In March of 2020, TPG issued a work-from-home directive in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. At one point at the beginning of the pandemic, a whopping 66 percent of US workers surveyed were working from home. Pre-pandemic working-from-home tips like making the bed, showering, and changing out of our pajamas seem less relevant now. We’ve had to become masters at sharing our environments with spouses and children and guarding against isolation and loneliness. At first, we thought we’d be working from home for a couple of weeks. Here we are a year later. We reached out to some of our team members to get their updated tips and reflections on working from home COVID style.

Mary Kemmer, CTSM, Operations Manager

I had always worked from our office, so working from home full-time was new to me. I already had a nice office setup and necessary technology, but I invested in a high-quality office chair. You find out fast that your chair is a top priority, and your back will thank you! Regardless of your schedule, be sure to establish set work hours to follow each day and, except for that project due in the morning, try to have a hard stop each evening.  Just because you work from home does not mean you should always be working. Apart from a physically comfortable work environment, what I miss most are the daily face-to-face interactions. We are a tight group, so I take the time to check in with co-workers frequently even if it’s just to tell them about a great movie I watched over the weekend. In short, working from home has reinforced the need for personal relationships, friendships, and the importance of community.

Donna Pettit, Controller

I cannot emphasize the importance of a room of one’s own. Thank goodness I already had a designated workspace. Even though I was used to working from home, at least part of the time, during the pandemic it felt like a whole new world.  My husband was home working, my son was home for virtual school. Gone were the quiet work-from-home days. I learned to double my focus and limit distractions as much as possible. Acceptance and calm have helped me immensely. I kept forging on with my pre-pandemic routine: shower, dress, put on makeup, plan for future work, and check off my daily punch list. But I’ve learned to never take relationships for granted. Even lunch hours were different because my husband and son were in the kitchen with me. Those moments became a great time to catch up and hang together. Turning challenges into opportunities has helped me keep perspective and find joy during these changing times.

Kim Mallery, Project Manager

Having worked from home for more than 20 years, I’ve seen my priorities change and my “tips and tricks” reflect new information every few years. These days, as everyone is mentioning, one of the most important things for those working from home is to set up a dedicated, private (if that’s even possible these days) office space. In the best of times working from home presents challenges with focusing and staying on task. And these are certainly not the best of times. Now, many of us are not only working from home but are essentially also working from our kid’s school. Separate workspaces for all are essential for concentration. Set up desk spaces where you can. Offices and bedrooms are ideal as they are out of the general life flow of, say, a kitchen or family room. Beyond that, try to cut each other some slack. If we can remember that everyone’s world has been disrupted, we can help get us all to the other side, while keeping our sanity.

C.C. Carr, Onsite Trade Show Director

My life in the trade show world revolved around traveling. I worked from home in between those engagements. I never felt isolated working from home because I knew that in a week I would once again be jetting off to this exhibition or that. Now, working from home has taken on a whole new meaning. The sense of isolation and detachment from my colleagues, teammates, and people you meet along the way were strong at first. About working from home, I had previously written about making the bed, staying off personal social media and limiting phone calls. Today, paying attention to wellness has become more paramount. Getting outside is very important to me. I can’t describe how fresh air and exercise has elevated my mood and given me clarity. I, too, make time to talk with my co-workers. With emphasis on email, and texting, I find the human voice, laughter and stories uplifting. In-person events provide spontaneity, moments, and connections. Without those you must strive for a new way to find them. Oh, and I still make my bed!

Conclusion

A year of working from home has reminded us how personal space, comfort and organization are important to productivity and work effectiveness. But we’ve learned so much more. We’ve learned the importance of flexibility, family, patience, acceptance, kindness, friendship, calmness, and that most people are trying to do the right thing under stressful and changing circumstances. That’s called life. Now, go get out of those PJs.

TPG Trade Show + Event Marketing is a woman-owned, independently held, experiential marketing agency since 1992. Whether virtual or live, let’s start a new project together! 

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