Isolation is a perfect opportunity to take time for yourself. Try to make some of it a holiday at home, some much deserved time off from the demands of everyday life. Remembering that we will get through this we can take some time to be patient, kind and gentle with ourselves . One of the most kind and beneficial things one can do for oneself is to learn to relax more easily and more deeply. Luckily there are infinite resources online which can help one learn this skill. In fact we’re spoilt for choice, so here are a few short videos which we’ve found to be the greatest introduction to the practice. Even done once, these practices can have a radical effect on your mental and physical health and well-being. Enjoy!
Awarded winner of best meditation/mindfulness app 2019 by Health & Wellbeing magazine, FreeMind is not an ordinary meditation app. FreeMind helps you to manage your mindset, through powerful and inspirational guided meditations that are built on the three key pillars of all success and happiness: Peace, Power and Purpose.
These two very gentle and very easy yoga classes can be done by anyone, on the floor or seated, each one is only 30 minutes and provides enough movement to feel yourself in your body and reconnect with what matters in the present.
This app is very simple, it has a single button you can push for a ten minute body scan meditation that can be done laying down in bed or on the floor. I recommend doing this just before you sleep and/or when you first wake up. Even one use is enough to feel deeply relaxed but daily practice is where the lasting benefits are found.
(normally a subscription platform) is offering free daily meditation sessions
Headspace – one of the first mainstream meditation apps to hit the market, and one of the most enduringly successful, with routines you can do anytime, anywhere.
Calm – Headspace’s slightly more expensive cousin, with this app you can have celebrities read you stories to help you sleep, or take advantage of over 100 guided meditations, from Never Meditated In My Life level exercises, right the way up to more advanced stuff.
Muse – Muse, the brain-sensing headband has a free app that you can use on its own if you don’t have the headband.
Sanvello – based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) this app tracks your mood, and helps you reframe the way you think about things and alter your behaviour accordingly.
Sleep Cycle – put your phone on your bedside table before bed and this app detects motion in the room during the night, which it uses to determine when you’re enjoying a lighter sleep cycle, waking you up at the most pleasant time.
We know you’ll have lots of other great suggestions for our readers, please use the comments section below to let us know and we’ll do our best to edit them in!
2 minutes on a video call can save many more minutes and significantly more brain space than a long back-and-forth on Slack taking place in the background (phone calls are not as good as video, but they ARE better than endless Slack / WhatsApp or email!)
Use your webcam on calls as much as possible – helps you know when people have finished speaking/want to speak
Use Trello / Jira / Teams Planner to guide stand-ups and check-ins. Centring the updates around the cards keeps it really focussed but also means the detail is there for later when you can’t just check something with somebody in 3 seconds
Have a shared document (Google / Word / Dropbox Paper) for meetings so people can follow along with the conversation and keep track of what’s been agreed/asked – don’t assume that somebody else is writing in their pad / on post-its if you can’t see them doing it
It’s really hard to judge what the general mood in the camp is, so introduce a low-key way of sharing general feelings – e.g. if people are happy to, share a number out of 10 for your general vibe in your stand-ups so people know who to give support to and who to go to for a bit of a pick-me-up
Make a bit of time for inconsequential, non-work chat – you are not machines, nobody wants you on back-to-back calls
You’re allowed to make tea/coffee/stretch your legs
Don’t pretend you can do life admin throughout your working day – it disrupts concentration and just makes for a weird vibe when you jump from putting a wash on to talking to somebody about something super serious. Plan your admin time
You’re allowed to close Slack for a bit if you need a bit of focus time – just give people a heads up, but nobody will assume you’re skiving off
If you feel a bit lonely, a bit confused by some work, or feel like you’re making no headway – ping somebody to share a feeling or frustration. When nobody can pick up on your furrowed brow or sighs of annoyance, it can feel like you have to fix it all yourself, but we work in teams for a reason
Slack/email isn’t the best medium for sharing a difficult message – use the phone or video chat for anything which is complex or contentious
Remember people are not all set up with home offices – people will be working with kids, dogs, cats and partners in the background and not everyone has an office to go to. Be understanding and respectful of this situation. If using Video / Voice calls we should expect delays around mute / unmute and a loss of concentration. We recommend using messaging to write questions / ask specific people for answers and responses as well as your voice
https://www.bigwhitewall.com/ – Big White Wall is a free online community for people who are stressed, anxious or feeling low. The service has an active forum with round-the-clock support from trained professionals. You can talk anonymously to other members and take part in group or one-to-one therapy with therapists.
Catch It – App – Learn how to manage feelings like anxiety and depression with Catch It. The app will teach you how to look at problems in a different way, turn negative thoughts into positive ones and improve your mental wellbeing.
Sleepio – App – Sleepio is an online sleep improvement programme for people living in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. It has been clinically proven to help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep through the night, and give you more energy during the day if you follow the programme correctly. The programme is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for insomnia (CBTi). You can use it to learn cognitive techniques to help tackle the racing mind and behavioural strategies to help reset sleeping patterns naturally, without relying on sleeping pills.
Student Health – Free App – The Student Health App provides easy access to more than 900 pages of reliable health information all in one place. The content has been created for university students by NHS doctors and is regularly updated. Use the app to reduce your worries, feel more confident and get the support you need at what can be a challenging time for any student.
A team’s communication tasks likewise vary in complexity, depending on the need to reconcile different viewpoints, give and receive feedback, or avoid the potential for misunderstanding. The purpose of the communication should determine the delivery mechanism.
So carefully consider your goals. Use leaner, text-based media such as email, chat, and bulletin boards when pushing information in one direction — for instance, when circulating routine information and plans, sharing ideas, and collecting simple data. Web conferencing and videoconferencing are richer, more interactive tools better suited to complex tasks such as problem-solving and negotiation, which require squaring different ideas and perspectives.
TIP 2: MAKE INTENTIONS CLEAR
Intentions get lost in translation for several reasons:
People tend to be less guarded and more negative in writing. When we cannot see the response of the person receiving the message, it’s easier to say things we would not say in person.
Negativity goes both ways. People on the receiving end of written communication tend to interpret it more negatively than intended by the sender. Emotions are expressed and received mostly through nonverbal cues, which are largely missing from text-based communication.
People read with different lenses. In written messages, we often assume that others will focus on the things we think are important, and we overestimate the extent to which we have made our priorities clear. Unfortunately, it’s easy for critical information to get overlooked. To prevent these biases from causing problems on your team, ensure that you are crystal clear about your intentions.
To prevent these biases from causing problems on your team, ensure that you are crystal clear about your intentions.
TIP 3: STAY IN SYNC
When team members don’t interact face to face, the risk of losing touch and getting out of step is greater. This can happen for a number of reasons.
First, when teams are not colocated, it’s more difficult to tell when messages have been received and read, unless receipt is specifically acknowledged.
Second, communication failures can lead to uneven distribution of information among team members. Individuals might be excluded from an important team email by mistake, Third, the lack of frequent in-person contact can create an out-of-sight, out-of-mind effect in which team members become distracted by local demands and emergencies and forget to keep their distant teammates informed.
TIP 4: BE RESPONSIVE & SUPPORTIVE
Trust between teammates in the same workspace is influenced to a large extent by familiarity and liking; however, in dispersed teams, people must signal their trustworthiness by how they work with others on a task. To help develop trust on a virtual team, encourage everyone to respond promptly to requests from their teammates, take the time to provide substantive feedback, proactively suggest solutions to problems the team is facing, and maintain a positive and supportive tone in communications.
TIP 5: BE OPEN AND INCLUSIVE
Virtual tools reduce the social cues that help team members bond, which can diminish motivation to share ideas and information. People may also hold back when they can’t directly observe teammates’ reactions to their contributions.
To reap the benefits of your virtual team’s diversity, focus on communicating as openly and inclusively as possible. Involve the whole team in important communications and decisions. Actively solicit perspectives and viewpoints from all team members.
These are not normal times and it’s important that we remember that we’re all human and everyone is trying their best. Stuff will happen that can’t be predicted, can’t be mitigated, and can’t be planned for.
If you’re working from home, don’t expect it to go perfectly. If you’re managing people working from home cut them some slack and show as much support as humanly possible!
We’ve all seen the famous BBC interview… and if not, here it is
IT’S OK IF YOU’RE WORKING FROM HOME AND…
your kids start yelling in the background while you’re on a call (or they casually walk into your home office/bedroom to ask you for something).
you accidentally forget to hit the mute button and we hear you scream across the house for those same kids to be quiet.
you didn’t have time to shower because you had a call with the UK team at 7am and you don’t turn on the video.
you’re new to working remotely and we can see everything in your closet behind you.
your wifi goes down and the call drops, twice.
the lawnmower outside or builder next door is a bit too loud for comfort.
your dog starts barking in the middle of your sentence and suddenly you go on mute.
your cat jumps on your lap or keyboard in the middle of a video call and you lose your train of thought.
THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PREPARE
Modern collaboration tools are great and there are probably some things you can look out for to help the situation. Here’s where we suggest you start!
Find out how the manage the “mute” – your collaboration tools probably have tools to help you mute one or even all of the participants on a meeting.
Can you “blur background”? – it’s not always possible to work in a quiet and distraction free space, not everyone has a home office. Bluring the background behind you can help keep focus in the meeting and also means no one has to see the mess we all inevitably actually live in!
Create symbols for your family – is there a sign you can put on, a light you can turn on, or a flag you can raise to show you’re family when you need quiet time to work so they can do their best to avoid disturbing at the critical moment.
Get some headphones or earbuds ready – if there is a lot of background noise, then it’ll be potentially difficult for you both hear and be heard. Using some decent quality headphone will help on both ends! Make sure you’ve set them up correctly however in advance of the meeting. If they’re Bluetooth you may need to spend some time connecting them to your PC or phone
Finally: Organisations will have to be relaxed about this whilst people get acclimatized to remote working – whether they like it or not…
Best practices and tips to help you stay sane, focused and boost your productivity while working from home, a coffee shop or really anywhere in the world, because distributed teams are a reality and remote work is the future: http://www.benedikt-lehnert.de/contact
A daily stand-up call may not work in a flexible working environment. One method which is effective in our experience as a remote working team is to have a communication channel in your chosen platform (ie Slack) which is purely for daily feedback. A #huddle channel where people post what they achieved today and what they’re planning to do the next working day helps to provide essential feedback to line managers and team members alike, whilst also ensuring focus on activities going forward.