What we’ve learned about…

…remote working.

Not everything is a Zoom call It seemed like we’d forgotten about the phone call during lockdown. We don’t always need to see each other’s faces/spy on what books are on the shelf behind when we’re having a chat about work. Phone calls for us feel a bit more relaxed, and help us to focus on what is being said, rather than trying to figure out facial expressions (and getting distracted by those books in the background!).

Shared documents are a lifesaver Mainly because it removes the ‘Did you email me that thing you typed up the other day?’ ‘I thought I did. Don’t you have it?’ ‘No, I can’t find it.’ conversation. We also love Canva, and being able to share our designs with each other has been really helpful.

Bookend meetings It can be a chat about non-work stuff at the beginning or end of a work meeting, or a ‘commute’ – a friend did a twenty-minute walk before and after she started her working from home day to mimic her old commute to her workplace. We’ve found this really useful in creating work boundaries.

Set hours So important for any kind of work, but a big focus for us when we started Compass. The temptation when you’re building your own business is to ‘work every hour in the day’ because of that old maxim of ‘if you work hard enough, you can achieve whatever you want’. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out like that. We set how many hours we would work a week, and which hours during the day we worked together and separately. This helped us avoid being burnt-out and kept us fresh and energised.

Understand each other’s patterns When you’re working closely with someone remotely, this is vital. If one of you is a morning person and one of you is at your best in the afternoon, meet in the middle. Also understand each other’s responsibilities away from work, especially family commitments.

Be patient Sometimes WiFi acts up, sometimes the power goes, sometimes the plumber is removing half the bathroom and you can’t hear what someone is saying on a Zoom call. Or people aren’t available when you are. Stuff happens. Be patient and that patience will come back to you.

Change ‘locations’ Whether you work half the week in the kitchen and half in the living room, or you move your desk/working space from one side of the room to the other, changing things up during working from home can feel like going on holiday. Now we can go out, spending a couple of hours in a shared workspace or even a cafe can feel like a refresh.

Take a break Proper breaks through weekdays, no working at the weekend, and days off helped us again to keep things fresh and keep our minds rested and ready to get back to work, whether remotely or back in the office.

Radical acceptance With a global pandemic, various lockdowns and changing regulations to contend with – not to mention each of us being on opposite sides of the country – we just accepted it all. We couldn’t personally alter these things, so we got on with what we could control and accepted the rest.

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