As parts of the world shelter in place, Amazon’s corporate office employees have been working from their homes to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Around the globe, Amazon Pay employees have be adjusting to the challenges and opportunities that come with working from home, like finding the balance between working and parenting, adopting fluid working hours, and experimenting with new ways to stay busy and engaged.
To help us adjust to these lifestyle changes, we’ve compiled some our employees’ experiences of working from home, to provide a little inspiration for our customers and community.
Working from home
Amazon Pay employees have provided a number of tips, tricks and tools to stay productive and effective while working from home. With so many tips, we’ve separated them into three categories: setting up the home office, staying connected, and handling the changes in our routines.
The WFH setup
Dedicating space – Employees have noticed that when you devote a section of a room or designate one area of the home to working, it can cut down on distractions. One employee uses sheets to divide their space into a makeshift office, claiming it cuts down on an echo during conference calls.
Saving your back – Working at a desk that isn’t setup properly can be a pain, both mentally and physically. One employee recommended using core sliders for working at a standing desk or a countertop.
Lighting matters – Whether it’s the glare of the sun or working in a poorly lit room, lighting will affect your productivity and mood. One hot tip from an employee was to make sure your workstation is perpendicular to the window for an optimal setup.
Making it personable – Our employees have found that video calls can help humanize a collaboration and feel connected—not to mention help us all remember those social norms and communicate effectively. This is especially true for 1:1 calls. With larger video calls of 25+ people, the policy is a little different: only use video when speaking, responding, or waiting to speak.
Water-cooler chatting – Whether it’s at work or outside of work, there has been a big increase in “water-cooler invites” on the calendar, as well as 15-30 minute daily or biweekly “virtual hangs.” Some teams are doing this through a chat room and others are doing a video conference to feel some of that coworker comradery that can be missing at a distance. What people have found is that these invites are most successful when they’re really just “hangs,” with no obligation and no standing agenda.
Virtual coworker hanging – Similar to water-cooler hangs these are 1:1 engagements that employees have been participating in to replace the in-person coffee, lunch, or happy hour with bosses, coworkers, and mentors.
The WFH routine
Tightening up your schedule – Multiple employees have found that setting boundaries around their working hours was paramount, because it was too easy without their typical commute to start working early and “stay” late. By setting firm expectations with their team about their hours, and keeping a regular schedule, these employees were able to feel productive while avoiding burnout.
Making walks routine – Without going to meetings, taking breaks, or going out to grab lunch, many employees have been sitting more than usual—and for longer periods of time. Those of us with dogs already have a reason to go outside on a regular basis, but the rest of us might need to be reminded to get out of our seats. One employee found it valuable to take a one-hour break for lunch to walk around their neighborhood.
Blocking your time – As you are tightening up your work schedule, consider implementing new organizational methods to help you stay on track of your tasks. Time blocks are a good way to organize your time and keep yourself to a healthy routine. Be sure to block out time for deep thinking, walking, and lunch, and make sure people understand that you are not free during those windows.
Staying mentally fit – Part of staying engaged at work is being able to find your focus. One of our employees also blocks out mindfulness time during their workday, using the app Headspace to meditate. We also have teams doing yoga together—and Amazon Pay’s head of marketing has even been leading a thirty minute, bi-weekly virtual mindfulness gathering for anyone on the marketing team who wants to join. During the gathering, she leads everyone on a guided meditation, and gives them a chance to connect, offer gratitude, or just be there with others.
Beyond the virtual office, employees have been engaging in all sorts of activities to stay positive—focusing on building habits that help them stay healthy and balanced, and doing the things they enjoy the most.
Staying connected – We talked about ways employees are staying connected at work, but it’s just as valuable to stay connected when you aren’t working. Loneliness is real. One of our employees shared a great article that highlights four ways to prevent loneliness while you’re social distancing.
Learning – Keeping your mind engaged when outside of your 9-5 is also important to your health. Freecodecamp.com recommends these 75 Coursera Certificates that people can earn for free while they’re spending more time inside.
Practicing yoga and meditation – Yoga and meditation aren’t just good for keeping you professionally engaged—they’re good for your health and wellbeing outside of the office, too. One employee starts their day with a morning meditation and ends their evening with a yoga session. #Namaste
Keeping it upbeat – We’ve been breaking out the puzzles and games, taking advantage of the weekends inside. Employees have also been circulating their TV and movie recommendations. One employee suggested you check out Bad Banks, a German TV series.
Wearing our chef apron – For some, the kitchen is where to find comfort, and a way to provide joy for others. This could be the right time to refine a new dish. After all, food is the way to many of our hearts. One of our employees recently conquered lemon madeleines— “it only took me three tries to get them perfect.” She’s provided a link to buy a Madeleine pan, and try out the recipe.
Working from home hasn’t just effected our work and social lives, family life has also shifted while we’re sheltering in place. School closures and physical distancing measures have meant that it’s not just parents working from home—the kids are home, too. For many of us, this has been a lot to navigate. Fortunately, we have an inventive team that has compiled a host of resources to help the whole family through this current moment.
Studying math – When it comes to remote learning, math has been a popular topic among a number of parents at Amazon Pay. A few resources they recommend are Dreambox, a math program for kids in kindergarten through 8th grade; the Mathantics Channel on YouTube, a fantastic resource from former math teachers explaining mathematic concepts; and Dragonbox, an award-winning series of educational math apps, one of which gamifies algebra.
General learning – For general learning, we found some incredible tools to keep kids engaged. For example, Code.org provides tutorials for kids to learn and practice coding. The OverDrive App is essentially a virtual library letting you and your kids borrow ebooks and audiobooks from your local public library, but it does require a library card. For further virtual exploration, the YouTube: What If Channel provides some wonderful short videos exploring hypothetical situations, like “What if we settled on the moon?” And Travel + Leisure put together a 12 museum virtual tour that allows your family to experience the best museums, from London to Seoul, all from the comfort of your own home. Audible is also a great resource for streaming hundreds of stories for kids and families.
Keeping kids busy – It can be a challenge to keep kids busy during the work week and over long weekends when they’re cooped up inside. Luckily, our employees have found inspiration in a few places, including How to work from home if you have kids – 9 pro tips; 50 activities to keep kids busy; 50 surefire ways to entertain your kid while you’re working; Fun things to do with kids that don’t require technology; and our favorite— Superhero workouts for kids. Remember: These fun activities don’t just have to be for the kids.
Get the latest Amazon Pay updates and insights delivered right to your inbox.