Working from home #WFH has now been a way of life for just over a month for Commission Factory. We asked the team how they have managed and the tips they recommend to stay positive, productive and motivated, without physically being in the office.
Commission Factory has been working from home since the 17th of March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For some of the team, it has been their first time working from home. Working in a new environment has presented new challenges which the team have worked hard to overcome and continue to do so. Pre-COVID-19, Commission Factory introduced the option to work from home once a week and flexible working hours, allowing the team to fit hobbies, fitness and family life around their working day. With remote working successfully tested and rolled out, it has meant we already had the tools and infrastructure in place to make working from home possible. We asked the team what advice they could give to companies and employees in the same situation, here are some of their tips.
A significant aspect of working from home is having the relevant tools and programs for the job. Commission Factory ensured the tools and applications were in place when testing remote working, such as Zoom, Google Drive and Slack, as well as peer reward software Bonusly, to celebrate an individual's work. Providing the right tools to communicate effectively, manage tasks and work allows the transparency the team need to work effectively.
Another fun way to keep productive is the Momentum app. Momentum allows users to keep a personal dashboard that displays a to do list, current weather, inspirational quote and photo every day.
It is important to have a dedicated workspace set aside at home to firstly, help with with focus and secondly with productivity. If you do not have a dedicated area for work, it is worth having some way to differentiate between work and home. For example, packing the work laptop and anything work related away when you have finished the day. Wearing work attire during the business hours and casual wear outside of working hours.
The team's top three tips
- Make sure you have a comfortable chair with good back support
- Ensure your screen is eye level or below
- Listening to music or a podcast
“I would suggest people use Spotify! Keep your music playing or listen to a podcast, it's a great way to break up the day.” - Angus Waters, Publisher Manager
Staying connected with the team is an essential factor when working from home and being visible virtually is important. Using video calls to continue face to face interaction in a time when we can not hold physical meetings, will help build rapport with new contacts and maintain your relationship with your colleagues.
“The daily catch up calls with my team every morning are amazing. They go a long way to help us feel connected and to set the routine for the day.” Danielle Sciortino, Key Account Manager
For Commission Factory, each of the communication platforms has its own purpose and rules of engagement. Whether you are using Slack or another platform, it is important to have a clear rule of communication for internal and external conversations.
- Slack is intended for quick messages or questions that do not require long discussions.
- Zoom is intended for meetings, detail orientated subjects or when screen sharing or presenting is required.
Now that we no longer have the ability to physically see if a colleague is busy, we need to make full use of the digital tools to communicate our availability through status updates. Setting yourself as away status, stating your whereabouts or synching communication platforms with your calendar allows the team member to know when you are free online.
A common challenge amongst some of the team is working through lunch breaks and forgetting to take breaks altogether. A great way to counteract this is using efficient time management skills and making the most of your calendar.
“Set up your working day by scheduling tasks in your calendar first thing in the morning or the beginning of the week. Give yourself realistic timeframes for each task and for larger tasks, break up the task across several time slots. It is also worth scheduling your coffee breaks and a lunch break and then your meetings around those times, to ensure you are taking a break from the desk as you would do in the office.” - Emily Do, Event and Marketing Manager
Task & project management
Google drive and asana are both helpful tools in relation to project management. Google Drive allows us to share, organise and collaborate on files with a team of people. Features such as ‘suggesting mode’ in Google Docs allow users to comment on specific sections of a document.
Asana is useful for managing a number of tasks or projects. Tasks can be broken down into subtasks and can also be edited by a number of users and a great way to manage group projects. It gives you the ability to set due dates, assign tasks to different members of a group and it also presents reminders for upcoming projects, giving colleagues visibility on workload and deadlines.
With the closure of gyms and fitness centres it has been hard for people to find motivation to exercise and easy for people to fall into unhealthy habits and working around the social distancing rule can also make exercising challenging. Incorporate exercise either first thing in the morning or a fifteen minute mobility exercise to stretch out your back or a walk or a jog to maintain activity and breaks throughout the day.
“Make sure you remember to take your breaks, drink plenty of water and start each day with a run or walk. It really helps to stay motivated and feel accomplished!”- Michelle Cefai, Account Executive
Using fitness apps like Strava, the team have been able to stay connected and active by sharing and tracking, walks, cycling and running exercises as well as pictures and comments, allowing others to like, respond and encourage each other's healthy habits. Fitness apps can help create a community outside the working day and help to keep each other active, as well as connected. Strava allows you to create a group, seat a goal distance to work towards as a team and display a leaderboard to see how you are tracking.
Our social committee at Commission Factory has had to adapt events to digital platforms, from online quizzes using platforms such as Kahoot, to playing Skribblio or Taboo online can make it a fun way to start the day, getting everyone active and motivated and a great opportunity to see everyone's face. For one Friday catch up (with beer), we held a fun fact quiz that involved staff sending in a fact about themselves and then trying to guess which fact belonged to which staff member.
“WFH doesn't suit all people so support each other as much as you can to ensure connections are still being made while being isolated.” - Emma Bhatti, Head of Advertiser Management
Previously for Easter, Commission Factory held Easter egg hunts in the office. To substitute this we posted two spot the Easter egg pictures on the company Slack channel. In the digital world, there are enough sites to choose from to help with the social element, it is just about taking the time to find what suits your company best.
The team suggests staying hydrated throughout the day, using an app to remind yourself to drink water regularly . Apps like Water Reminder are excellent for this and work through your chrome extension. It allows you to choose visual or audio reminders set to notify automatically throughout the day.
Having a structured routine to stay motivated and daily goal setting is also beneficial to being productive.
“I find that if I have a list of what I want to achieve throughout the day I'm more focused and guided in my tasks. Also, staying in constant conversation with my team is important!” - Kate Eringa, Key Account Manager
The team at Commission Factory are grateful to have the ability to work from home, especially during uncertain times and when others are not as fortunate. Despite the difficult circumstances globally, the team has remained positive and continues to support one another.
“Although we all have been suddenly thrust into WFH for the foreseeable future, and it hasn't been easy for all, I am very proud Commission Factory had the foresight to provide us the tools and implement policies which has made the transition from working in the office to WFH as seamless and efficient as possible. We as a business have demonstrated how agile we are to events out of our control and pivot the business to accommodate the 'new reality' and most importantly continue to deliver great customer service to our clients and affiliates.” - Gary Johnson, Account Manager
There is a strong sense of community as the team always provides new suggestions on staying connected, staying social and making the best of working from home. We look forward to the day we’re together again.
Some of the other great benefits of working at Commission Factory are flexible working hours, personal travel insurance, the ability to purchase annual leave and use two days yearly to support a charity. For new opportunities check the Commission Factory careers page.