Recently, Melissa Teng had the rare opportunity to get creative with her bathtub at home.
Teng, the co-founder and creative director at lifestyle blog Wit and Folly, was working on a social media project with a skincare line. She set up her bathtub space with lights, candles, and bath bubbles. Then, she put herself in the tub as the model.
If this were any another time, Teng might have hired someone else to model for the project, but that simply isn’t possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals everywhere are following social distancing, and staying at home to help minimize public health risk of the coronavirus.
In many respects, social media professionals may actually be best positioned to make a successful transition to remote work from home - this job can be done literally anywhere in the world, as long as you have the proper equipment and a WiFi connection.
Yet even so, for most, this will be a significant transition. So what are the key secrets to maximizing your productivity in social media management when working from home?
I spoke with several social practitioners to get their insights into #WFH success.
Create structure and routine
DeeAnn Sims-Knight, tyhe founder of Dark Horse PR, is currently working remote with her team members. In order to make the transition into remote work, she reiterates the importance of creating daily structure and routine, which can have a direct impact on overall performance.
“When working from home, wake up at your usual time, shower, and get ready for work just as you would if you were coming into the office."
Sims-Knight advices that people should try to stick to a schedule as much as possible throughout the day. Each circumstance will be different, depending on your work from home environment, but establishing structure early on is key for succeeding now with remote work, as well as later when you return to a traditional office setting.
If you don’t create a schedule primarily to support your own WFH habits, do it in consideration of your clients and team members.
“Setting a schedule ensures you’re available and reliable to your clients and fellow employees.”
Time batch your work
Several social media professionals I spoke with also emphasized the importance of time-batching your workload.
Jenay Rose, the founder and CEO of Namaste Jenay Inc., says this WFH tip enables everyone to be at their most efficient and productive.
“If you have a bunch of similar tasks to do, like writing emails or captions for a client, organize those tasks to work on them together. This helps you avoid task switching so you can better find that flow.”
Make sure you have the proper equipment and a dedicated workspace
Brandi Mowles is a Facebook and Instagram ad strategist at Brandi and Company LLC, and her key tip for maximizing WFH productivity is defining a clear workspace within your home environment.
Mowles has taken this to the next level, building her own studio to facilitate social content creation, complementing her existing home office space.
“Instead of a webcam, I have a DSLR, and I've upgraded my lighting and learned how to do some pretty cool streaming tricks.”
Creating a studio has enabled Mowles to keep testing various forms of content, experiment, and get creative. Of course, not everyone will have the capacity or space to build an in-home studio fit for purpose, but you can still establish a dedicated workspace within your home. This should be a defined area that you work from daily, which feels professional and enables you to organize and lay-out everything that you're using for your work.
Trying to figure out the proper equipment that social media pros need on hand?
Melissa Clem, the owner of Become Intertwined, a boutique social media agency in Southern California, says that these are some of the key tools that you should consider:
- Standing desk or computer stand - If you don’t feel like you’re active enough, this will help you get up and on your feet.
- Phone stand - Mount your phone on a stand to avoid shaky handheld camerawork on a smartphone.
- Surfaces for shooting flat lays and details - Think polished and professional photography backdrops, like those available from Replica Surfaces
- Lighting - Clem recommends using as much natural light as possible - however that's contingent on what you’re shooting from home. Consider investing in a Ring Light with a stand for selfies, DIY tutorials, and videos. Clem also recommends using a lightbox for detail and product shots.
Set clear communication expectations with the team
Jaime Huffman runs a social media agency called Charleston Blonde in Charleston, South Carolina, and her entire staff is now working remote.
Huffman says that the most difficult part of the adjustment to WFH is not being able to physically sit with, and bounce ideas off the team together.
“Normally, we talk and interact constantly all day - some of my favorite moments are when we are sitting around, talking, joking, and coming up with creative ideas for our clients.”
Now, Huffman and her team engage frequently from their remote spaces with the help of Basecamp - through Basecamp, they're able to upload ad design ideas and edit copy together. They also video chat daily on Zoom, where they're able to see one another on screen.
Huffman credits clear and concise communication strategies for their team’s remote work success. She advises that managers should set fair and attainable expectations for remote work from the very beginning, as that provides team members the flexibility to work on their own schedules, while still understanding what's expected, and when.
Additionally, Huffman advises that managers should seek to maintain awareness of the stresses and hardships that their team members are going through amid the current situation. Making sure to express gratitude is one simple measure to keep in mind in this respect.
“You can never thank your team members enough when they are doing a good job for you. When people feel appreciated, they work harder. My team continues to work hard because they feel appreciated.”
Create a turn off routine
You have a routine for powering on at the start of the day - now you also need one that enables you to turn off from social media as much as possible.
Some tips to help:
- Go for a walk after powering down - “I listen to a podcast or something that gets me in personal mode,” Rose says. “I also like to meditate and move my body with a quick workout.”
- Take 15 minutes to plan for tomorrow - Mowles likes to do this before shutting the computer down and exiting her home studio. “When I leave the office, I am now in ‘mom mode.’”
- Clean off your computer - Teng powers down her computer and enjoys a cup of tea, while cleaning off her computer and workspace for tomorrow.
As a final pro tip, remember that the end of work time you establish for yourself must be as firm as the one for the start of the day.
Setting end of the day hours, as Clem points out, is the best way to unplug, relax, and turn everything off - just as much as any social media pro would do in a traditional office setting.