Over the past few weeks, the retail industry has been turned on its head as a consequence of the COVID-19 global pandemic. With most of the country being under a stay at home order, collectively we’ve all had to figure out how to successfully work from home. For executives, this also means learning how to lead an entirely remote team, all while dealing with this crisis and maybe homeschooling your kids, too. We asked our members and board members how they are coping with the adjustment of working from home. Here are ten tips for working remotely that we hope you find useful as you navigate this uncertain time.

  1. “I think it is important to get out into nature and be physical. Every day I schedule a ‘meeting’ with myself at 4:30pm and jog to the nearby lake. It is very important to be able to separate ‘work’ from ‘home’ and the only way to be successful is to designate specific times to practice that separation.” – Yasaman Stewart, director, retail and design, Nothing Bundt Cakes
  2. “One thing I know a lot of teams are doing in my organization is hosting a virtual happy hour at the end of the week, not every week but at least once if you have not already done it. Seems to lift the spirits and re-energize the teams during these stressful times as we are adapting to working from home,  balancing the family that is around you most of the day, and putting out work fires. It’s a nice way to socialize when we don’t have time during the day to get personal with each team member.” – Roopi Crowley, vice president, marketing operations, Bed, Bath & Beyond
  3.  “Not everyone has the luxury of having a dedicated office, but it’s important to set up a dedicated work space. This can be in a spare room or the corner of the living room or dining room. Wherever you choose to set up your home work space, don’t let it wander to the kitchen table or the bedroom.” – Michelle Farabaugh, Former Chief Marketing Officer, Harry & David
  4.  “Establish ground rules, for both your work colleagues, as well as family. What hours are you going to work? They should be as close as possible to the work hours you had in the office […] It is also important for your family to know what the ground rules and hours are. When are you working and not available, unless of course there is an urgent issue like your son just flushed your daughter’s doll down the toilet and now it is clogged and overflowing. Schedule specific break times during the day so you can touch base with the kids or maybe start a new project for them.” – Michelle Farabaugh, Former Chief Marketing Officer, Harry & David
  5. “Everyone should get up, brush their teeth and get dressed in the morning. That may sound funny, but it really helps kids (and adults) make the mental leap that this is not the weekend where it would be appropriate to lounge around in pajamas all day. As a rule, kids in general respond better to routine so the more you can mimic your pre-COVID routine, the better.” – Monica Banks, Founder and CEO, Gugu Guru
  6. . “I stay close to my Women in Retail Leadership Community and the rest of the power women in my life. FaceTime, Teams, and Zoom are such a blessing right now. I love seeing everyone’s smiling faces and incredible energy. I am thinking of all of you!” – Cristina Ceresoli, vice president of marketing, Chico’s FAS Intimate Apparel Group
  7.  “I schedule my kids’ homeschool day to match my conference calls and meetings, and I make sure that they get a work break every hour or so. And I also try to make the fun time/outdoor time in the afternoon as an incentive to get the work done early. If the work isn’t done, fun time doesn’t happen. I’m trying to teach them the concept of ‘Eat That Frog’ early.”  – Laura Hnatow, vice president, marketing and e-commerce. Sea Bags, LLC
  8. . “Communication with the senior leaders daily has been key. Every other day they meet with their teams, and twice a week they have to wash their hair and insure all are on video! It has been fun, we have met spouses, dogs, children, pet projects and overall made it impactful, insuring all were heard and developed a stronger feeling of community.” – Dawn Robertson, Chief Executive, On Campus Marketing
  9. “Simply put, I am a planner. So, [my family and I] have a set scheduled each day. […] Sounds neatly tied, doesn’t it? It’s not. Actually, some days it’s a total mess. But what allows our family to thrive is permission to break the schedule and break the rules. Each day things shift and change in ways we had not expected…so we roll with it and allow ourselves to break the schedule judgement-free.” – Susan Elliot Bocassi, vice president-general merchandise manager, Bluestem Brands
  10. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Working and homeschooling and parenting all at once is absolutely not normal and to say it’s hard is an understatement. We cannot put pressure on ourselves to do it perfectly. Go with the flow, do your best and keep in mind that nothing is permanent. This too shall pass.” – Monica Banks, founder and CEO, Gugu Guru