24 Lessons We’ve Learned from 1 Year of Working Remotely

Back in March 2020, many of us had to drop our daily routines and turn our homes into offices overnight—the OpenView team included. Having to balance 24/7 childcare and homeschooling, sharing Wi-Fi bandwidth with other remote workers and learners in the household, and figuring out Slack and Zoom… it was a lot to get used to.

One year in, we’re feeling much more comfortable working from home, but we’re hoping that we can safely return to our office by the end of this year. We’ve learned a lot over these past 12 months—about ourselves and this new way of working—and our team wanted to share some of those lessons here:

  1. It’s always snack time.
  2. If you use filters, always test your video before joining a Zoom call—unless you really are a cat.
  3. Closets and dining room tables make excellent home offices in a pinch.
  4. The best way to make that pile of laundry behind you disappear? Two words: Zoom background.
  5. My pets are so happy to have me home all day—and seeing a cat walk across someone’s screen or a dog pop up for pats during a call is normal (and welcomed).
  6. In the beginning of all this, I was worried about my kids walking in during video calls. But now it’s totally normal and has been a way for us to get to know each other better.
  7. Double-check to make sure you’re muted during a group call.
  8. Staying connected as a team is more important than ever. Airbnb Experiences have been incredibly helpful (and fun!) for team building.
  9. Setting boundaries is a must, or else you run the risk of working 24 hours a day. A couple of ways to do this: If you have the space, set up a dedicated spot in your home where you work, and only use that space to do work. Turn off Slack notifications after 6pm, and make it a habit to not send or respond to email after work hours or on weekends.
  10. There’s no such thing as too many Slack emojis. People are constantly adding new emojis to our Slack at OpenView, and it makes Slack so much more fun.
  11. Pajama pants and sweatpants go with everything. And when you must look presentable, try the Zoom Outfit Mullet: Business on top, comfort on bottom.
  12. Zoom fatigue is real. Pick up the good ol’ fashioned phone and forgo video once in a while. Even better: Go for a walk and talk.
  13. If you don’t know someone (new hires) or you just miss the office culture of seeing everyone around, make a Zoom lunch meeting. It’s a great way to stay connected with your co-workers and to maintain some sense of connectedness while working remote.
  14. Balancing work and home life amidst a pandemic can be hard at times. It’s important to set boundaries both personally and professionally and communicate to others when you’re taking time for yourself or when you need to put your head down and focus on work.
  15. Household chores can actually be a great break from work throughout the day.
  16. Keep your schedule as if you’re going to work. I “commute” (walk) to work for 30 minutes in the morning, walk during lunch, and “commute” for 30 minutes after work. This helps me get in and out of the work mindset for the day—plus it’s a nice way to avoid sitting all day.
  17. Upgrading my Wi-Fi early on made all the difference in reducing what seemed like a daily frustration with a lack of reliable internet connection throughout the workday, especially with a partner who’s also working from home. Can’t even measure the return on that extra $20/month.
  18. I’ve learned so much more about my partner’s career and just how different our calls are after eight months of working from the same space.
  19. Collaboration is key! Leveraging Google Docs to share ideas has been a helpful way to avoid unnecessary meetings while still working through ideas and projects.
  20. Getting dressed in real clothes in the morning, like I’m going to the office, is a game-changer for my productivity.
  21. As it turns out, the biggest thing working remotely has taught me is that I can actually do it. Before the pandemic, I wasn’t sure I could.
  22. Having control of the thermostat in your workspace is a great WFH perk!
  23. If you don’t have any video calls, you can absolutely do your in-depth skincare routine during the day.
  24. Having a “shutting down” ritual for the day is critical. Whether it’s a walk around the block to “commute” or setting up a daily time to call someone in your family, be intentional about when to sign off.

More on remote work

Editor’s note: This was originally published in December 2020 and was updated in March 2021.

Kristin Hillery
Kristin Hillery
Managing Editor
OpenView

Kristin joined OpenView after spending over four years at InVision managing their Inside Design publication and helping build brand love as chief storyteller, lead producer and editor. Before InVision, she co-founded the digital strategy agency Four Kitchens, spent several years in the restaurant industry as a chef, and was Editor-in-Chief of the nation’s largest college humor publication, the Texas Travesty, as an undergrad at the University of Texas at Austin.
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