In a more traditional sense, home used to be the escape from work. Now that many of us are under self-quarantine or our offices have shut down, home seems to have become the new office, which can come with its additional challenges.

Humans are creatures of habit, so for them to switch to a different mindset is usually very painful. Once people learn to adjust quickly, they will thrive. From what I have been witnessing, however, I think the majority of workers actually are upset that they don’t know how to even handle things working remotely because this is not something they’re used to or have attempted.

For the past three years since starting Virtudesk, I have had the opportunity to mostly work from home. And from my experience from running a business remotely, I couldn’t stress enough the importance of starting my day off right.

First, you should be waking up as if you’re going to commute to work. If you can, get some exercise in, eat a little breakfast, and get ready as if people besides your family members are going to see you.

The routine shouldn’t stop there though — it should continue throughout the day.

My rule of thumb of maintaining a productive work schedule is pretty simple – If it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t exist.

Go ahead, plan your day out step-by-step, so you know exactly what you should be doing when you’re doing it. This tactic will not only help you remain concentrated, but it will give you a sense of accomplishment when you’re able to cross all of your tasks off the list.

Yet, there is one more important element you should consider. The thing is, the digital technology that we have is great, but they will overwhelm you because you have 10 different methods of communication, with all kinds of apps. What I usually do is just go for a walk in the neighborhood just to get my head cleared or at least do a digital detox for about an hour so I could get back and concentrate on things. Try it to keep a healthy level of life consciousness.

So, if you take anything away today, know that work-life balance is key. Create goals for yourself to maintain focus, as well as resting periods to take a break, and keep your mind going. Right now, whether you’re thinking about working from home or the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, just know we’re in it for a marathon and a sprint.

Focus Particularly on Building and Maintaining Relationships

As COVID-19 spreads, we turn on the news to hear more about our strained healthcare system, directions from federal governments to stay indoors, and many orders to shut down non-essential offices. It’s fair to say that a lot of people, especially businesses, are scared with what the future holds — because right now, we really don’t know what’s going to happen.

There are two things that you should focus on in a crisis like this, the first being your employees. In Virtudesk, we view our employees as a large family. They’re our major assets. We love our clients, but more importantly, we love our people who work for us, and that gives them hope.

It’s really important, especially due to the fact that around 200 of our employees are from Manila, which is in a total state of lockdown. All of Manila’s metro system is shut down, and residents are subjected to their homes, with only the permittance to leave for food and medical assistance.

To ease the fears of our employees we record a video and send it to the team to give them words of encouragement of what’s going on, at least just to give them some positive news. For example, I saw that China’s Wuhan is almost recovered and slowly getting back to normal life, and South Korea is doing better. Not only giving the perspective of the media, but pretty much my thoughts. It goes a long way to them, and it gives people hope that they’re still needed.

Just by sharing these things with employees through a routine morning message, we have received a generous amount of gratitude from employees. In this crisis, running on a culture of empathy is almost necessary, as it will bring comfort to your employees, rather than insecurity and fears for their job.

The second focus, which might be slightly more obvious than the first, is your customers. Number one priority we put before our team is to reach out to each one of the customers that we have and check on them and just to see what’s going on without even trying to sell or upsell anything else. That’s number one and people feel it.

Now is not the time to scramble or force sales. No doubt about it, watching the cash flow of your business dwindle is intimidating. But your best bet right now is if you reflect for a moment, take a deep breath, and consider what would be best for your company in the long run.

If you decide right now is the best time to play defense, and show a little compassion to your customers, right now you might lose some battles. Just so you know, these acts of humanity, however, won’t go unpaid.

That culture of empathy that you build will take you a long way, will actually help your business be more successful when all this craziness dies out because people may not remember what you do, but they remember how you do it and that’s what really gets in people’s minds.

It’s Not Business as Usual: Recognizing Differences and Preparing for the Future

As many of you already know, America’s business is business. In this midst of this global crisis, if you have the means to keep pushing forward, try your best. Though it’s more likely for COVID-19 to get worse before it gets better, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t going to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Rather than focusing on a project that is too difficult to complete out of office, focus your company’s attention elsewhere for the time being. Dust off old projects that got benched because you had other imminent things to do. Maybe consider revamping your online platform, develop something new, just make sure you’re doing something that can add value to your brand. There are things that you can do, you just need to keep an open mind.

We at Virtudesk have been refocusing our attention on developing Timedly. It’s a screenshot time-tracking software that allows remote employees to be tracked by the employer or the manager. We’ve been using it for three years, now we’re toying around with an idea of actually selling it to companies who have older employees working from home now.

(Virtudesk had lemons, and now they’re making lemonade.)

Pivoting in any industry is the key to not only surviving, but to growing. If you see that something is not working out, you need to figure out that pivot strategy in order to stay afloat.

So, while we are at home, do not stumble. Find new ways to maximize your company’s efficiency, so that when all of this blows over, you’re able to go back to work almost like nothing happened.

Though we might have to wait a while to resume our normal activities, this moment has the possibility of being only a snippet of our whole picture.

Just remember, stay safe, stay positive, and you will be able to get through this!