This month I attended my first in-person client meeting since the pandemic started—at an international conference at McCormick Place in Chicago, no less.
Working from home the last 19 months has been a much different experience than working from home the past 16-17 years. Even though I had a home office pre-pandemic, I also visited clients on a regular basis, worked regularly with local associates, travelled to trade shows, and spoke at industry events.
Suddenly, like many people in the media industry, I was working solely from home. I recently wondered: what habits or lessons have my colleagues and I learned during the last year that we will keep in our daily work routine, as some companies slowly start to transition back to offices?
A Group Publisher who has also worked from home for years, said that like many of us he had to get used to always being ready for the webcam during virtual meetings. To remain prepared, Kieran Anderson, of Anderson Publishing, preps his day to be seen on camera, now keeps professional attire in his office, and set up lighting and a backdrop for his calls.
Theresa Gralinski, Executive Director, Events and Thought Leadership at Hightower Advisors, said she will continue to conduct client calls on video instead of reverting back to conference calls. “The ability to read facial expressions and non-verbal cues has been invaluable in my communications and negotiations,” she said.
“Slippers have replaced high heels” wrote Meg Clark. So true! She feels that publishers have realized that many people can work from home. But, they need to have discipline to maintain productive.
Michelle VanArman, Director of Audience Development at Hour Media, learned to be more patient with herself and others. She also said that she learned that without in-person meetings, it is sometimes easier to pick up the phone to resolve an issue than a string of back and forth emails.
Reflecting on what I have learned and will continue to do is that I will continue to only check emails at set times each day. This allows me to focus on the task I am working on with no distractions.
New COVID variants keep pushing back return-to-office dates for many companies. But I have hope that 2022 will bring more in-person interactions. Fast Company recently shared some ideas about lessons learned that we can take to the office.
However, I think that video meetings are here to stay. So keep those slippers handy.
The journey continues. Cindy