Five ways to rock working ‘free-range’

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Umbrellar Connect

As covid continues to drag on, more organisations are looking at the 'free-range' way of working - but there's definitely an art to working away from the office. Tune in to these pointers on how to be productive and healthy- wherever you're working from.

The traditional routines of commuting to work five days a week, along with tussles over meeting rooms and water-cooler chats, suffered major shakeups over the past two years, and to be honest, many of us aren’t too sad about it. A majority of workplaces and employees are now considering a more flexible working model, which is why the latest buzzword you’ll be hearing around the Teams chat is “free-range” – the ability to work from home, the office, a co-working space or even a cafe.

However, it’s not as simple as making sure you have a reliable internet connection and a laptop. The habits of working in an office environment have developed over decades, so it’s reasonable to expect first-time free-rangers to feel a bit anxious about their new-found flexibility. We’ve gathered some expert advice and apps to help you get into the groove with your new working arrangement.

1. Practice a bit of self-care

No matter how tempting to stay in PJs all day, prioritise your health, hygiene and self-image to boost motivation and productivity. Take a thought of how you’ll appear in a webcam. Don’t feel you need to be glammed up – but taking the time to look professional and presentable actually helps with overall mindset. It makes you feel more controlled, focused and confident, as well as building a morning routine that will get you mentally prepared for work. Taking care of yourself will help you be refreshed, revitalised, and on form to tackle whatever life throws at you, too.

2. Set and work toward objectives

Your time is valuable – so do all you can to make things easy for yourself. Set a daily rise-up and wind-down ritual and be clear on your objectives. Kris Carr, New York Times best-selling wellness activist, says we should batch our activities to help with structuring – “Whenever possible, batch activities like meetings, inbox time, etc. together on your calendar. That way you’ll have long periods of dedicated focus to work toward your top objectives.”

Recommended apps for structuring your remote work:

DONE – A sleek habit tracker that helps you re-jig and re-focus your WFH lifestyle for daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals, along clean progress bars.

FOCUS KEEPER – Keep your productivity at its max while avoiding burnout, with customisable tasks and focus sessions, time-keeping, and regular breaks that are key for your wellbeing.  

TOGGL – Need to track your time to the minute? Toggl is widely recommended – as well as tracking your time, it generates insightful reports across all devices, to help you learn how much your time is worth.


3. Kindness is key

The last two years have been full of uncertainty – and we’re certainly not out of the woods yet. But here you are – still plugging away and now with an opportunity for the kind of flexible working most of us only dreamed of a few years ago. Being grateful has proven health benefits, so savour each day and your opportunity to make a positive difference in the world.

Our top apps for staying present:

INSIGHT TIMER – Choose from 40,000 guided meditations and talks from world-renowned experts, neuroscientists, scientists and teachers, alongside tracks from leading musicians.

REFLECTLY – This personal journal will teach you the science of well-being, creating opportunities for self-reflection to help you move away from negativity and towards positive thinking.

OAK – A meditation and breathing app intended to help both beginners and experts with the art of mindfulness.


4. Connect and re-invent

Times of massive disruption and change are not new – there are always actions we can take now, to build a better tomorrow. Use this time to stay collaborative with your teams and peer groups to exchange ideas and opportunities. As Simon Sinek, author of ‘Start With Why’ and ‘The Infinite Game’, said in a team meeting on LinkedIn, “It’s not ‘how will we get through this?’, it’s ‘how are we going to change to get through this?’”

Our top apps for a forward-focused mindset:

CURATOR – Get those thoughts organised! Curator allows you to collect visual inspiration, create mood boards and refine your visual storytelling – as well as export, share, present and collaborate with your team.

NOTION  – Take notes in fully integrated way; link between pages, embed images and export as web pages or PDFs.


5. Create a workplace sanctuary for inspiration to flow

In your new working environment, may creative ideas and peaceful productivity flow…

If you’re working from home, you’re going to be dealing with kids on holidays, noisy neighbours, and household distractions. It may seem hard to find your zen at first, so be targeted with your boundaries. Your ‘office’ needs to be associated only with work, and as it’s a permanent way of working, there’s no way you should be setting up shop at your kitchen table, bed or other typically home life area.

Our top apps for getting your feng-shui flowing:

FREEDOM – block the distractions of social media, emails and other distracting online noise and stay focused. An essential if you struggle with procrastination!

CALM  –  create your perfect soundscape of nature noises with this app, scientifically proven to help with work, as well as sleep, and relaxation.

DIARYZAPP  – Need a boredom buster for the kids, while WFH? This interactive journaling helps children craft their literacy skills, while also entertaining their imagination and creativity.

If you’re struggling with motivation, try heading to your local cafe or the library for a few hours one or two days a week. You’d be surprised how a change of scenery can really help with creativity – and having a nice coffee and treat replaces all the birthday morning teas you’re going to miss now you’re free-range.

It’s not possible to change the way you work without changing your mindset and habits in the process. And realistically, when done right, free-range working can be great for business.  Umbrellar’s got your back to help you survive and thrive in the virtual world – and we practice what we preach, adopting the free-range way of working for our employees

Michelle Stanton, Umbrellar’s Marketing and Partnerships Specialist, has recently made the transition to free-range work, having moved from our home base of New Zealand to her home country of Australia.

Whilst she loves the fact she can continue to work for her preferred employer whilst reconnecting with family, there are certain challenges that come with being permanently remote from the office. She’s used most of the tips, tricks and apps in this article to build a healthy working routine. She especially likes the days where she works from a local cafe (and yes, there is most definitely coffee and treats involved).

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Umbrellar Connect

Umbrellar Connect is the leading multi-media hub for New Zealand's tech innovations. We keep you informed on the need-to-know impact stories, the trends shaping our world, and the tech enabling us to go further.


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