Avoiding COVID-19: How Does a Product Manager “Own” Working From Home?
With Covid-19 cases rising, companies are becoming increasingly concerned for the health and safety of their own workforce. Therefore, we thought it was time we did our bit for our beloved product management sector.
It’s not uncommon for companies to offer remote working, even before the Coronavirus outbreak. However, some employees (including product managers) have been told they have to work from home to prevent Covid-19 from spreading further.
Product Managers are the glue holding teams together. They’re faced with the demanding task of driving new products through development to meet customer needs. Can such an integral role work remotely and still achieve success?
Our Chief Customer Officer, Liz Love, took to Twitter to ask product managers if they had any tips for working at home while Covid-19 continues. Liz is a remote worker at ProdPad, and therefore knows how important it is to get your WFH setup just right.
“The Covid-19 outbreak has pushed product managers into working environments that they might not be accustomed to. As a remote worker I know that it takes a little time to get set-up and establish a successful ‘working from home routine.’ It doesn’t happen overnight. I took to Twitter to see if we could get some handy tips and advice to help those who are no longer able to be office based.“Liz Love, Chief Customer Officer.
Working from home and giving Covid-19 a wide berth? Here are some top tips from our friends in the product management industry:
Look after your mental wellbeing
Work in a room with a closable door – you need to be able to shut yourself off from distractions including (unfortunately) family members, house mates, pets (nooooo 😭) and it also makes it psychologically easier to ignore the lure of the fridge or the TV etc— Eddie Harrison 📦 (@ProductEddie) March 9, 2020
Have your meals on time. Manage the Slack Notifications don’t get overwhelmed.— Bhaskar Mishra (@bhaskar_mishra) March 9, 2020
This is a good life hack: When working from home, commit to an iron rule that you’ll dinner together as a family early, say 6pm. You’ll have to knock off by 5.30pm to prepare, so you won’t overwork. A simple habit that firmly bookends a workday and also raises wellbeing!— Matt Stratford (@mattstratford) March 10, 2020
For me personally there were a couple of key things:— Duncan Epping (@DuncanYB) March 10, 2020
– have a room with a door
– have a “do not disturb” sign for when doing calls
– take time to make the family understand “working from home means you are working”
– Use zoom/slack etc for keeping in touch with colleagues
Check your ‘Work Vs Life Balance’ boundaries
Working from home is WORKING. It takes discipline both to focus & to communicate with others, esp. those who may also be experiencing the remote work life for the first time— Saeed Khan (@saeedwkhan) March 9, 2020
Set a routine, dress for work, set a formal work place. Over commuicate. DON’T rely on Slack. Don’t.
prob with working from home is that often you end up working more. As there is no way to verify your working hours then unconsciously you put more hours in. So keep it in mind.— TheOne (@Bright_Gate) March 9, 2020
Work a 9-5 or whatever set times work for you.— Will Barritt (@meowingcarrot) March 9, 2020
Working from home means that there is no difference between being at home and being at work. I find myself working extra long days without realising. My partner may eat dinner alone because I “just want to finish this task”
Self-discipline is key. Make sure when you “go to work” you do just that. Try to keep to work routines, coffee breaks, lunch etc. Similarly, don’t work yourself to death, make sure you get the same breaks you would normally and don’t feel bad for taking them.— Allen Heard (@AllenHeard) March 10, 2020
Never stop communicating
Number 1. Build trust and trust in others. It can be easy to feel like you need to be observed to be working or worse like you suspect a teammate isn’t pulling their weight. stop that now. Remote is a great opportunity for build trust through more thoughtful communication.— Ben Dowen (@dowenb) March 9, 2020
Seriously over communicate, but respect people’s DND boundaries. Easier to be disconnected remotely, but also easier to overwhelm teammates who are heads down. The magic is finding the balance for your team.— Emily Patterson (@epatt6) March 9, 2020
Make sure you get face time with everyone on your team. It helps to schedule 121s and not only talk about work-related stuff… Be transparent on what you are working on, find a good balance between over- and undersharing with your team, e.g. on Slack.— Jennifer Michelmann (@alsterfalter) March 9, 2020
Make yourself available for the team via chat messaging services of your company, so that they can push any question to get quick clarification.— Nurul Amin (@acmnamin) March 9, 2020
Join daily standup with video feed.
Request team to take photo of visual scrumban/kanban board and share with you everyday.
(Not a PM but tech lead and worked lots with remote PMs) My biggest tip: turn your video on in every call, even (especially) if nobody else is doing it. Can completely change the dynamics of the conversation.— Philip Kendall (@jorallan) March 10, 2020
Agendas a must, written shared and stuck to with follow up minutes and actions – shared and updated live to view often works – word or one note and records of attendees, apologies not just an invite list so record of who agreed to what— Rachel Berry (@rhbBSE) March 10, 2020
And, be mindful of your online tone
A lot of your communication is going to be via audio or written messages. This means it can be easy to misinterpret the way in which a colleague has said something to you. Don’t take it personally; it can be really easy to misunderstand the tone of a comment if you’re not working face-to-face.
Thank you to everyone who submitted a response, we really appreciate it. The ProdPad app is great for teams with remote workers. Please get in touch if you’d like to chat about how we can help. We hope the Covid-19 virus can be managed effectively to secure the safety for everyone.