How to work from home effectively

It’s an interesting time at the moment, where most of us are required to work from home and practice social distancing to flatten the curve of COVID19 pandemic. Here are a few tips for better remote working. Feel free to share the graphics on your social media channels and credit us.

Get dressed

Yes, please put your pants on. Even though you don’t need to don neckties or power heels, it still feels empowering when you dress smartly for yourself. This could prepare you mentally for the work challenges ahead. Also, you still need to look presentable for video meetings.

Set your goals

Keep yourself motivated with daily goals and micro goals that could be broken down hourly. Sticking to a workable routine will help you become more productive. You may apply the 80/20 rules where you could prioritise the larger tasks (the 20%) that could solve majority of other work tasks (the 80%).

Prepare your workspace

Make sure you have a comfortable chair, table and computer display that are suitable for your posture. A spot facing the window is very good to rest the eyes. Tell your family members to give you privacy during your work hours. Finally, set your ambient by playing your Spotify playlist or listen to a podcast.

Use remote working tools

Fortunately, online technology is on our side today. There are good project management tools such as Trello, Jira or Asana to track your progress. Choose the most suitable communication channels such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangout, Slack or Zoom to update your team. Some companies prefer WhatApp chat for immediate access.

Schedule your meetings

Schedule morning meetings at a regular time with your team to update progress. A regular 15 minutes catch-up is more efficient than an hour-long meeting if the agenda is outlined in advanced. It encourages transparency and builds trust over time.

Use simple words

Be clear and simple in emails for a more holistic interaction. It’s difficult to keep track of an overflowing inbox. Maybe it’s a good idea to dedicate a specific time during the day to respond, so you can focus better and manage expectations.

Have sufficient breaks

It’s so much easier to overwork when your operate from home. Set a clear boundary between your rest and work time. Go for regular short walks at lunchtime or do some yoga stretches. Enjoy your work-life balance!

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Navigating the Growth Zone

When businesses are ready to grow, they need to acquire new skills and adapt to the changes that are required for the new environment.

The learning process exposes entrepreneurs to unfamiliar territories and causes discomfort as they leave their comfort zones.

It is normal for entrepreneurs to experience low levels of anxiety and stress in the beginning until they manage to acquire new skills and extend their comfort zones.

Feel free to share the infographic below on your social channels.

1) The Comfort Zone

• Safe & in control
• Low risk, low rewards

There is nothing wrong with staying within your comfort zone. However, if you wish to grow, you may need consider investing in new skills and experience to move from your current situation. You may even enjoy the new discoveries!

2) The Fear Zone

• Low self-confidence
• Find excuses
• Affected by others’ opinions

Fear is a natural form of protection. You can try to overcome it by joining a support network, finding a mentor or seek more knowledge about the subjects you don’t know.   

3) The Learning Zone

• Face challenges
• Problem-solve
• Acquire new skills
• Extend comfort zone

This is probably the most fun and energy-consuming part of your growth. Entrepreneurs always learn something new on the job. Once you’ve acquired new skills and knowledge, you can feel comfortable and confident again.

4) The Growth Zone

• Find purpose
• Live dreams
• Set new goals
• Conquer objectives

You’ve arrived at the best part. Your dreams have manifested through your hard work and efforts. So, what next? Remember, creative entrepreneurship is a continuous learning process. Swipe back to start your journey again. Good luck!

Talk to a human face

Musings from creative wilderness by Zarina Holmes

The most ironic thing about the smartphones is that people don’t use them to talk using voices anymore. Nowadays I received more voice calls from bitcoin salespersons than my friends. But that’s fine because at least I still get to meet my friends in person over coffee.

Today at work, we mostly conduct our conversations over emails and chats. However, at the start of a new project it’s better to organise a team meeting – if not in person, via voice or video call. After that it’s okay to follow up with emails or pinging people on Slack.

You are likely to solve complicated problems quicker by picking up the phone, because listening to someone’s voice and having a face-to-face interaction could soften and humanise the situation.

Conversations over emails can sound pretty cold and distant. So, you have to word them carefully as not to sound blunt or being misunderstood.

In more than one occasion, I have witnessed a simple problem escalated into a full-blown passive aggressive group email or chat threads – simply because the project lead hesitated to take the reign and pick up the phone for a quick chat.

Of course, we assume everyone in the team have the same level of emotional intelligence but in the real world, sometimes that’s not the case.

Ignore human interface at your peril

One of the worst communication examples I’ve had experienced from a tech organisation where the CMO didn’t even call a face-to-face group meeting in the beginning of a massive rebranding project. Needless to say, 12 months down the line the project was a total chaos, team members left one by one and the brand came out looking pretty average despite the expensive price tag.

You are likely to solve complicated problems quicker by picking up the phone, because listening to someone’s voice and having a face-to-face interaction could soften and humanise the situation.

It’s all fine to use Slack, Trello or Jira platforms to track progress – but if there’s no human interface holding the team together, the team will run into conflict and will be delayed at decision making.

Also, remember to apply compassion. Don’t underestimate that your colleagues are capable to empathise if you face difficulties at work or in personal life.

There’s a more open attitude about mental health issues at work today. Seek support from HR or talk to a colleague. That’s why we work in a team.

Organise a coffee catch-up or breakfast meeting once in a while to break the monotony.

Zarina Holmes is a Creative Director and Founder of GLUE Studio.
linkedin.com/in/zarinaholmes

How to brief a designer

Musings from creative wilderness by Zarina Holmes

Designers are simple people. They are never short of imagination and enthusiasm, but what they really appreciate is a clear instruction. That is the job brief.

On the outside, designers seem like carefree coffee-drinking lot. Secretly, they relish in being organised. I don’t know one designer that doesn’t put label on things or not fascinated by a Muji storage.

When you hire a designer, you are not simply hiring someone to make your brand pretty. You are hiring a right hand. A weapon wielder to execute your strategy if you like, to communicate persuasively with your target audience and solve the messaging issues that your brand may have.

When you hire a designer, you are not simply hiring someone to make your brand pretty. You are hiring a right hand.

It’s important for designers to buy into your vision to champion it. You need to explain that story by writing a good job brief.

So, what’s a good job brief? Most of it is common sense – to include details such as budget, project duration, timeline, background, objective and desired result.

Be organised. Because you can’t score without a goal.

You’d be surprised how many jobs that landed on my desk without a clear timeline and objective. In my opinion, if a job hasn’t got clear a deadline or objective, it’s not ready to be passed on to the creative team.

Some two decades ago when I started out in an ad agency – before project management platforms like Trello existed – the Creative Director will not accept a “job bag” unless it had a job number. Why? If hasn’t got a job a number, it means that the Account Executive hasn’t done his/her homework. It’s not filed properly. The job bag was literally a brown envelope stuffed with artworks and related research materials for the creative. These days it could be a Google drive or any cloud folders.

If a job hasn’t got clear a deadline or objective, it’s not ready to be passed on to the creative team.

Please take some time to gather your thoughts first. Get the relevant team members to agree on the brief before commissioning.

Zarina Holmes is a Creative Director and Founder of GLUE Studio.
linkedin.com/in/zarinaholmes