You don’t need us to tell you that, right now, times are strange and scary. As COVID-19 forces us all to re-evaluate our social participation in new and unprecedented ways, things can start feeling a little…surreal? Difficult to manage? Hard to describe? All of the above. Every member of the Maintain team is practicing self-quarantine right now in order to do our part for our community and our families. Though we’re experiencing the same uncertainties and concerns as everyone else going through all of this, we’re doing our best to remain as optimistic, hopeful, and productive as possible through it all. We’re so grateful to have the privilege of working from home; we’re thankful for all of the people, and especially the incredible medical professionals, who are continuing to go to work in order to keep our communities going; we’re committed to finding silver linings and positivity wherever possible, and we’re determined to continue doing our absolute best work for our clients. Luckily, having had some remote members of our team for several months now, we’ve got some practice when it comes to staying productive while working out-of-office. Whether you’re working remotely for the first time or simply looking for ways to stay mindful and motivated while social distancing, check out some of our most useful tips below.

Take Full Advantage of Communication Platforms

If you’ve been active on social media during your self-quarantine (and, let’s be honest, which of us hasn’t?), chances are you’ve seen at least a meme or two about Zoom. Of course, it makes sense: as the most popular video conferencing platform out there, Zoom has been a life-saver in helping companies host internal and client meetings while their employees work remotely. Of course, the functionality of Zoom isn’t limited to the professional world: it’s a great way to get all of your friends in one place (well, on one screen) and host a virtual dinner party. It even allows you to share your screen with other participants (two words: Netflix party). If you find yourself in need of more efficient communication at work (or if you just miss your loved ones), definitely check out Zoom (it’s free).

In addition to Zoom, here are some of the virtual productivity tools that we’ve been relying on the most while working remotely:

Asana. Not gonna lie – Asana’s been essential for us since long before self-quarantining. It’s an ultra-user-friendly task management platform that lets you keep track of all your ongoing and completed projects. It has so many functionalities that we could write an entire post about Asana alone, so we highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t yet.

TrackingTime. When your entire team is separated, it’s critical to be able to track projects and continue managing time effectively. We’ve tried out our fair share of time-tracking software, and TrackingTime has been the best by far. Not only is it affordable and intuitive, but it also integrates directly with Asana.

Slack. Whether it’s getting important updates on deliverables or sending lighthearted memes back and forth, Slack is the most efficient professional IM platform there is. You can create different channels, with different members, for each of your projects or customers; you can create private channels with member-only access; and you can integrate with Drive to share documents directly within channels. Oh – and you can create custom emojis. Thought that was worth mentioning, too.

Distinguish Between Workspaces and “Chill” Spaces

When you’re new to working from home, it can be tempting to get to work wherever you’re most comfortable. In our experience, though, there’s a lot to be said for keeping your workspaces separate from your leisure/chill spaces. For a lot of us, turning off the computer and ending our workday can be hard enough in-office; when working from home, those lines become even more blurred. This is why it’s super important to create an at-home work station for yourself, whether it’s your dinner table, a spare room, or even a corner of your living room. Work from there, and walk away when your workday is over. It’s important to create an intentional separation between work and home when you work from home.

Get Out in the Sun

Don’t adopt the misconception that “social distancing” means “being stuck indoors all day.” You both can and should get some fresh air and sunlight at least once a day; as long as you’re avoiding crowds and staying about six feet away from others, it’s perfectly fine. Take your lunch break as an opportunity to stretch your legs. Give yourself a couple of 15-minute breaks a day to walk your dog or sit on your porch. Reward yourself at the end of a workday with a long, leisurely walk while you listen to some music. Getting outdoors gives your brain a chance to reset, allowing you to reduce stress, anxiety, and the claustrophobia of being indoors. 10/10, could not recommend enough.

Appreciate Each Other

Honestly? You really start to miss your team when you can’t see them face-to-face. It can be easy to take in-person interactions for granted when we have them all the time – and to find ourselves feeling unexpectedly deprived when we’re self-quarantining. The key to making it all a little easier is to be intentional about letting your team know that you value and appreciate them. This is usually much more about the little things than it is about the grand gestures. Here are some of the things we do:

1. Start off weekly meetings by asking every member of the team to express how they’re feeling that day (generic answers like “fine” and “good” won’t cut it). This places the focus on them as an individual human being apart from their professional identity, giving them a platform and safe space to share any doubts or concerns they may be having during this weird time.

2. Share memes, jokes, quotes, or other funny and inspiring things via Slack. Our “General” Slack channel has everything from work-related questions to “Happy Birthday”s and funny memes. Using your virtual communications platforms to be friends as well as coworkers does wonders for morale.

3. Give positive reinforcement. Whether in-person or virtual, pats on the back always feel good and motivate team members to keep doing their best.

Transitioning to a remote working environment – and to self-quarantine in general – can be pretty isolating and overwhelming. Taking care of yourself and your team starts with knowing what tools to use in order to set everyone up for productivity and success. Take a deep breath, give yourself a break when you need it, and let your team know how much they matter to you. When you prioritize communication, voice your appreciation for your team, and give yourself the space you need to do your best work, you set yourself up for success during social distancing and beyond. If you have any questions about maintaining productivity while social distancing, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.