Now that most AMA members work from home, it’s becoming more routine. But we’re still finding interesting ways to stay in touch and have some fun. Managing from home requires some extra effort.

Brooke Barney and Jessica Wagner were kind enough to share their perspectives on how they continue to survive (and thrive!) during this time of physical isolation.

Brooke Barney, Thysse

Hi all! Remember me? I’m the social one that loves checking you in at our AMA events. SOCIAL being the operative word here! I’m a people person, and I miss the beverages and camaraderie at our Craft Marketing events at Vintage Brewing.

Getting in the groove of working from home has definitely had its challenges. My new WFH coworkers are black and chocolate labs. They do a lot of sleeping on the job.

My biggest tip during this challenging time is to stick to your normal routine. Put some pants on! Get up, get ready, and get dressed. And when you’re feeling a little bit isolated, call me and we’ll have a Zoom happy hour.

Be safe. See you all soon!

Jessica Wagner, APTIM 

As I begin week four of working from home, I think I’m getting the hang of this quarantine thing. Sure, there are plenty of distractions. The kids are home, and I need to make sure they’re doing their homework, which is much easier for the 13-year-old to grasp than the 5-year-old.

The pets are happy for their people to be home all day, so they come by for the occasional scratch behind the ear.

I’ve gotten into a routine that works for me. That’s key when you’re suddenly working from home full time. I make sure I put on ‘real’ clothes and brush my hair. I’m lucky to have a spot in the office (I share with my husband). I can shut the door during business calls or when I need to concentrate.

During the first couple of weeks, I read a ton of articles on working from home, but I didn’t see much information on managing from home, especially during a crisis. The issue deserves consideration.

Now with my team at home, I’m looking for ways to keep us connected. Before the quarantine, it was easy to chat with my team throughout the day. We worked in an open office, so I could easily share an idea or ask a question.

Those little moments helped turn a group of people into a cohesive team. As a team, especially a creative marketing team, we crave those moments.

So how do you keep a team cohesive when you can’t turn around in your chair or have a breakroom conversation? I’ve been trying to find small things that can keep us connected:

  • Daily video conference calls with the team. During our 30-minute meeting, we discuss updates, and perhaps more importantly, we talk about how we’re feeling. Binged a new Netflix series? Feeling disconnected? Have a great recipe? Struggling with a problem? These are all discussed.
  • Weekly/bi-weekly virtual happy hours. Grab a drink, alcoholic or not, and join a video call with the team.
  • Company-sponsored lunch via GrubHub (or food delivery of your choice). I admit I haven’t done this one yet, but I’m going to soon. I’m going to purchase virtual gift cards for the team so we can order lunch together, and everyone gets their food of choice.

On the more work-related front, we frequently update our Skype/Team statuses. That way, we know if someone is available to answer a quick question.

We also have a Team Space in Microsoft Teams where we post memes and work updates.

Creating that sense of community when we’re all at home isn’t easy, but I hope I’ve done what I can to make the team feel connected.

Alyssa Spiel, Slipstream

I’ve worked from home here and there in the past, but never for a week straight–much less multiple weeks! It took a little while to get into a routine, but I think I’ve finally found what works for me. I started to realize a few key challenges I was having, and made a point to address them and find a healthy balance.

Challenge #1: How do I keep “normal” hours?
During the first few weeks, I found myself working some odd hours. In fact, it became hard to separate “work life” from “home life,”, since my laptop was always there, and almost always on. I started to feel a little burdened by it, not giving myself any hard cutoff times to take extended breaks and have normal evening time to unwind and relax.

Solution #1: Commit to hard stops in the evening
Working evenings and weekends is sometimes unavoidable, and I’m used to doing it occasionally. But it is important to find balance through structure, especially in these uncertain and challenging times. At least a few days a week, I stop working at a time I commit to early in the day, and when I’m done, I unplug my laptop, remove it from my work area, and put it out of sight (and out of mind)–and take some time to disconnect and relax!

Challenge #2: When do I take breaks?!
This is not a challenge I expected to have, but one that is real, and that I’m still working to figure out!

When I was working in the office, and it was nice enough outside to take a quick walk with co-workers, I would try to do so as often as I could either mid-morning or around noon. Now, before I know it, it’s 11:30 and I haven’t taken a break or barely moved from my chair!

My lunch routine is also drastically different. I used to get out of the office for lunch 3-4 times a week, which was a great way to destress and reset. Now, with little to no change in scenery throughout the entire work day, it never really feels like I’m taking a real break.

Solution #2: Do something physical!
I wish I could say I started to get outside and take walks mid-day, but I’m not quite there yet. However, I did find that taking a quick break to something, anything, physical–is a nice quick reset between projects. If I see that 1.5 or 2 hours went by without a break, I’ll pause for 15 minutes and do something away from all screens–be it washing dishes, vacuuming, starting a load of laundry, etc.

As for lunch, I still find myself not eating until 2:00 p.m. or later sometimes. This week, I’m going to focus on getting outside around 12:30 p.m. as often as I can, and take my lunch out on the balcony for some intentional separation.

Now that I’ve identified a few of my own personal challenges, I’ll continue to work on them and find new ways to make working from home even better. I hope everyone has a great week!

Leslie Blaize, the owner of Blaize Communications, is a certified case study specialist. She crafts B2B content with a focus on the Architectural/Engineering/Construction industry.

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