March, alongside many other Boston PR agencies – and frankly, agencies around the country if not the world – has made the shift to companywide work from home in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Until now, WFH was mainly looked at as a cool perk for employees, an example of more adaptive and flexible work cultures. It’s something we’ve done ourselves for years, offering Marchers the opportunity to WFH every Friday. But this week, and for at least the next few weeks, WFH is our new normal. And given that, I thought it was important that, both as an agency but also as an industry, we begin to rethink how we approach WFH in order to maintain our connections with each other and with our clients.
Of course, continuing to deliver outstanding value and services to our clients remains essential. As PR agencies adapt more to this new status quo over the following weeks, our teams will continue brainstorming and executing new ways for how we interact with clients and ensure no disruptions to service.
But that’s a given. We know our teams will continue doing all they can for their clients. What isn’t always a given is how we think about the people at our agencies in these strange new times. That’s what drove me to pull together some thoughts and ideas for how people – at March but also at agencies everywhere – can and should prioritize their own physical and mental well-being as they adjust to these WFH weeks ahead.
Don’t feel guilty
Be purposeful and give your day structure. Allow yourself to take breaks and enjoy your day. You will do much better client work as a result.
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Twice a day, in fact. Go for a walk, go for a run. Maybe send pictures of your activity to your coworkers, over your company messaging platforms (Slack, Skype, Gchat, etc.) so that everyone can see. You should feel good about taking time for yourself. When we’re all looking at spending nearly our entire day and night at home now, it’s important to get outside for a change of pace and scenery.
Find yourself writing a long email? Pick up the phone instead! Keep talking to people. Set up video conferencing, not just with clients but with teammates. Set up small huddles over video. Try to find ways that replicate how you would normally stop by someone’s desk or have a chat around a common table as if you were still in the office.
Move trainings and company culture activities to video
This goes hand-in-hand with the above. Don’t cancel all-agency training sessions; move them to video and over the phone. Do you do company culture activities like trivia? Make them virtual instead. And if you don’t already do trivia or other games in the office, maybe now’s the time to start.
This is also a good opportunity to expand the one-on-ones you normally have with an in-office mentoring system. Assign each member of the management team to reach out and connect with employees regularly, so you’re sharing their concerns and ideas. It’s also just good for management to check in with everyone individually, and often, to make sure we’re all navigating this new paradigm as best we can. We’re all in this together, and this is a great way to keep reminding each other of that fact.
Take time for yourself to think and reflect on your own well-being. How are you feeling right now? How are you dealing with being cooped up at home?
It’s important we all stay engaged and connected with each other during these bizarre times. It’s important for continuing to deliver the quality work clients can reliably expect. It’s important for our own mental health and sanity as we self-quarantine. But it’s also important to remember that staying engaged also means staying engaged and in tune with yourself, and making time to break up the day in ways we haven’t had to think about before. We’re all in this together, but that also means ensuring we support our individual needs for getting through this, too.