Hundreds of thousands of digital marketers are finding themselves working from home for the first time in their careers. And, for many of us, it’s challenging to navigate. Between shouldering stress from the current COVID-19 crisis, handling pressure from shifting priorities, or facing an entirely new—and potentially not-so-focused—workspace, getting your job done may seem impossible.
And if it is impossible, hopefully your company has given you flexibility to take some mental health time. But if you’re trying to power through, it’s vital to have the right tools and resources to stay productive.
Here’s a list of work from home tools and resources we’ve gathered from marketers in our company, giving you a curated list of what we’ve seen to be effective.
Tools for communicating
When you don’t see your teammates every day, communication is more important than ever. Video makes it possible, and, our teams have found, it’s also far more helpful than solely relying on messaging or emailing, as you can pick up a lot from demeanor and body language in a video.
So here are a few trustworthy platforms for communicating, whether it’s through a keyboard or a camera.
Zoom – Everyone is looking to online video communication services during COVID-19, and Zoom seems to be consistently at the top. Zoom is also offering some features to K-12 educators for free during the pandemic.
Microsoft Teams – If you’re already entrenched in the Microsoft ecosystem, Teams might be a good fit for your video conferencing and collaboration needs.
Google Hangouts Meet – Another great video collaboration service for teams that use G Suite. And for small businesses or individuals that have Basic plans, Google is extending features from the Advanced Plan of Hangouts Meet to all users, allowing for larger meetings, live streaming, and recording.
Around – This new video communication app has definitely piqued our attention. Leaning on AI and machine learning, the app automatically crops the frame to hone in on your face, even following you as you move. At the time of this post, you can request early access.
Slack – A staple at thousands of businesses, Slack is an easy way to get started with (or to elevate) text chatting for your team. It’s free for small businesses and groups to try out the platform.
Tools for collaboration
Collaborating is one of the biggest challenges when teams that are used to working together in person are now working remotely. Here are a few tools to help make it seem like you’re brainstorming in the same room, or to make sure projects meet their deadlines.
Zoom whiteboard – If your team is using Zoom, make sure to lean on its handy, built-in whiteboard tool for brainstorming and wireframing.
A Web Whiteboard – Another whiteboard collaboration tool that has a few more features than Zoom, and requires no sign-in or cost.
Asana, Basecamp, Monday, ClickUp, or Trello – With similar offerings and a variety of differentiating features, these four project and task management tools make for ideal collaboration across teams. Assign teammates, set dates, and keep track of goals and progress all in one app. Our tip: Assess whether your team has specific needs you require of a project management tool, and then make a decision based on the tool that looks easiest to you.
Tools for focus
Whether you have kids, dogs, neighbors, or your own thoughts pulling you away from focusing, here are some tools to keep your work on track.
Coffitivity – For those of you just wishing you could work in your favorite coffee shop, here’s a background chatter generator.
Krisp – Keeping your focus away from roommates or kids rummaging through the kitchen again is easier when you use a noise cancelling tool like Krisp.
I Miss The Office – This free office noise generator is not only helpful, but its beautiful design will entice you to play around for a while, giving you a nice reprieve from less light-hearted tasks or news.
Tools for learning new skills
This is an unprecedented time in our world’s history, where orders to shelter in place mean many have more time on their hands than ever before. And instead of following a thread of documentaries related to Tiger King on Netflix, here are a few places you can learn a few skills to get a step ahead.
Class Central – Free collegiate learning in massive online open courses.
Pluralsight – An online video learning platform, focused on helping you develop and advance in tech skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow. And they’re offering free courses in April 2020. Take advantage of their 7,000+ tech courses all month with no watch limits or credit card required.
Free drawing classes from famous illustrators – For the art enthusiast who hasn’t had time to hone their craft, join a free art lesson and see if you can enhance those creative chops.
Resources for working
Articles, guides, and editorials on working, cooperating, and managing remotely.
Remote Work Resource Collection – Invision has always been at the forefront of remote collaboration and innovation for teams. This resource hub is no exception.
“4 Ways to Keep Your Remote Team Connected During Quarantine” – Sydney Eddy, one of our in-house contributors at Campaign Monitor, outlining some ways our own teams are staying connected while out of office.
Digital Working: COVID-19 – Notion, a project management software company, gives their manifesto on working while remote.
“Virtual Hangouts, Online Tutorials And Remote Raves: Ways To Stay Connected While Social Distancing” – Holly O’Mahony at Culture Whisper on lighthearted ways to do things together.
Suddenly Remote Starter Kit – This guide from Zapier is for all you tech-forward companies looking to streamline your work in the new remoto era.
How To Turn Yourself Into A Potato (And Other Things) For Zoom Meetings, Teams Calls And More – Tricks for setting up camera filters to spice up your virtual meetings.
This Twitter thread on remote work from Helpscout’s VP of Design Linda Eliasen.
REMOTE: Office Not Required – A book by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson at Basecamp.
Digital Body Language: The Art of Managing a Remote Team – People Ops and remote-first thought leader Chelsea Rosenberg with quick and easy tips for remote management.
Remote Work for Design Teams – An in-depth guide from Invision on working remotely for designers and design teams.
Resources for managing stress
This is easily one of the most stressful times our world has universally faced. Here are some tips on how to manage your stress while trying to get work done from home.
“4 Astronauts Reveal Their Secrets To Surviving Months Of Isolation With Other People” – Dave Mosher at Business Insider giving insights from people trained in isolation.
Calm blog – Access free meditations to reach for peace of mind during an extremely stressful time.
“How to Turn Conference Calls into Mini Workouts” – YouBeauty helping you keep the blood flowing.
How to Make Working from Home with a Dog a Success – Wisdom Panel talking up the benefits of working alongside a dog, while giving tips on how to stay focused on work when a dog might be competing for your attention.
How Successful Remote Teams Manage Mental Health – For the HR enthusiast, OpenView has a great guide to mental health and remote work.
Resources for people with kids
With COVID-19 causing schools to be closed and students and kids to be at home, those that are trying to work from home are also trying to find activities to keep their families active, occupied, and learning. Here are some helpful resources for supporting your children while working from home.
Scholastic Learn At Home Program – An activity portal of free, daily courses for kids.
Mystery Science – Free Science lessons for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
Hippocampus.org – 7,000 free, educational videos across 13 subject areas.
Mindfulness Resources for Teens – Techniques for developing the skills to be present and aware every day.
15 Mindfulness and Relaxation Apps for Kids with Anxiety – Technological solutions that support addressing and overcoming stress and anxiety from publisher Parenting Chaos.
Emotional ABCs – An online service with social-emotional learning resources and programs.
GoNoodle – Free movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts.
30 Emotional Health Activities – A month-long calendar of daily activities that’s free to download and use.
Online Museum Tours – Free virtual trips viewing famous artworks and artifacts from around the globe.
Virtual Field Trips – Free videos and live feeds of animal habitats, famous locations, and unique areas.
Free Art Lessons – YouTube-based art classes starting.
LUNCH DOODLES with Mo Willems – A free art activity from an education artist-in-residence provided by the Kennedy Center.
Other less-work-related resources
When you need to step away from work or a chance to take a breath.
Sirius XM (temporarily free) – Sirius is offering their subscription for free until March 15.
Netflix Party – A Chrome extension that allows you to watch Netflix while also video chatting with your friends and family.
Audible (temporarily free) – One of the world’s largest suppliers of audiobooks is offering a huge selection of free audiobooks as long as the world is at home. The service started as a tool for distance learning, offering books for children and teens, but has since expanded for all audiences. Check out the audio version of classics, or listen to Harry Potter (arguably also a classic).
Goat 2 Meeting – For a modest donation, Sweet Farm will video conference in a goat from their farm to your next Zoom meeting.
Anecdotal tips from the Campaign Monitor staff
We scoured our global staff message thread for tips that emerged while we started closing offices and moving to remote work. Here are some top picks:
- Have a designated workspace. Ideally in a separate room of the house if possible. For me, I have my desk in my guest room, so that when I take breaks or am done for the day, I can physically leave the “office.”
- Come up with and stick to a routine, especially in the morning to get you going. For me, I’ll read in the morning or do a yoga/meditation practice, and always make a nice warm breakfast with coffee.
- Always take your lunch break. This is mandatory for me. I have to take my full lunch break to help break up my day. It’s also a time to nourish myself with a home cooked meal. This also means not eating lunch at your desk or near your designated workspace.
- Take breaks often (10 min). Especially if you aren’t used to working from home or don’t like to sit/stay in the same place for a while. But, when you come back to work, eliminate any other distractions (i.e. snooze notifications for an hour), so that you can really give your full attention to the task at hand and get into a state of flow. To get to a flow state or be in the zone, you’ll need at least 10-15 minutes of focus with undivided attention.
- Tackle the biggest thing you’re dreading the most, first thing in the morning. It will make you feel much more accomplished throughout your day and help you to tackle the smaller things toward the end of the day, when your energy level and focus naturally decline.
- Have things to look forward to after your work day. This makes it a bit challenging with COVID-19, as I usually go to yoga classes after work or go out with friends. But, try to do something for yourself after work that you’ll look forward to. Maybe it’s continuing a good book, calling a friend or family member, doing an online yoga or workout class, making your favorite dinner, or baking a yummy dessert you wouldn’t normally indulge in. Anything that will make you feel grounded and restored that serves your unique need that day.
- Stay connected. Slack channels, weekly team meetings, one-on-one’s with a manager—try to get more connected to those that I work with. With COVID-19 and knowing that most of my colleagues are WFH, I’ve recently started to pick up the phone and call them more to ask my question instead of simply messaging it. It’s been a really wonderful way to reconnect, catch up for a couple of minutes, then get down to business.
- If/when possible, get outside. With the weather being warmer in the US, I’ve been joining my good friend for walks with her dog around the block. It may only take 15 minutes, but it feels good to get outside in nature, feel the sun on my skin, and breathe in fresh air. By the time I get back, I feel more energized and ready to focus again.
- Need another monitor as you temporarily transition to more remote work? If you already own an iPad, you can already use it as a second monitor! Check out Apple sidecar to learn how to make your iPad part of a more remote workplace. Here’s a YouTube video on how it works.
- Share what you’re working on. Post your one-two big projects for the day in your team message channel to allow people to weigh in or offer support. Or share work in a project management tool. Track projects, work collaboratively, or virtually congratulate people for crossing items off their to-do lists.
- Read more. A report from Demos says that reading, even for a brief time each day, can help you deal with isolation and “significantly reduce feelings of loneliness.” Need some reading suggestions? Check out this list of the top 50 non-fiction books that last 25 years.
- Get together online. Schedule a regular, daily video chat for your team to connect and stay informed, even if just for 15 minutes. While we typically use video for work, try using it to connect as a team as well. Try a coffee catch-up, a tour of your apartment, a meet-and-greet with your pet, or go for a walk. Just find ways to stay connected as a team despite working from home.
Working from home during COVID-19 stay-at-home directives offer up a vast array of challenges. Have your own tips to share? Share your own resources, tips, guides, tools, or other helpful comments with us on Twitter or Linkedin.