By: Lauren Hornbuckle
In the beginning of March 2020, I said my good-byes as I left the Raze Media office for spring break. As a college student graduating in May, I was ready to have a week off, but I still looked forward to getting back to my daily routine of work, school, and extracurriculars. With no worries in the world, I departed from Dallas, Texas.
In three short days, everything came to an abrupt stop. First, the news flooded with information about COVID-19. Then, my school announced that classes would be online for the remainder of the semester. Shortly after that, I was notified that Raze Media will be working from home until further notice. In the blink of an eye, I was on the next flight home to my parent’s house in California with only a small suitcase intended for my spring break trip. Within a few days, I continued my school and work-life, only now it was all virtual.
How I prepared to work from home
My laptop quickly became my work computer, my notebook, my classroom, and my main form of communication. As I processed the changes that came along with working from home, I decided to make a plan. I knew it was important to stay organized in order to work efficiently at home. I created a dedicated workspace to prevent any distractions around the house. I then worked with my intern supervisor to gain access to all accounts and sites needed. Finally, I created a daily to-do list to hold myself accountable for the work expected of me both in school and work.
Challenges that come with working remotely
In this day and age, we are very equipped with technology and working on computers. However, no one expected to take their school and work-life home and lose daily face to face interaction. Luckily, as a digital agency, Raze Media was equipped to work remotely prior to this crisis. It was a seamless transition for our company to begin work at remote locations. However, in order to cope with these day-to-day changes, Raze Media began hosting daily video conferences to touch base on the status of projects, assign tasks and check-in with one another. Although we communicated each morning through a video conference, our daily communication was restricted. Our quick questions and comments turned into constant phone calls or conversations through various messaging apps. We were challenged to adapt to this virtual workspace and still deliver high-quality work for our clients.
On top of the digital obstacles for my internship, working from home also created challenges within the household. With four other working family members in my house, we had to take the time to find individual workspaces and balance our work calls and meetings. I had to juggle both my internship and schoolwork through many emails, phone calls, and video conferences. Although we are usually glued to the screens of our cellphones or computers, the biggest challenge overall was not having a face to face interaction with my fellow classmates or co-workers.
How I have adjusted socially
Along with the challenges that came with working from home, I was also faced with the challenge to adjust socially. As a college student, I am always planning out each day and constantly on the go. But suddenly, all of my plans were canceled, and I was forced to learn how to keep occupied inside the four walls of my home. I quickly learned that I needed to take advantage of virtual communication. I began scheduling facetime dates with my friends and family members across the country to catch up and distract from the limitations that followed COVID-19. At Raze Media, we had a work virtual happy hour in order to keep the feel of our agency life and culture. Finding new and virtual ways to keep in touch with friends, family members, and co-workers really helped me adjust socially during this unprecedented time.
Things I have learned from this experience
One of the positives in this experience is that I was quickly able to learn the discipline that comes with working remotely. Most people work their entire careers in offices in order to have the luxury of working from home. As a college student, I typically would not have had the chance to gain this unexpected skill of working remotely, but now I understand the importance of using conference tools and keeping organized while working outside of the office away from my co-workers.
Moreover, through this unprecedented time, I learned that working from home can be a challenge but is also doable through organization and virtual communication. It is important to always be prepared for unexpected situations. Utilizing communication, virtually in this case, will help overcome many challenges. Daily calls and video chats have guided my internship and schoolwork as I learn to work efficiently from home. Specifically, I act like I am still in the office environment by working at an organized desk, completing work during normal office hours and prioritizing my assigned tasks.
This experience allowed me to reflect on the benefits of evolving technology, but also understand the importance of looking away from our screens and appreciating face to face interaction between family members, classmates, and fellow colleagues.