Leadership / 01.06.21
Just Another Day at the (Home) Office Stretches Into 2021
I’ve worked from a home office since 2011. So, when the pandemic took hold last March and so many people in our industry were forced to work remotely — many of them for the first time — I was uniquely positioned to write a series of articles for Access in subsequent months on how best to work just steps away from one’s bed or living room couch. Suddenly, I felt like some kind of Yoda or Mr. Miyagi figure, dispensing wisdom that had been accumulated from nearly a decade of experience.
One of the first such features I authored back on March 23 was “Five Tips on How to Make a Home Office Work for You.” At that time, I had yet to prove my chops to the INTIX readership as an authority on the subject. So, I gathered quotes from some of our top members who also had been working from home successfully for some time. And there were some terrific suggestions.
Among my favorites was from Tessitura Network President Andrew Recinos, who urged, “It is important to carve out your own physical workspace. We have folks who work in their basement or in a guest room. I happen to work in the attic! For those with less space, even if it is a portion of a room that has some sort of physical demarcation such as a floor-standing screen, it helps remind you and others in the house that this is work.”
Another top tip came from Mardi Dilger, Director of Ticket Operations for the Miami Marlins. She said, “Do not work from your bed or couch if possible. Get up, shower and prepare yourself for work.”
Three months later, I wrote a two-part feature on “How to Deal With Your At-Home Kids While Still Working at Your At-Home Job,” which can be found here and here. Not only had theaters, arenas and performing arts centers been forced to go dark in the early days and weeks of the COVID-19 crisis, so too had most elementary, middle, high schools and even universities sent students home to finish the semester. And even when summer came, many of the usual options such as summer camps were not available.
TicketsWest President Dusty Kurtz, father of two elementary school-age daughters, decided to go with the flow. “My wife and I decided early in the pandemic process to relax — or even break — many of our long-standing rules for the kids,” he said. “We threw out the rulebook for traditional evening bedtimes and morning routines just to allow a little bit of excitement in an otherwise drab situation.”
Rebecca Throne, Burning Man’s Head of Ticketing and mother of 9-year-old twin boys, learned she had to rather quickly get a handle on videoconferencing technology. She told me at the time: “I’ve had to default to always using a virtual background in Zoom meetings so that my children and husband are invisible when they are in the room with me. My boys very sweetly want to be near me when I’m working but get very camera shy and don’t want anyone to see them. So, they often are lounging in the bed right behind me, reading, while I take meetings, and nobody ever knows they are there!”
SecuTix Americas CEO Eric Rozenberg, father of three daughters ranging in ages from 10 to 17, had perhaps the most practical answer. “One extremely helpful strategy has been to have a schedule — not only a school schedule, but also a family schedule,” he said. “It gave them structure and allows us to work and have time together. From watching Andrea Bocelli live from the Cathedral of Milan to the 25th anniversary performance of ‘The Phantom of The Opera’ at the Royal Albert Hall to ‘Madam Secretary’ on Netflix or baking cakes or testing new recipes, the silver lining of all this has been to spend time together as never before.
But then there were those articles where I just got to have a little fun. I love online shopping. And I love reading articles highlighting things to buy that appeal to my special interests like “Star Wars,” sports and ’80s nostalgia. So, it was an easy sell to my editors when I pitched such articles as “Top 10 Items to Add Whimsy to Your Home Office” and, for the holidays, “10 Things to Buy for the Home Office Worker in Your Life.”
In terms of whimsy, my favorite suggestions included this switch plate cover that looks like a classic videogame controller and this cool desktop water feature, the HoMedics Silver Springs Relaxation Fountain. Regarding gift giving ideas, I am still partial to this “Do Not Disturb” door hanger that is also a dry-erase whiteboard and, of course, this desktop organizer shaped by the giant space slug from “The Empire Strikes Back.”
But, more often than not, I would be assigned “How to” articles that would give tips to INTIX members on how to make their remote work situations work best for them. Among the more widely read features of mine was late April’s “The Dos and Don’ts of Video Conferencing From the Home Office.”
By then, most of us had more than a few FaceTime or Zoom meetings under our belts. And it was clear some were savvier at virtual chats with colleagues than others. Among my “Do” recommendations were “DO know that proper lighting is important” and “DO pour yourself a soda or fetch a bottle of water before the videoconference starts and have it on hand to ‘wet your whistle,’ especially if you’re going to be speaking or presenting.”
On the flipside, some of my best wisdom came in such suggestions as “DON’T eat during a video conference especially with your audio on” and “DON’T go on your Facebook page, especially if you have colleagues on the video conference who are Facebook friends. If they’re on Facebook, they’ll see you on there and know you are looking at memes or counting your most recent ‘likes’ and ‘loves.’ Of course, they are also. But you are better than they are.”
All these tips and bits of advice apply to remote working in 2021, dear INTIX members. Here’s hoping the vaccine rollout accelerates and we’ll soon be back in offices and ticket offices working side by side again and talking to live human customers.
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Tags: Leadership , COVID-19 , Coronavirus , Remote Work