Every year, we survey hundreds of digital marketing agencies to find out what makes them tick. The resulting State of the Agency report helps agencies orient themselves to the bigger picture and discover new resources.
Well, COVID-19 has changed the way we tick, as individuals. And with so many of us in isolation—not to mention in an unprecedented situation—it can be easy at times to feel like you’re in the dark. So we thought we’d conduct a “state of the employee” within our own company in hopes of gleaning practical tips and encouragement around coping with COVID-19—and with such a diverse group of bright minds as the WordStream team, we were not disappointed.
In this more personal COVID-19 survival guide, we’re providing you with pick-me-ups, pandemic coping techniques, positive affirmations, and of course—adorable pet and kid pics—from none other than the WordStream team.
WordStreamers share their challenges, silver linings, and practical tips on life during lockdown.
What has been most challenging about working from home?
Many of the challenges were typical of remote work.
- “Even though I’ve been really lucky to be with family, some social isolation and lack of purpose has made it hard to stay productive at times.” – Amanda Oles
- “Putting together a work station that allows me to be as productive at home as I am in the office.” – Steve Greatorex
Some of the challenges reminded us of how lucky we are to have such a great team that we enjoy being around every day.
- “As a remote employee in Colorado, I’m already limited on my face-to-face interaction with my team, so I really value my monthly trips back to the Boston office. Not being able to do that and not knowing when the next visit will be makes it especially difficult.” – Bobby Kittredge
- “I miss my teammates!” – Betsy Sachs
And some of the challenges were a bit more unique (but very relatable), like uncooperative coworkers.
What has been most challenging about at-home life?
We’ve haven’t only switched to working full-time from home, but also to carrying out the rest of our lives full-time at home, making the ever-present pursuit of work/life balance even more challenging:
- “Not overworking. It’s so easy to get on early, stay on late, keep checking email, have meetings whenever…so it’s been hard keeping structure and not feeling guilty about stopping work.” – Kristen Yerardi
- “Leaving the office is a definitive ‘end’ to the day. But since I can’t leave my home, it has been hard saying ‘Okay, I am done now.’” – Erik Mansur
And of course with gyms and schools closed, keeping up with exercise, health, and learning has become harder:
- “Staying on track with a daily routine (working all day, working out, cooking dinner). When you’re at home, it’s easy to take the easy way out!”- Alex Niemeyer
- “It’s been challenging balancing working from home while also helping my daughter with distance learning.” – Chris Ryan
- “Living back at home has reverted me back to my parents’ grocery list, which I’m realizing is way too carb- and ice cream-heavy haha. Love to take over and cook something healthy every so often!”- Amanda Oles
Although for some of us, indoor exercise has not been a challenge…
Courtesy of the Wordstream #cuteanimals Slack channel
Some of the challenges remind us to be grateful that we have such great teammates, family, and friends to miss.
- “Missing family and friends (a big part of my life!) and planning my wedding for October 2020.” – Christina Zichelle
- “I am not from Boston and I don’t have family anywhere close. It has been hard for me not being able to go and spend this quarantine with them.” – Francine Rodriguez
- “Not being able to see friends/family face-to-face.”- Chris Boudreau
Although smartphones and Zoom help to alleviate that some of that…
For many of us, the commute was a nice source of “me” time and daily structure, so that has left a bit of a gap.
- “I actually find I have less time for podcasts without my commute.” – Mitchell Leiman
- “I walked to and from work every day, and I miss that time to myself to either get ready for the day or decompress after a stressful day.” – Emily Riedy
- “Not having a daily routine outside of the household! I (oddly) miss having a commute to work, taking a coffee-run break, going to the gym after work, and running an errand on the way home!” – Nicole Desisto
What is something positive that has come out of this for you?
Having more family time was, by far, the most common response among employees.
- “I’m at home in Vermont, so I was able to celebrate birthdays, Mother’s Day, college decisions, etc. in person that I otherwise wouldn’t have.” – Amanda Oles
- “Getting to be with my cat Phoenix all day.”- Ali Glennon (Yes, pets are family!)
Ali Glennon’s cat Phoenix just popping in for a meeting.
Also, while many reported having trouble establishing a routine, there were equally as many who reported the situation giving way to better and healthier routines, and being better able to stick to them. Some other perks include:
- “Getting more projects done around the house, and I’m now more comfortable working from home.” – Chris Boudreau
- “I’ve found new ways to verify work and organization among my team, which I will carry on.” – Michael Maloney
- “I’ve gotten plenty of rest! I am also in a much healthier routine, now that I have the time to pay more attention to it.” – Nicole Desisto
And these silver linings were especially nice:
- “Watching my kids step up and really lean into home learning. They are stressed, but I’m so proud of them getting up in the morning on their own, taking their calls, doing their work … they are really surprising me, and I’m so proud.”- Kristen Yerardi
- “Appreciating friends and family, enjoying a simple night in with loved ones, and saving money.” – Alex Niemeyer
Kristen Yerardi is one of many WordStreamers enjoying the extra family time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you have kids, how have you been handling child care?
This question had the fewest responses, and those who did respond either said “n/a” or something delightfully irrelevant.
- “I have a cat named Bootsy. She is living her best life with me home all the time.”- Betsy Sachs
- “My dog loves belly rubs”- Steve Greatorex
So either not many parents filled out this survey because they’re busy handling childcare, or there’s just not much to say about it: You just do it.
Or perhaps your child has become a diligent office assistant …
What mantras, affirmations, or quotes are helping you through?
- “This too shall pass.” (Multiple WordStreamers responded with this one!)
- “Keep grinding” – Bobby Kittredge
- “Take it day by day.” – Peter Kazlas
- “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” – Mitchell Leiman
- “Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” – Steve Greatorex
- “Just staying positive through it all.” – Chris Ryan
- “You’re gonna come out of quarantine better or worse. It’s up to you to decide which one it is.” – Michael Maloney
- “Control what you can control, express gratitude for what you have and how lucky you are for the things that often get taken for granted.” – Anonymous
- “You’re never alone. It’s okay to not feel okay. It could always be worse. You’re only going to come out of this stronger, more resourceful, more resilient, and more thankful.”- Emily Riedy
And Greg Herrmann pointed to the Dave Matthews Band song “When I’m Weary.”
As we had hoped, the responses to questions throughout the survey were loaded with tips and ideas. For example, many WordStreamers had great tips on staying active and breaking up the day.
- “Never leaving my backroom office for a whole day was NOT doing it for me. So I’ve started mid-day runs, moving locations after lunch, etc. to combat that.” – Amanda Oles
- “I carve out time for getting up and stretching. It’s very easy to forget that you have been sitting down for the past 8 straight hours.” – Emily Riedy
- “I take little breaks between projects. Walk around, check the news ..just don’t be in front of the computer.” – Peter Kazlas
- “I shower in the middle of the day now. A nice way to keep things fresh.”- Zach Day (We see what you did there, Zach)
- “I used to work out at the BSC in our building before work, but now working out during the day is a great way to break up the day and get outside during the nicest part of the day.” – Betsy Sachs
If walking or cardio isn’t an option for you, yoga is a gentler way to keep your body active while also reducing stress. Our very own Kelley Hwang has been leading virtual yoga classes for fellow Wordstreamers.
Thank you Kelley Hwang for sharing your yoga expertise!
Some WordStreamers had tips for remaining producing while working during the pandemic.
- “I start the day out early so that I can get as much done as possible.” – Chris Ryan
- “I am not a very good cook and now I have to make myself three meals a day. I have learned to make Sundays a big meal prep day.” – Francine Rodriguez
- “I’m finding ways to squeeze in household chores throughout the day so I don’t have to do it all over the weekend.” – Jessica Jameson
Of course, you can also delegate some of your work, like Mai.
And some final ideas:
- “I have a daily after-work schedule of fun things to do to keep me busy and in a good routine.”- Francine Rodriguez
- “We started a new family tradition. Every morning, my mom, sister, and nieces do a Zoom daily devotional. It’s a great way to start the day and connect with family.” – Christina Zichelle
- “I bought a subscription to MasterClass and have been loving the courses.” – Steve Greatorex
Many of use are making use of nature and art, too. Even if you’re not “artistic” or “outdoorsy,” you’d be surprised at how therapeutic they can be when you just go for it. And speaking of nature, we’ll leave you with this …
A beautiful view courtesy of Betsy Sachs’ home office.