What’s your remote work spirit animal?

With remote working looking like it's here to stay, we caught up with the Tangent team for their tips for staying sane and - most importantly - what animal best describes their remote working style.
In March 2020, remote working shifted from being a workplace perk to a workplace necessity, and it happened overnight.
Adapting to this ‘new normal’ hasn’t always been a piece of cake, so with more weeks of lockdown looming in the UK, we were curious about how the Tangent team were faring.
We asked about their top challenges, best perks, tips for staying sane and - most importantly - what animal best describes their remote working style.
It turns out that we have quite the menagerie here, including:
  • The Monkey: Energetically jumps from task to task without taking much rest in between
  • The Swan: Appears calm on the surface, but underneath the legs are kicking non-stop
  • The Octopus: Uses all arms to try and complete 8 jobs at once; a keen multitasker
  • The Shark: Known for manic ‘feeding frenzies’, often biting off more than they can chew
  • The Ant: Strives to work independently as part of a larger group to impact the bigger picture
Do any of these sound familiar?
Here’s what our team has to say about their chosen spirit animal and their experience of remote work.

Anita – Senior Account Manager, Project Management Team: Monkey

Anita is a self-confessed monkey, with the nature of her job meaning that she often finds herself jumping from task to task – or tree to tree – often skipping breaks as she tackles obstacles and finds solutions.
Biggest challenge:
“I find it difficult to give myself the downtime I need to approach projects with fresh eyes and a clear head when I haven’t got a strict schedule. I think I’m blurring the work-life/personal life boundary.”
Biggest perk:
“It’s nice to have a little more balance, spending more time at home, and with my husband. I also feel that I’m often much less stressed because I’m not dealing with the frustrations of the daily commute.”
Anita’s top remote working tips for monkeys:
  • Schedule in two 5-minute coffee breaks throughout the day that you absolutely don’t miss
  • Go for a short walk at lunchtime to get some fresh air, clear the mind, and rest the eyes
  • When not on calls, play some calming background music to slow down the frantic jumping
  • Snooze non-essential Slack notifications to minimise distractions and stay on one ‘tree’ for longer

Helen – Service Director, Newcastle: Swan

Helen sees her remote working style reflected in the seemingly cool, calm, and collected swan, whose legs are constantly kicking away under the surface in a bid to stay afloat.
Biggest challenge:
“I’m a multitasker by nature, but at home, I’m finding that I delegate less because it’s often just quicker to do it myself instead of writing everything down in a message. I’m always juggling too many tasks.”
Biggest perk:
“Without the commute and face-to-face meetings, my days feel longer, which is definitely a good thing! I feel I have a lot more time to get things done, and I can use my commute time, too.”
Helen’s top remote working tips for swans:
  • Write a to-do list, and update it constantly throughout the day to ensure you stay on track
  • Take breaks often to chat socially with your team, and stop the legs kicking for a moment
  • Don’t overwork yourself – take time out to go for a walk, make the beds, or have some lunch
  • Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up; remote working is hard, and you’re doing great!

Sam – Creative Director, Design Team: Octopus

Sam sees himself as a bit of an octopus, always trying to do 8 things at once – and often more.
He’s finding that working from home has increased the number of Slack notifications, emails, and phone calls.
Biggest challenge:
“I have a need to respond to everything in real-time, which I need to realise just isn’t possible. I’m also finding it difficult to adapt to giving creative direction solely through video; it’s much easier in person”.
Biggest perk:
“I’m enjoying the flexibility and spending more time at home with my wife. It’s nice being around to accept deliveries, although this does add yet another task to my list! I’m going to need more arms…”
Sam’s top remote working tips for octopuses:
  • Turn off Slack notifications, or at the very least remove the app from your phone
  • Only use one screen – it helps keep the focus on a single job, rather than all of them at once
  • Don’t be afraid to say no. It can be a bit scary, but you can’t do everything all at the same time
  • Leave the house. Get away from the computer, give those 8 arms a rest, and use your legs on a nice walk.

Anth – Senior Front End Developer, Newcastle: Ant

Anth by name, ant by nature.
Our senior front end developer Anth sees himself as part of a colony, working in his individual field to deliver on tasks that are essential for driving big picture results.
Biggest challenge:
“Ants are incredibly organised, and that’s something I’ve always strived for, but there are a lot more distractions at home (including 2 young children!) and I sometimes struggle to stay organised”.
Biggest perk:
“I enjoy not having to commute, especially now that it’s getting colder. It only takes me 20 seconds to get to work now, so I have more time to organise myself better, and more time to spend with my family”.
Anth’s top remote working tips for ants:
  • It’s tempting to say ‘I’ll just do a bit more’ if you’re on a roll, but try not to overwork yourself
  • Taking breaks is important in solving problems in code. Come back with a fresh mind
  • Invest in some soundproof headphones which really help to minimise home distractions
  • The Forest app has been great for preventing distractions and helping me focus… and it’s fun!

Andy – Technical Director, Tech Team: Shark

Andy likens himself to a great white shark in the midst of a feeding frenzy.
He’s aware that he’s often biting off more than he can chew, but he just keeps going in an effort to get the job done successfully.
Biggest challenge:
“The social side of work is usually what brings me out of my frenzy, so I’ve definitely missed that. Our after-work trips to our local, The Ship, were a really important part of our team’s support approach”.
Biggest perk:
“Not having to commute has made a big difference for me, as I’m able to enjoy more free time with my family. They’re great at helping me to calm down and relax after a hectic day swimming and eating!”
Andy’s top remote working tips for sharks:
  • Have a clear plan for the day. OneNote is great for task management and keeping track
  • Don’t be an island. Talk to your team regularly – socially, as well as about your projects
  • If you have a spare room, use it. It helps to separate your work life and personal life
  • Try not to sit on the sofa with a laptop; create a dedicated workspace for yourself

We’re all different creatures

The answers from our team show just how much diversity there is in the remote working kingdom. There’s no one size fits all when it comes to at-home productivity.
Our team all have their own ways of adapting to working from home – do you?
We’d love to hear some of your top remote working tips, and whether you’re an energetic monkey, a calm swan or a ferocious shark? Or if you identify with another species entirely?