Adjusting to working from home: #Threadfam tips & tricks

It's no doubt remote work has been on the rise, and even more front of mind with COVID-19, the global pandemic is affecting every industry and demographic. While many are being thrown into experiencing remote work for the first time, some have been 'digital nomads' well before our toolboxes were full of resources to aid in communication, inclusion, and productivity.

By nature, Threads is a platform designed to support distributed teams. No matter where you are, Threads empowers everyone to have important discussions that won't fall off your radar or lose relevance. Two members of #Threadfam (what we call folks who work at Threads), who are remote year-round, know that this adjustment is hard for those who are being thrown into it for the first time. To make it a little bit easier, they’ve shared more on their experiences and tips for adapting to this new normal.

Say 👋 to Addie & Matta

Addie is part of the customer experience team and has been remote for her entire career in some capacity, from freelance journalism to various startups spread nationally. She had some of her most high-impact work experiences while living out of her Honda Element while traveling on the West Coast.

“I managed to build a successful remote office while sleeping in national forests (I do not necessarily recommend this, but it was cool for a while...until you can't find reliable WiFi). Over the years, I've learned a lot about what does and doesn’t work. In light of COVID-19, it's valuable to start thinking about remote culture, not just in terms of reliable tooling, but work and lifestyle tips to ensure a healthy, balanced and productive approach.”

This is something that Matta, a software engineer and dad of two, whole-heartedly agrees with.

“I get to help build the product that makes it easier for me to work remotely. With the added distractions brought about by COVID-19, my workday is now divided into several smaller chunks. Having asynchronous discussions is more important than ever.”

So, whether you’re a seasoned digital nomad, or are adjusting to the new work-from-home life due to unforeseen circumstances, check out some of our remote-lifestyle advice below that aims to provide direction and balance.

Set boundaries

Without a physical division of work and home, it’s easy for your daily tasks and to-dos to intersect with other personal activities. Checking your phone upon waking up and eating dinner while answering messages can become the norm. Still, it’s important to set boundaries to ensure work-life balance, even if you don’t have physical separation.

Addie: I am still learning this one. It ebbs and flows, but I've noticed the more excited I am about my work (i.e., working at Threads!), the harder it is to shut it down in the evenings. While I still really appreciate the ability to catch up on threads whenever it’s most convenient (which, frankly, is sometimes before bed), it’s an intentional decision, rather than one of obligation. To make sure I don’t fall into the “obligatory” mindset, I turn my phone on airplane mode when I’m done for the evening, and I use the do-not-disturb functionalities on both Threads and Slack. This helps to take the edge off of notification fatigue when first waking up in the morning.

Matta: Having that separation is ideal for focusing and getting work done. Nowadays, schools are closed, and entire families are home all day. Some of the boundaries that we had before are changing. Schools and other online resources are offering more education and activities to be done at home, and some families are finding opportunities to work together, at least for small portions of the day.

Build a routine & productive environment

Working from home is often touted as a privilege, but the reality is most of us are not equipped with a robust home office. Not being in an office means you're losing out on some of the perks/tools for productivity, and it’s vital to find a setup that works best for you.

Addie: I live in a studio apartment, and I do not own a desk. If I am working from home, I alternate between working from my kitchen (standing), my roof (new favorite work spot), or kitchen chairs. I save the couch for the end of the workday when I want to "lounge," but I do not need to focus as acutely.

Matta: Routines in the morning can really help with boundaries. When I dropped off my daughter at daycare, that gave me an easy anchor to start my workday. However, I have a friend who always works from home (doesn't like co-working spaces), and every morning, he gets dressed as though he's going into an office. He then walks around the block a couple of times to simulate some sort of "commute" to help make that separation between home and work.

Take breaks

When you're working alone (or not with your team!) and don't have the distractions of people, office dogs, snacks, etc., it's easy to get lost in your work and never see an end in sight. Taking breaks is an obvious yet hard-to-remember tip when working remotely.

Addie: Go for walks! Work with me for one day, and you'll quickly observe I am a very active meditator and thinker. If I come to a halt in my work and my brain stops working, I step outside and start moving my legs. It helps every time. Going for walks provides sanity, clarity, movement, and some Vitamin-D. What's more powerful than that?

Matta: Taking breaks when stuck on a problem is one of the best ways to move things forward. With many people now working from home, I think it’s essential to also have scheduled breaks as a team. There are many ways to do this from home. For example, at Threads, we have remote happy hours and movie nights.

General communication

At Threads, we have guidelines for when it comes to using synchronous communication channels like Slack, versus our product for more in-depth, thoughtful discussions. This is hugely advantageous and alone sets us up for success as a team that spans time zones.

Addie: Catching up with my team on Slack, sharing articles, songs, photos, etc., always adds some sunshine to my day, especially if I'm feeling lonely (which—to be transparent—happens quite often!). Maintaining 1:1s and team video chats is key. It's not the same as hanging out in real life, but I greatly look forward to having face time with folks. The biggest bummer (outside of lacking a sufficient supply of bubbly water and snacks at all times) of working remotely is not getting to hang out with your team every day. Hopping on a video call alleviates this pain a little bit. While they can feel awkward initially ("what do I do with my hands?" "this is a weird angle" "does my face really look like this?"), it does provide such valuable face time even if it's only a couple of times a week.

Matta: When I first started at Threads, I recall over-estimating the difficulty of working on problems remotely. It felt like something that needed to be planned or scheduled. However, I've found that, at least with our team at Threads, it's not much harder than doing it in real life. I assume that people are not always available to talk (i.e., don't wait until I'm entirely blocked) and that they hopefully feel comfortable saying they are in the middle of something, pinging me when they're available next, etc. Tandem, a video product, has done a good job turning this asking process into a single click (compared to sending a message on Slack). No doubt, it's easier to look across the desk and ask someone a question, but I have found the minor hurdles of doing it remotely to be pretty useful. It takes a bit more time, but I end up looking into problems myself a bit more than I would before asking someone in person. That investigation sometimes results in learning more things and potentially solving problems in new ways.

It’s undoubtedly a stressful time for everyone, with routines turned upside down and the ever-changing landscape with COVID-19. With that, Threads is committed to doing what we can to play an integral, however small, role in making your day-to-day a little bit more balanced and predictable in a time where neither feels particularly attainable. Also, one more piece of advice—wash those hands!