How to stay productive and engaged when the world comes to halt

“Here we go again” – a slogan that’s been splashed across our headlines as our team mates in New Zealand HQ joins New South Wales in a Level 4 Lockdown. We’ve all been here before, working from home, going for our daily walks and having our Friday afternoon social zoom calls. 

Working from home is all fun and games until the feelings of disconnect creep in. Over the past year, companies have been faced with a new question – how do you keep your employees engaged and connected whilst they work in isolation? 

I pondered this question, and of course, subsequently googled it. Comparing various articles on leadership and psychology papers discussing our new working reality, I’ve pieced together the most realistic list on how to not let the current state of the world separate you from your colleagues. I’ve also rated them against a slightly adapted version of our company values as a measure of how well we’re performing. (Disclaimer – This is just what I found the most useful, you may have a different approach, but give it a go, you may surprise yourself!) 

Create a team playlist

Never underestimate the power of music to get you through that 3pm slump. Pair a cup of coffee with some good jams that you and your colleagues have collated and you’ll be surprised by the sudden rush of motivation and productivity. Also a good way to expand your music horizons whilst getting to know your work mates.

8/10 Positive vibes

The Pomodoro Technique 

Look, we’ve all heard the various strategies to combat procrastination, and various apps have capitalised on this influx of information about the human attention span. By far the easiest and most effective technique I’ve tried is the Pomodoro Technique.

Essentially you break up your day into 25 minute chunks (I first thought who on earth can get anything done in that time frame but trust me on this), separated by 5 minute breaks. After about 4 of these ‘pomodoros’, you take a longer break of 20 minutes. Having 25 minutes committed to smashing out a task really gets you going as opposed to “oh I’ll finish this report this afternoon” and meandering your way through the task with endless distractions.

9/10 Ownership and execution for the win

Pomodoro technique Pomodoro technique (Source)

Book a meeting every day or two with your team lead

When working from home, it’s easy to feel like your superior checking up on you is a form of micro management. You may feel like they do not trust you and are monitoring your progress unnecessarily. However, if you schedule the meeting then run the meeting from your perspective, explaining what you’re working on and how your progress is going, you can eliminate that feeling of distrust. This opens up the conversation as opposed to feeling like you’re being grilled, and gives you some more socialisation in a positive, constructive light. It can also generate the recognition that can often be overlooked whilst working from home.

8.7/10 Blaze your own trail

Daily quizzes

Look, I’m aware I’ve already mentioned these quizzes—but honestly, a bit of daily competition with your workmates can seriously boost your mood. You can even break into teams and keep score as you go if you’re that way inclined, or complete the quiz together with the goal of getting 100% correct. For more quizzical minds, running a pseudo pub quiz once a week with your team is a great way of getting some good yarns going and allowing for some social time to decompress after a long day.

10/10 General knowledge delight

Gratitude diary

In such weird and unprecedented times (I had to say that word at least once), it can be tough to see what’s actually going well. Celebrating each small win can really contribute to feeling like each day is manageable, and that you are in fact making progress whilst the country has come to a halt.

You don’t need to list off huge things, maybe just “I’m grateful for the good people in my bubble” or “for the interesting book I’m reading”. Even being grateful for Netflix or the cold beer at the end of the day, the act of writing down this small win can make them more tangible and quantify the good in every day. 

100/10 Trusted guardian of yourself

There are quite a few small ways to improve each day, even though they can seem to blend together as the lockdown goes on. Looking after each other and ourselves has become paramount in this turbulent climate. Feeling connected can be tough, especially now that we can’t just turn to the person next to us to have a chat. However, these times can be a fantastic way to really get to know your work buddies, and support them even from a distance. As Ashley Bloomfield says “the smallest and largest question you can ask is ‘are you okay?’”.

First AML places a high importance on employee wellbeing and is always striving to improve the employee experience. If you’re looking to join a team that builds extraordinary things and has fun whilst doing it, head over to our Careers page to find out more!

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