With COVID-19, we’re living in uncertain times, where social distancing is our new normal and many companies—including ours—are requiring staff to work from home. However, Havenly is a completely digital design platform, so we know firsthand how to do our jobs online effectively.
We asked our CEO and cofounder Lee Mayer for her top tips on working from home online. Even in an industry where engaging with the textures and colors of various products is key, Lee saw incredible opportunities to take interior design online—it’s how Havenly came to be, in fact.
“The tactile nature of design is certainly a challenge in an online experience, but we’ve found ways to make it work when working from home online,” Lee says, noting how Havenly’s network of 300+ e-designers can lean on each and stay in contact via Slack. No matter your field of work, however, Lee says there are effective strategies to succeed at remote work.
Below, Lee shares insights on everything from communication tips and tools to creating a daily routine.
How can you communicate more effectively online—especially when someone is accustomed to working in-person?
Tone is paramount. Language often translates differently online than it does in person, without inflection or body language to support it. Try to be conversational. This goes beyond the use of an occasional exclamation mark to infusing warmth, personality, and friendly enthusiasm into your messaging. The goal is the same as in-person communication: connection.
But there’s a balance between establishing a genuine rapport and becoming too informal when working from home online. Yes, feel free to be playful and personable, but always remember your client is looking to you as an expert. While it sounds like common sense, things like proper grammar and spelling go a long way to maintaining professionalism.
What are some digital tools to improve connectivity among staff and clients?
While remote work can feel isolating, it doesn’t have to be! With 300+ Havenly e-designers, we adopted Slack to carry on virtual conversations and build meaningful connections remotely. Many of our designers have found community support and lasting friendships this way, without having met face-to-face.
We’ve also found video messaging is a great tool for communicating with clients. It allows them to put a face to a name, and see a designer’s passion and excitement for their project. The personal connection can develop more quickly through video. Plus, it’s just more fun! Our staff also uses Google Hangouts to stay connected with real-time video meetings.
And finally, never underestimate the power of a good, old-fashioned phone call. If you can’t meet with someone in person, try picking up the phone before you turn to email.
What's your best piece of advice for people who may be working from home online for the first time?
Create a morning routine to transition yourself from home to work mode, even without leaving the house. Our brains are hardwired by habit, and can be easily influenced by certain triggers. For example, pajamas are typically a cue that it’s nearing bedtime and your brain is likely transitioning into Netflix mode. So even though you can work in pajamas from home, don’t. Get up, get dressed, brew a pot of joe, enjoy a proper breakfast, and then… get to work. Treat sitting down at your desk (or sofa or other makeshift work space) as you’re walking into the office. Starting off the day on a productive note is the best way to ensure you tackle your priorities.