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April 15, 2020

A Marketer’s Truth About Working from Home

Abby Georgacopoulos, Director of Marketing

The entire business landscape has changed. EVERY conversation about growth and marketing is different. The face-to-face marketing industry has obviously been greatly impacted, and we are working daily to navigate new waters. Figuring out how to keep our brand relevant feels like walking a tightrope of being tactful/helpful versus tacky/self-promoting.

With that being said, I thought I would shift gears and share about my “new” experience/struggle working from home in case it’s relatable, and also frankly, because it’s a therapeutic exercise for me. I hope it can be a welcome distraction and perhaps validate others who are in a similar place.

I don’t like being told what to do. LOL. So, for some reason being mandated to WFH feels like a punishment, when in the past I would look forward to doing it here and there. Over the last 15+ years, I’ve worked in professional office environments, business casual environments, and worked from home a little – like when we were getting furniture or something delivered, or one of my children had a (pre-COVID) fever. I found that I could be pretty productive at home on THOSE occasions…but the situation many professionals are living in today is far different. How do we stay motivated? Stay off the snooze button? Stay ahead of depression and de-motivation?

In general, we are creatures of habit. And our habitual rituals (rhyme!) have been changed without our permission. For example, I feel like there is a psychological shift that occurs when I start my commute, pull into the parking lot at our office, walk to my desk, say good morning to people, and log in to my computer. This mental transition is a lot harder to find in my makeshift office in our basement. Yes, we do have an office in the house, but I opted to remove myself from the main floor for more quiet time when I need to focus.

Anyone who knows me at work knows I like my sticky notes, and I use my wall space for active project and process management. I’m very hands-on in this way. My home environment is not (currently) set up for this. Another strike for WFH because again, the shift of mental energy AND physical space is a part of my mind getting into “work mode.”

I have two daughters, aged 9 and 5. Trying to keep abreast of their e-learning assignments and progress has added a new stressor, and I have realized that my kids are struggling just as much with their version of “working from home.” They too have lost their routines of getting up for school, riding the bus, and walking to class with their friends. Their young minds simply do not regard e-learning with the same importance as actually GOING to school. It’s kind of hard for me to push them on it, when I myself completely understand this is hard, and a little weird. But, we are working through it.

In addition, kids of this age only have so much tolerance for restraining from interrupting me. Even though I have a sign on the door that states when I am on a meeting. That worked at first, but now it’s at maybe a 60% success rate of keeping a little face from appearing on my webcam. Oh well, everyone is pretty understanding of this. However again, my struggle is the mental shift between focusing on work and being “Mama,” and pivoting between these roles on a dime is rough on my concentration. Especially at a time when it takes extra discipline to feel productive.

With the blurring of work and home life, I’m astounded at how hard it feels to keep my house in any kind of order. I mean, being home all the time should mean my house is immaculate, right? Nope. My kids have a lot more free reign on the house while my husband and I are working and alternating conference calls and making breakfast/lunch/dinner. Some fun surprises I have found from my girls entertaining themselves: My dining room and first floor bathroom covered in glitter, the remains of a snack they made themselves: frozen green beans, a blanket fort in the family room that used all of the kitchen chairs, a clogged toilet full of toilet paper (don’t waste the precious tp!!!), my living room converted into a play classroom, my closet and clothes being used for dress-up, and my daughter’s baby doll with a makeshift mask on her face so she doesn’t get Coronavirus.

My attitude on all of this is a giant shoulder shrug, and some laughs. What can we do? At least they are doing things together, and me getting upset about it isn’t going to help anything. So I’ve relaxed my attitude on a lot of these things and incentivized the kids to help out more. I made some “Amazon dollar” certificates they can earn for doing things, and they seem to (in spurts) like the idea of earning this money to shop for items of their choice. Don’t let me fool you into thinking they aren’t fighting and getting frustrated, that is happening all the time too!

If you read my past blog about time management, it probably sounds a little contradictory for me to write about struggling to manage my productivity and feel successful working this way. But hey, I’m being honest. I’m learning that even though working from home sounds great sometimes, I am not a person who can do it ALL THE TIME. At this very moment though, I don’t have a choice in the matter, so I have to make due and try to find what works for me.

So back to my earlier questions about staying motivated and not falling into a funk… I don’t have those answers. What has helped me are a bunch of little things, like social hours with my coworkers, online video chat games, and getting outside (even just in my own yard.) As a person who easily gets caught up in the rush of everyday life, I do feel like this time has been a struggle with some silver linings. Taking even a few moments in a day to reflect on that is normalizing for me.

I do feel blessed in this, and that’s important to remember. My family and I are healthy and safe. I still have a job. My husband still has a job. We don’t take this for granted and we don’t assume anything. I’m getting a crash course on ultimate prioritization. My company has been amazing through this and I know we will come out of this stronger than ever.

All of this has also forced us to breathe a little bit, and I think that’s a good thing for society and humans in general. I’m spending more time with my girls. I’ve taken walks. I’ve cooked more. I’ve baked. I’ve tried some watercolor painting. I learned how to give haircuts to my husband and daughters. I taught my kids to play baseball/t-ball. I introduced them to some classic Nintendo games. I started learning more about the stock market. How many things have you done in the last 4 weeks that were things you never “had time” for? These things are necessary breaks and good for the soul. Don’t feel like you “can’t” or “shouldn’t” take this time at home to enrich your life in even some little ways. These might be the very activities that re-energize you and your mind before you get back on task.

The seriousness of COVID-19 is not lost on me. I know this isn’t about my working preferences or my kids running amok about the house. I know many lives will be profoundly changed from the impacts of this disease and how we have had to bring the economy to halt. My heart genuinely goes out to those that are not working, due to furlough or lay-offs, or companies that might not survive this. We will all have our stories coming out of this, and this is just a snippet of mine, so far. Thanks for reading.

About TradeTec:

Founded in Chicago in 1999, Skyline TradeTec produces innovative trade show exhibits with unmatched customer service and a promise of NO POST SHOW BILLING™ for clients. As an endorsed provider of Skyline products, TradeTec offers the highest quality modular exhibits and portable displays, as well as custom and hybrid solutions. Skyline TradeTec has 6 locations in 5 states, has served over 6,000 clients, and has completed over 50,000 projects worldwide. Learn more about TradeTec at SkylineTradeTec.com.