How to Work from Home Without Losing Your Mind

Chelsea Caltuna
March 23, 2020

We all know the jokes about working from home…or should we say “working” from home. But things are changing – even companies that have been firmly against remote work in the past are asking employees to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic out of necessity.

For those of you who are new to working from home, or just looking for a way to stay sane while practicing social distancing, allow us to offer a few tips. Our transition to a fully remote workforce was actually pretty simple – we’ve had work from home procedures in place since Intrinio’s inception. We also leveraged the valuable lessons learned while connecting employees across our offices in Colorado Springs, CO and St. Pete, FL – many of whom have never met in person.

Here’s how we stay in touch:

Collaboration software like Slack and Zoom. This is a no-brainer – but now’s the time to get comfortable using these tools. It’s easy to feel isolated, so use video during calls whenever possible (we promise – no one cares about your messy house, your three-day-old shirt, or your kids running around in the background). Slack is a great way to communicate about business issues, but feel free to post fun articles and pictures, talk about movies or music, or just check in on everyone’s personal well-being (in the appropriate channels, of course).

A weekly all-team meeting. Intrinio hosts weekly standup meetings every Monday. Our CEO, Rachel Carpenter, leads us through a “State of the Union”-type address – celebrating wins, acknowledging issues, answering questions, and generally keeping everyone informed about the status of the company. In times of unrest and uncertainty, company standups are especially valuable to keep everyone from feeling disconnected, nervous, and in the dark. Bonus points if you take the opportunity to recognize someone who has done outstanding work recently.

Intrinio team
Here's our actual team on Zoom!

Virtual coffee meetings. We’ve recently put this in place and seen fantastic results. Each week, a member of the Florida team and a member of the Colorado team are paired up for a half-hour meeting. It’s a chance for us to learn more about the other person’s role, as well as their interests and hobbies. As a result, we see people reaching out to each other for help with work-related tasks, both because they better understand who might have the answers and because the ice has already been broken. Does your team already know each other personally? Virtual coffee meetings can still help your employees feel more united, get some much-needed socialization, and open up a dialogue about current projects that allows for fresh perspectives and ideas.

Here are a few tips straight from the Intrinio team:

“Have a dedicated workspace that is private, quiet, and contains all of the necessary tools to succeed. If you have a backyard, consider working outside (when it’s not raining) if you can. And keep your kids on schedule if they are home – give them clear lesson plans, including breaks and subject matter.”

Phillip Vigo – Technical Support Manager

“Physically move sometimes so your roommates don’t think you’re dead and poke you with a stick. And, to get your blood flowing.”

Michael Kelly – Junior Software Developer

“Rotate positions often – counter, desk, couch – for each task. Slack and email help to stay in touch but turn them OFF for some period of the day to focus singularly on one task that is most important to get done.”

Rachel Carpenter - CEO

“Work out at lunch, you have a private shower. Or go back to work stinking, your coworkers won’t judge you.”

Bill Schwalbe – Director of Finance

“Get as much natural light as possible.”

Alex Read – Software Engineer

“Try to keep a pattern in your daily activities and schedule similar tasks on the same day.”

RJ Jacques – Digital Marketing Manager

“Take twenty minutes in the morning to drink your coffee, wake up fully, and think through your day before getting started. Stand and stretch while you’re on calls. And consider yourself lucky. Working from home means you have a level of security that many others don’t right now.”

Chelsea Caltuna – Technical Content Creator

“Make a schedule and stick to it – when you’re working from home, it can be easy to lose track of time and overwork yourself. Take time-outs from Slack or your communication software of choice to focus. Just let your team know you’re taking one and give them an alternate way to reach you. And hide the TV remotes.”

Courtney Kiely – Director of Marketing

“I just put this song on repeat for hours on end.”

Ken Miller – Director of Research & Development