and shouldn’t be a lonely existence. Use technology to maintain your community and networks. 
  5. Maintain a reasonable limit to your news exposure. I’m terrible at staying off Twitter, but I am getting better! Stay informed by checking authoritative news sources no more than twice a day, for a few minutes at a time. I promise you that any true emergency will make itself known to everyone, so take charge of what you let into your mental and emotional space. 
  6. Engage your curiosity elsewhere. Scratch the itch to do something besides obsess over the news. Start a blog and share your thoughts with the world! If you’ve been putting off learning French, set aside ten minutes a day and use that app or open that workbook and practice a few sentences. Learn a new skill. It doesn’t have to be big and intimidating, and maybe now is not exactly the best time to start an MBA. But you can take a few hours to learn how to take better photographs or figure out how to set up a website for your budding side gig.

Guest Contributor: Marjorie R. Asturias works on business development and partnerships for WordPress.com. Feel free to reach out to Marjorie with questions on Twitter @marj_asturias

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