PR Pros Adjust to Working From Home Offices

By: Tim O'Brien, APR
May. 1, 2020
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If you’re fortunate enough to have your health and your job (we take nothing for granted these days), then chances are that over the past two months you’ve found yourself working from home. 

For some, working remotely is a part of their regular routines, while for others, this arrangement has required a learning curve.

Emily Garner, a public information specialist at the Greenville Utilities Commission in Greenville, N.C., is new to working from home and said she finds herself putting in more hours.

“The first two weeks, I worked approximately 60 hours per week,” she said.  “I’ve learned that I need to force myself to take breaks throughout the day, and to walk away at the end of the day and not look back.”

Garner has discovered that, over time, collaboration between her communications team and other departments has improved, “because we are now forced to interact via webchat and video calls,” instead of relying primarily on email, she said.

Maya Nottage, APR, regional marketing manager at Nassau Cruise Port Ltd. in Nassau, Bahamas, said she was surprised at how important it was for her to create structure in the form of a detailed schedule for herself, and to stick to it while working remotely.

“I thought that it would be easy to maintain my normal schedule, but I’ve been switching up my day unintentionally, and I started to feel like I was accomplishing less and getting distracted in the process,” she said.  “Writing out my day hour by hour has been very helpful.”

Balancing home and work life

Of course, when you work from home, the demands of home life and work life are bound to collide.

Garner’s husband is now working from home as well, and they have children in college, high school and middle school, all under the same roof trying to keep up with their own work.

“We made a sign that we hang up when husband and I are on video calls,” she said. “It says, ‘Quiet, On a Conference Call.’”

Nottage’s adjustment centers on the challenges of sharing space with her daughter and mother. 

“The biggest obstacle has been juggling child care and schoolwork with my work,” she said. 

The same approach she took to organize her work helped in meeting the demands of parenthood.

“I put my daughter on a schedule.  I print out her work and try to plan it out a few days at a time, so that she is meaningfully occupied, and so that I can focus on my work at the required time.  So far, it’s working out pretty well.”

“I usually put on my headphones for conference calls but my daughter can often be seen tiptoeing in the background because she just wants to be close,” she said. “I can’t be mad at that.”

Appreciating a fresh perspective

Garner and Nottage have said the whole experience has given them a fresh perspective.

“Both my team at work and my family are all trying to keep the humor going when appropriate to help us all get through it,” said Garner.

Nottage added, “I’m forcing myself to work out every day. My workouts are much more meaningful now. There is a lesson in everything, so I’m making an effort to focus on the good parts and to be grateful that my family is healthy and happy.

“I’m also very grateful that I can work from home when so many are out on the front lines trying to protect the rest of us,” she continued. “When I consider their contribution, my complaints seem very small, so I let them go.

photo credit: lightfield studios