Getting customers to approve case studies that provide third-party endorsement of your products and services can be hard. Indeed, when we meet prospective science and engineering clients they often tell us that they have tried doing case studies, but could never get them approved. So they went into the ‘too hard to do’ box. That’s a shame. Because case studies prove that you don’t just talk a great game, you actually play a great game. However, there is no need to despair. Just follow these tried and tested steps and you can significantly improve your chances of approval.
The single most common mistake is to research and draft a case study, and then present it to your customer for review. If they decide not to approve you have wasted a considerable amount of time and effort in the process. Instead, before you write a single word, approach your customer for outline approval. This should be along the lines “we would like to write a case study about the work we have done for you, would you have any problems in approving it”? If the answer is no, then you know upfront. Very little time and money is wasted and you can move on to the next opportunity.
From experience, many customers really appreciate that they have been asked for outline approval rather than assuming that it will be granted. They also like to know why you are asking, why the case study will be important for you and how you intend to use it.
Ask the right people
It is absolutely critical that you seek approval from the right people at the appropriate levels. Of course, it is important to get outline approval from the project managers and procurement people you work with on a day to day basis. Your approval will go nowhere without their blessing. But they rarely have the final say. You need to get your approval ratified by the people ultimately responsible for you customer’s reputation – which will be their communications team.
Detail what you need
Your main aim is probably to create a case study sheet that you can use on your website and as a sales aid. There are though many other ways to use case studies, possibly as press releases, as the basis for feature articles and in brochures. When you ask for outline approval, be sure to detail all the ways that you expect to use the case study in future. That saves having to go back for further approvals.
Also, you will need good images to illustrate the story, so you might need permission to take photographs. And for very important stories video will be needed. Include your needs for photography and video in the initial request.
Sometimes, you will need a case study for a particular event, such as an exhibition. If there is a hard deadline you are working to then let your customer know and they can advise you if approval by then is feasible.
Go the extra mile
It is entirely feasible to research and write a case study from your desk. But I would always recommend, where possible, going to the site and meeting your customer. Seeing the story for yourself will give you the extra detail that makes the story fly. And there is a real benefit in meeting the people who will finally approve your drafts. Once they have met you face to face, and had a coffee with you, they buy into the whole process. And that all helps to smooth the way for prompt and easy approval.
Put approval in the contract
If you are working on a project or order that is really important for you to publicise then consider making the right to carry out publicity an integral part of the contract. The customer can only say no if you suggest this. And I have known this to be a useful factor in the contract negotiation process.
Help nurture an approval culture
I am staggered at the number of companies, often large multi-nationals, who will not allow third-party case studies as a matter of policy. Yet these very same companies have web sites where they proudly feature case studies about their own customers. We live in a world where the supplier/customer role can quickly interchange. Personally, I advise our clients, where possible, to always agree to case study requests. Because you never know when your supplier might become a customer.
Gaining approvals can seem a daunting process. But they can become a joy by following the simple steps outlined above. And the process gets even faster and easier when you work with a consultancy steeped in the case study business like TopLine. Not only can we create a case study from initial research to final approval, but we will also handle the approvals from start to finish. To find out how we can help you with your own case studies please get in touch.
Written by: Andrew Bartlett, Director at TopLine Comms
We’ve been quiet for long enough: Here’s how you run a virtual event
It’s safe to say that most people’s plans for 2020 have changed significantly. Many of the summer events we were looking forward to, from Glastonbury to Wimbledon, have been postponed or canceled as a result of Covid-19. It’s not just the events industry, sportspeople or musicians that are taking the hit, though, the B2B sector is too. On average, a B2B brands spend 29% of their annual marketing budgets on events, which serve as an invaluable networking opportunity.
Big events on the marketing calendar, such as MWC Barcelona, have been delayed, while others like SXSW have moved online. At TopLine, we’ve hosted our share of media events, both online and in-person, and although our humble B2B PR agency’s events aren’t quite on the scale of MWC or SXSW, we’re pretty proud of what we’ve achieved. Our roundtables for Spencer Ogden were a huge success, contributing to 11 award nominations, and we recently ran a virtual roundtable of experts for Impero, together with TopLine Film, which produced live and on-demand content.
Our team has attended plenty of virtual events over the past few weeks, and we’ve collected some insights about what works – and what doesn’t. Here are some suggestions together for brands that are looking to reach potential leads and influencers with an online event.
Consider the audience
It may sound obvious, but it’s essential to know who you want to attend your event before you start planning. The intended audience will determine the content and format, since you need to provide something that incentivises them to tune in. If you’re planning media events, ask yourself what exclusive information or access to spokespeople you can offer. To attract prospects, consider what you can teach them. If you’re hoping to reach customers, think back to past feedback about what they want from the brand and think about how to provide it.
Once you have determined the audience, the format of the event will naturally start to take shape. The right platform to choose is the one that is most familiar and accessible to your audience, while the ideal schedule needs is considerate of their other plans. We may be working from home, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we can take time out of our day.
Get creative with the format
We’re all experiencing a bit of ‘Zoom fatigue’ with the surfeit of online events recently, so anything that you can do to differentiate your event from the painfully familiar format will be extremely welcome. Consider what your audience wants: Are they expecting to be blown away by showmanship, or would they prefer a simple but powerful discussion?
A roundtable or panel is a classic format, and it’s great for stoking debate and providing insight on an important issue. An ‘ask me anything’ is a more casual format, and by its nature it feels more intimate and personal, so it’s better suited to a smaller audience. A webinar is a great way to explore something in-depth, making it the ideal choice for a well-informed niche audience.
Content that engages
Whereas an in-person event is focused and hard to leave, people are typically at home during a virtual event. That means that they’re surrounded by distractions and they can walk away at any moment. To keep viewers engaged, you need to fulfil your side of the value proposition. In other words, you need to give people what they came for and keep everything else to a minimum.
It’s also important to consider opportunities for interaction, since this is a great way to keep the audience on their toes. There are several ways to integrate participation, from taking questions through chat, live polling, or even forming breakaway discussion groups, and you can choose whichever suits your event best.
Establish rules of engagement
Set out a clear schedule so that the audience knows what to expect and when, and ensure that everybody knows the platform, the address and password for the event well ahead of time. If the event is live, it should also be clear whether the content will be available after the fact or if it’s a one-off.
Finally, before the event takes place you should have a clear idea on how speakers and the audience will engage with one another. Establishing some ground rules helps to prevent people from talking over one another while still ensuring everyone has their say.
If you’re looking for advice on an online event – or other creative ways to keep your brand at front of mind – get in touch with us today.
Written by: Katy Bloomfield, Head of Client Relations
Digital PR Case Study: Compleat Software
Finance and budget management software specialist Compleat Software, needed to raise its profile and generate inbound leads
We quickly recognised Compleat’s website and natural expertise gave them great potention to boost their lead gen, so we recommended a PR-led SEO campaign. We:
- Identified keyword targets with high lead gen potential
- Recommended new landing pages to capture these leads and convert them
- Identified technical website elements that needed to fixing. These included internal linking, redirect chains and canonicals
Once these fundamentals were complete, we embarked on the digital PR element of the strategy, including
- PR-led followed links and brand mentions from super contextually relevant publications which we knew would associate them as an authority with search engines
In 18 months the campaign delivered:
- 20+ new keyword-optimised landing pages
- 48 pieces of contextually relevant tier one coverage (including Financial Director, Accounting Web, AAT, Accountancy Age, The Independent and City AM)
- 30 followed links from these publications with an average domain authority of 44
- Average keyword ranking improvement of 22 places
- Domain authority increase from 25 to 30
- 50% increase in sitewide organic traffic
- 93 leads
“TopLine Comms’ PR-led SEO strategy resulted in record high keyword rankings and increases in organic traffic and organic leads. We’d highly recommend them.”
Rory Forbes, Chief Growth Officer, Compleat Software Limited
Find out more about our digital PR services.Which B2B lead generation techniques are right for you?
B2B lead generation: it’s a tricky one! Much harder than bee-to-bee lead generation, which is mostly affected by ecological factors such as vegetation and local colony density.
Luckily for you, we’ve worked with over 100 B2B companies to drive leads, and we know what works and what doesn’t – and how the secret formula for success is different for every company.
Organic search engine optimisation (SEO)
Organic SEO (check out our SEO services) gives you the chance to capture prospects at the precise moment where they need your services. Do it properly, and it’ll blow your competitors’ faces clean off their skulls. If you’re ranked first (or thereabouts) for the right search terms on Google, you will see your brand grow immeasurably.
On the other hand, organic SEO is a long, lonely road (because of Google’s intermittent updates and algorithm changes, you might find what worked one day is killing you the very next – you have to keep doing it in order to see results). It also takes ages to see good results: ranking for key terms can take months, even years. Finally, securing the help of an agency that knows what it’s doing is easier said than done.
If you need quick and dirty custom, a good way to get it is to pay for it. Promoted campaigns via services such as AdWords can be organised in as little as three hours, give you microscopic control over your budget – and offer many of the advantages typically associated with unpaid SEO, where you have to work at it for ages.
On the flipside, it’s pretty hard to find a genuine expert to help you rank within the first few results, the success – or failure – of the campaign depends largely on whether or not people are actually searching for your thing, and it doesn’t get cheaper over time, so if you’re struggling to afford it and it doesn’t work, it could be a pretty costly mistake.
When content marketing works, it works like nothing else. Good content, managed well, can coax customers over the line when they need your services; it can generate leads forever (or for as long as there’s an internet, anyway), and it’s pretty good value: you’ll have to put some money behind marketing software and actually producing the stuff, but there aren’t any ongoing costs to speak of.
On the other hand, while there are some general pointers that are always useful – don’t misspell things, don’t write anything inappropriate, etc. etc. – it’s really hard to find people who know how to do this effectively, in terms of hooking an audience, sustaining their interest, and, most importantly, making them act.
Don’t let Death of a Salesman fool you: people do appreciate the personal touch, so long as that touch isn’t too personal. Charisma, an easy smile, and a bit of gentle encouragement can win the day – even if your competitor has a better or more cost-effective product.
But be forewarned: salespeople can be expensive, and if they’re not attracting and converting leads on a regular basis, they’re essentially a financial metaphorical albatross around your company’s metaphorical neck.
People really don’t like telemarketers. You almost have to admire the patience, persistence, and emotional resilience of those who do it. But there’s a reason it’s still a thing: if the outbound caller is good enough – and takes pains to do it in a non-intrusive way, i.e. following up about a gift sent in the post – they can get great results in a way that costs far less than direct sales.
With the advent of digital channels – and with daily circulation and viewership dwindling – it’s easy to assume that old-fashioned print and broadcast advertising are on the way out. Easy, perhaps, but still a mistake: TV, newspapers, and magazines boast a wide reach, and offer you full control over your messaging within the ad space.
That said, it’s still pretty expensive, and you can’t tinker with it once it’s out there: it either works or it doesn’t.
A more surreptitious version of in-person sales, but useful because you’re talking ‘founder-to-founder’ or ‘marketing director-to-founder’, removing much of the power imbalance present when a junior salesperson is trying to impress a plainly disinterested CEO.
It requires a considerable investment of time and energy from senior members of your team, and you’re not guaranteed any kind of meaningful result. However, when networking works, it works.
Generating leads is a pain. Why not share that burden with a partner? It can be difficult to find a simpatico company, of course – and because you’ll have to forfeit some of your profits to your new ‘friend’, it’s understandable if you balk at the cost. But if you’re struggling, buddying up with another business can be a very easy way to generate high quality leads.
A room full of your target audience! What could be better than that? If you can get talking to the right people, you can come away from a trade show with a barrel full of quality leads and a belly full of gratis popcorn.
Of course, yours won’t be the only booth in the hall, and people are far more likely to walk past it without a second thought than indulge in a bit of stop-and-chat. It’s also pretty expensive to set up a booth at all: you have to pay exhibition fees, you have to lose members of staff for entire days to run it, and there’s no guaranteed ROI.
If you’re feeling more lost than ever after all that, don’t worry: it’s perfectly natural. Also unlike bee-to-bee lead generation, it’s more of an art than a science, and there’s no magic formula for success. To get ahead, you’ll need expert help. Luckily, we’re experts – and we’re very, very happy to help – get in touch.
You might also be interested in:
- SEO101: a coronavirus crash course
- Marketing to marketers in 2020
- How to pitch journalists – and get them to say yes
Coronavirus is, understandably, all that anybody is talking about, but what does that mean for pitching PR stories? For answers, we reached out – digitally, from a safe distance – to TV journalist and presenter
How has the coronavirus affected your work?
Almost everyone is working from home, and programs are operating with skeleton crews. We’re leaning heavily on Skype calls and Facetime because we simply can’t get a camera to everyone who appears on the show. I haven’t been out on a job since covering the Tenerife hotel coronavirus lockdown in late February.
However, the news won’t focus on coronavirus forever: we will eventually reach a saturation point as we get on top of the virus. Across TV coverage, we’re already seeing more creative angles as producers look for new ways to cover the virus without revisiting existing reports.
Are you still accepting pitches, and what are you looking for from them?
We certainly are still accepting pitches. We already have an excellent consumer champion, but we’re open to any stories that may currently be under the radar or drowned out by Covid-19 news. I look through the morning papers for inspiration, and where normally I’d see 30 stories we could cover, these days I’m only seeing four or five. While most of society has slowed, news hasn’t stopped happening, so please pitch any stories that you think aren’t getting the coverage they deserve.
With the focus on such a heavy topic, we’re also looking for anything that might offer viewers some light relief. We love a next-level human interest story or story about generosity. There is definitely a desire for other uplifting stories, but there are considerably fewer slots available than usual – but if you have a good one, push it hard and with confidence!
Any advice for PR people pitching stories these days?
Now is the time to be really reactive. Push your story and shout from the rooftops: “This is the leading person who can talk about this subject, and here is what they have got to say!” TV and radio have tonnes of pitches to choose from, and you’re more likely to get on a presenter’s good side by telling them exactly what they are going to hear from the people that you’re pushing if they appear on the show.
Just as in less chaotic times, it’s crucial that you have an understanding of the different shows that you’re pitching to. Watch the show, find out what they like, and then work out where your client fits in. Pitches for This Morning, for instance, must be the sort of stories that people are going to be talking about in their homes or gardens – picture parents having a G&T and a chat. And as always, your emails must stand out – particularly the subject line!
On the show, there’s the strap in the bottom of the screen. In my ideal world, emails would come through in that format with really sharp subject lines, an introduction summing up the story and the press release at the bottom.
What’s a good time of day to pitch? Is there a day of the week you prefer?
For us, there’s no bad time of day. We normally have our forward planning meeting on a Wednesday – I strongly recommend finding out when the planning meetings occur for the shows you’re pitching to. Thursday and Friday are ideal days to pitch for us, since they give us time to plan for the following week.
For social affairs issues, do you prefer a CEO or a worker on the front lines?
For This Morning we prefer people on the front lines, but Good Morning Britain like leaders who can paint a broader picture. It really depends what programme you’re pitching, watch them and find out what they specialise in.
Do you like to hear about brands and how they are helping the cause?
Yes, 100%. I’m always happy to hear about brands, and it’s a great feel-good story if they’re stepping up to help. I recommend forwarding links with your pitches, since it’s easy to miss out on a story and it helps if we can match the spokesperson with the link. If possible, your pitch should include links of your spokesperson talking to other news outlets. We don’t need lots of information, just three or four short, snappy lines that express the story in a way that will grab the viewer’s attention.
A significant PR initiative that caught my eye, although not a brand, was the clap for the NHS. Brands need to be aware of what’s popular on social media, since a lot of TV shows are just as reactive to twitter as they are to the papers. If you can demonstrate that your story is going viral and trending on social, it’s more likely to get picked up.
Are there any areas people should avoid pitching?
Consider think of the impact your story will have, particularly at a time like this. People are anxious and looking for something with a positive spin. I was pitched a story the other day that I think can work in the future. It’s a service that allows people to outline what they want from their funeral. The PR person teased the idea of quirky people with funeral plans, but they needed the one hook to make the producer go ‘wow’ – and the idea of a Star Wars-themed funeral did the trick. Coronavirus won’t be around forever, and some stories can be parked.
If your client is being pushy, take a step back. It’s your responsibility to explain that it’s not a good time for a certain story and explain why. If their pitch does make it to me, I’m not afraid to bring them back down to earth!
Written by: Ben Beckles, Media Relations Consultant
Moving office – behind the scenes
Moving office – behind the scenes
Near the end of 2019, we decided that it was time to find TopLine Comms and TopLine Film a new home. The decision was partly due to company growth, but also because our flexible working policy (which allows our employees to work from home up to twice a week, or to work flexible hours) meant that we weren’t making use of all the desks and space we had. It made sense to rethink our space, so that’s exactly what we did.
As a B2B PR agency in London, we think it’s important to be around other creative companies, in both a flexible and quirky work environment. We didn’t want to add extra time to everyone’s daily commute, so the location was crucial. Plus, the space needed to be dog-friendly and have a really good coffee machine!
Of course, moving office isn’t all glamour and we certainly faced some bumps in the road. This included things like making sure the internet speed was up to scratch in our new serviced office; adjusting to flexible desk spaces; moving furniture and equipment from one office to the other and of course, making sure it felt like home. But we got there in the end and can now safely say that we feel right at home in our new space.
Helpful tips when considering an office move
Before starting the process of moving office, it’s worth making sure that you understand how the IT system works in all the potential new office spaces you look at. This means that once you do make the move, you won’t have any delays or issues and you can be up and running straight away.
Finding a space that fit our criteria was proving to be a bit of a task, so we decided to look into the proptech market (particularly proptech in London) to find a platform that could help us. We found that the company KONTOR was well-suited to finding us a new office space. They asked for our requirements, such as the number of people in our team; how many desks we needed; what our IT requirements were and then went to work on finding us some potential new office spaces.
There are also other proptech companies, such as Hubble, which can provide help when you’re considering making the move. Have a look online at the different proptech apps and services to find what’s best for you – you don’t need to face moving office on your own!
Also, it may really help to use apps such as Citymapper when you’re trying to work out the possible new commute times for your team. It’s downloadable on most smartphones and is super easy to use and very accurate.
TopLine has now settled in at The Office Group, and we LOVE our new office. We have great views of Tottenham Court Road and Russel Square, and it’s also allowed the team to work and collaborate with people they wouldn’t usually get the chance to.
All of us here at TopLine look forward to welcoming you at our new office soon!
Written by: Michaela Lee, Office Manager
Four Pillars of Design in B2B PR
The rise of digital platforms has put even more emphasis on the role that design plays in PR. As a B2B PR agency, we have learned over the years that many successful campaigns rely heavily on a strategic design process. So, what are the key aspects to making design work for you? Let’s take a look at some great design examples and some key aspects to apply to your next campaign.
Make it user friendly
Create a seamless experience that does not confuse or mislead your audience. Design can influence trust so you should create elements that are visually friendly and inclusive. Also think about where your customers are and make you design geo-specific, as this will also contribute to the overall user experience. A recent example of this in action comes from AirBnB, which redesigned its visual identity by updating its illustrations of its community to portray a more diverse group of people.
Ensure it makes an emotional impact
There are two key questions to ask when measuring your PR campaign’s creative impact:
- How does the overall design make viewers feel?
- Does it enhance your campaign’s core message and objective?
Using certain design styles, images and colours can evoke emotion and raise awareness. Consider these design choices you make when building your campaign. A quirky illustrative style may bring across a friendly and youthful feel or you may opt for something more real and honest for greater impact. Metro Trains Melbourne recently launched a railway safety public service announcement ‘Dumb ways to die’ which captured the world both kids and adults alike by creating a catchy jingle and animated video to generate awareness.
Create content with a purpose
Your audience is receiving content at a rapid pace and through multiple online platforms, so you need to be extra creative to catch their attention. Netgear recently created a cool infographic on The History and Future of WIFI to help promote its products. If you are sharing results from a research campaign, an infographic could do the trick. Check out our video on How To Make An Infographic The Right Way.
Use a combination of mediums
New technologies and design mediums allow us to create campaigns that can be both visually engaging and subversive. Your company’s core values can spring to life through new ways of showcasing its visual identity and design. Engage your audience and take them on a journey where they are allowed to make up their own minds along the way. EXAMPLE Take a note from Sonos, which created a sound and visual experience to create awareness around the launch of Google assistant on Sonos, and use a combination of design mediums to create a more dynamic approach to your campaign idea.
Want to have a strategic design process for your next campaign? Contact us to find out how we can help.
Written by: Brent Peters, Graphic Designer
Grammarly: A B2B content writer’s verdict
Like the man in the Grammarly YouTube ad that seems to play more than any other for me, “I write pretty much all day, every day.” As part of TopLine Comms’ content writing team, I write blogs, press releases, video scripts, white papers, and all manner of other content for our clients, and I’m open to any copywriting tools that could improve my work. That’s why I tried Grammarly. Here’s what it’s good at, what it’s bad at, and how it measures up against a human proofreader.
Grammarly and the copywriting process
First off, what does Grammarly do? It’s a grammar and spelling checker which uses machine learning to catch errors that other, simpler software may miss. Think of it like a smarter version of Word’s spell checker. It’s available as a plugin pretty much everywhere – Word, browsers like Chrome and Firefox, and Google Docs – and as a standalone app for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android. Grammarly is available in both a free and more capable paid (premium) version, and at TopLine we use Grammarly Premium.
Grammarly offers real-time grammar checking, but I’ve opted not to use it for a few reasons. Primarily, the plugin noticeably slows down Word, and considering that I use Word for countless hours every day, I want it to run as smoothly as possible. The other main reason that I don’t use Grammarly’s Word plugin is that I personally prefer to write uninterrupted and then edit after. Constant badgering to change the word ‘great’ to ‘significant’ feels like a distraction rather than sage advice.
Once I’ve written the first draft, I invite Grammarly to look it over. This means launching the standalone app and copying and pasting over whatever I’ve just finished writing. Grammarly churns through it, usually for no longer than ten seconds, and highlights potential errors and recommended changes.
Does Grammarly work?
In short, yes. Grammarly does correctly identify errors that Word’s spellcheck overlooks and brings attention to potential succinctness – for instance ‘can’ rather than ‘is able to’ – and structural improvements – such as split infinitives and otherwise misplaced adverbs. Through sheer repetition of Grammarly pointing these things out, I’ve internalised some of these tips and managed to eliminate some bad habits.
I’m also impressed by Grammarly’s content writing range: it doesn’t have any problem taking on a variety of formal and informal pieces, it works for both American and British English, and even has settings to adjust formality, domain, and tone.
However, Grammarly is not without shortcomings. It’s very poor about maintaining formatting such as bulleted lists and hierarchies, for instance, because it just copies unformatted Unicode text. It also struggles with comments in Word, dumping them right into the body of the text rather than simply ignoring them. This is a problem as comments form a critical part of our review process, and I’m always concerned I’ll forget to remove them and leave a comment floating in the body of the text. These are avoidable problems if you use the Word plugin, but as I previously mentioned, it slows Word down.
Who needs human proofreaders?
Grammarly can certainly reduce grammar issues, catch misspellings, and even advise against trite constructions and clichés, but it isn’t a magic solution to bad writing. I think of it like a more powerful spellcheck, because it can’t take on broader structural issues which require a fundamental understanding of the piece of writing and what it hopes to achieve. In other words, you can easily get Grammarly to give a perfect ‘text score’ to incoherent nonsense, so long as it fits the grammatical structure that the app is looking for.
At least for the time being, no copywriting tools are a substitute for having a colleague read through your writing. At TopLine, everything we write is proofed by multiple people to make sure that we’re only sending out the best possible content. Grammarly is a nice addition to this process, but it’s not a replacement.
In other words, Grammarly is a useful tool, but only for catching mistakes. It’s still the writer’s responsibility to provide the thoughts, tone and structure. If your business publishes articles, blogs, or any other type of PR content and is satisfied with the skills of its in-house writers, Grammarly can be a great addition. If you simply don’t have time to do all that writing, consider turning to a B2B PR agency like TopLine Comms.
To find out where and how content marketing can fit in your PR strategy, contact us todayTopLine’s top tips for working from home
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will know that people are working from home wherever possible to limit the spread of the pandemic. At TopLine Comms, our digital PR agency, we work from home two days a week. This policy has been in place for years, so we’re old hands at working from home effectively. For many people, though, this is their first experience with working from home, so we asked the team for some top tips on staying focused, and taking care of yourself while working from home.
Maintain your routine
Katy B’s advice is to get up, get breakfast and get ready at the same time as you would if you were going into the office. Jack added that it’s worth getting dressed before you start work, even if it’s just putting on a different set of comfortable home clothes. Staying in your pyjamas signals ‘relaxation’ and ‘weekend’ to your brain, which doesn’t set you off to a good start to the workday. Getting dressed puts you in the same frame of mind that you get into when you’re going into the office.
Dana recommended planning out your daily schedule – and being strict with it. That means deciding what time you’re starting your day, when your lunch break is, and when you’ll log off. By setting a clear boundary between time on and off the clock, you’ll avoid getting distracted by home chores, and won’t end up overworking into your personal time in the evening. Jack added that eating is for mealtimes only. Snacking to pass the time is a terrible idea, have a coffee or tea or some fruit instead.
Pick a productive workspace
Rob mentioned the importance of having a dedicated workspace, and ideally arranging it to match your office desk – couches are a no-no! Katie S concurred: having a designated workspace outside of your bedroom is an effective way to get into ‘work mode’ and minimise distractions. Brent added that it may be worth creating a few different spaces in your home to work from, since working from the same spot can cause a bit of a creative block after a while. Elaine endorsed a change of scenery in the afternoon if you’re feeling restless. This can be a walk at lunchtime, planning to work from an alternative location, or even taking the time to give a friend a call.
Dan suggested working with the windows open to get some fresh air and keeping the radio on for some friendly background chatter. Katie C recommended podcasts for the same reason. If you find podcasts too distracting, Sian and Jack are fans of classical or instrumental music instead. Jenna recommended taking some quiet time alone at home to try meditation, which can help with creative ideas and keeping the mind calm.
It’s easy to start to go a little crazy all by yourself, which is why Tom and Tim both emphasised the importance of talking to people at least once a day, even if you don’t have any formal meetings. Ben pointed out that keeping up your social life outside of work – remotely, of course – and working out during lunch are also great ways to make sure you aren’t living like a hermit.
Jenna echoed the suggestion that we should check in on our colleagues and recommended that if you find yourself working from home for an extended period of time, you should consider choosing a buddy and making sure that they are doing okay. Be open and honest of how you are doing with your team – we’re all in this together and we all want to support each other.
Get some exercise
Fleur, Jodie and Sian advocated for getting outside at lunchtime to walk the dog or go for a walk or a run, since this can help you to clear your head. If it’s horrible weather outside, you can still walk around your house to get your legs moving. Katy B also suggested making a list of all of the miscellaneous pieces of admin and chores you perpetually put off and using breaks to tick them off – she will be clearing out her spice cupboard this weekend.
Katie S pointed out a study from Bristol University which shows that moving your body for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps keep impulses in check. Stepping out for fresh air and getting up and taking regular breaks are easy ways to boost productivity.
Luke preached the gospel of good posture, pointing out that core strengthening exercises can help your back. His latest tip is to imagine holding an orange between your shoulder blades and to bring them back as if you’re squeezing it. Bronwen likes a standing desk, which can help keep the blood flowing.
Choose the right technology
Without seamlessly syncing cloud services, we wouldn’t be able to work from home the way we do. It’s critical that your business chooses the right technologies to enable working from home. At TopLine, we use Dropbox for documents, Teams for instant messaging, Zoom for video calls, and Asana to help keep the day focused, all of which are easy to access from anywhere in the world.