In June 2021, I wrote and published my very first Double Forte blog post: “4 Things I’ve Learned Since Starting My First Job Remotely Amidst A Pandemic.” After re-reading the post and reflecting on the past year, it’s intriguing to see how the state of the world has changed in so many ways. At the time of writing that blog post, first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines were still being administered, mask mandates were in flux and corporate buildings in city downtowns were still below 2019 capacity levels. Compare those conditions to a year later: vaccines and booster doses are readily available, mask mandates have been mostly removed and many companies are beginning to mandate in-person work for their employees, according to Business Insider.
At Double Forte, we have continued to work remotely into 2022 against the backdrop of pandemic uncertainty. In-person client events and company activities are making a comeback, but most of our day-to-day work is still done from home. In last year’s blog post, I shared that “when I received my job offer from Double Forte, I was excited but also nervous. How would I be able to learn the ropes of an agency and build relationships with my colleagues, without having ever met them in person?”
Well, one year later, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting almost all of my colleagues in person, and have also had the opportunity to “learn the ropes” of the PR world through Zoom and Slack. While I’m still learning and refining my new skills every day (and still hoping to meet those last few colleagues in person!), I thought I would share my updated tips and takeaways after a year of working from home amid the ever-changing global environment.
Diversify your workspace.
While the convenience of working from home is undeniable, I sometimes find myself at the end of working hours realizing that I hadn’t even set foot outside of my house that day. In the thick of the pandemic, taking a long walk after work or exercising outdoors was often my antidote to this situation. Now that restaurants and cafes no longer have capacity restrictions or mandates, I recently decided to refresh my routine by choosing one meeting-free afternoon per week to work outside my house in a local coffee shop. Personally, I’ve found that working in a new environment has increased my productivity and overall excitement about work. If you are feeling burned out from your home office, I highly recommend trying this tactic to add some variation to your workday. You can also invite friends who also work remotely to join you for some company, provided that you won’t get too distracted!
If the option presents itself, work with and/or socialize with your colleagues in person.
Since July 2021, our team has been fortunate to have had multiple opportunities to work together and get to know each other in person. From Farm Technology Days in Eau Claire to team dinners, Double Forte has made it a priority for colleagues to spend time together and learn more about each other outside of Zoom and Slack. These meet-ups, whether they are client-related or not, have been integral to building relationships across the agency, which I believe improves the quality of our work and collaborative efforts. So, if your company is hosting a happy hour or team dinner, try to attend! You never know what types of connections you might make with your coworkers.
Overcommunicate with your colleagues.
This takeaway has remained true from the earliest stages of the pandemic to the present day. Keeping your coworkers abreast of your workload and whereabouts is an essential aspect of successful remote work culture. While working from home, our main forms of non-video communication at Double Forte are Slack and e-mail. We make it a priority to keep team members in the loop of general updates through these platforms–whether it’s adding a sandwich emoji to your name on Slack to show you’re at lunch or sending an FYI email if you have to finish work early to go to an appointment. If there’s one thing that should become a remote workplace norm after the past 2+ years, overcommunication should be it.
With all the unpredictability in the world, the past year has felt like a whirlwind, but it has also been a time of tremendous growth. I am very grateful for Double Forte’s flexible policies that have led me to develop my career successfully from the comfort of my home, but I am also appreciative of the opportunities I’ve been afforded to build connections with my colleagues and clients in person. I’m looking forward to reading this blog post in May 2023 and seeing what else might change over the next year!