By Beth Dwyer
Director of Sales
I want to start by saying I love my job! I hope it doesn’t sound trite because this is from the heart and important to note before I get into my learnings. There are many reasons I love my job: At MNI, we say it’s our Team, Tech, and Tools that set us apart—and in that list of the most powerful assets we have as a company, there’s a reason ‘Team’ comes first. I work with the most amazing group of individuals who keep me on my toes and make me proud every day.
Another reason is our clients. It’s very fulfilling when you get the chance to meet new people and learn about their companies and how they run their businesses. And sometimes there’s that moment when the relationship transcends from a working partnership to a true collaboration and, if you’re lucky, friendship.
The Transition to Working from Home
Forward to today, day 134 since we started working from home on March 8. There are countless clichés about how, when the going gets tough, the tough get going and with good reason. If you freeze in place, few good things will happen, especially in sales where the funnel is long. So, go for it, and find what your new normal is.
And on to my three primary learnings, which all have the same foundations of mental well-being and empathy. But first, some overall observations:
- Your mental well-being sets the tone, so do what works best, including making space for dogs, friends, and family in your workday schedule. Recognize that schedules are now fluid—always.
- Support your team and be their constant in a sea of change—video works best for this.
- Listen, really listen. Hear what people are saying about their lives, personally and professionally, and find ways to offer support and empathy.
- Be kind, to yourself and to your team.
- Embrace change as an opportunity, not as an obstacle.
WFH Tip #1: Communication Must Change
Although we have regularly scheduled check-ins and face-to-face meetings, the type and level of communication had to change. Instead of the usual two minutes of niceties/small talk and then getting down to business, things got real very quickly. We were all coming at this new normal from different perspectives. Beyond our full-time jobs, we became teachers, caretakers, babysitters, landlords, and overwhelmed with what could be next.
We were all not OK. And that was OK, but it had to be addressed. What do you say to your team when you know they’re suffering in some way, and you can only help by listening and offering support? You LISTEN and offer SUPPORT! You reassure to the best that you can while being honest about the challenges that we face as a business. All while conducting business. The wheels still need to move forward, so the balancing act between the personal and professional is non-existent, and that’s also OK.
WFH Tip #2: The Speed of Business Must Increase
As the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, I thought there would be some slow down. But quite the opposite. Things are moving faster than ever. We have new research we want to share with our clients, new products we want to offer, new prospects to speak with—all while staying within the same four walls.
It feels as if you are on 24/7. I’m not a frontline healthcare worker sacrificing my life every day; this shouldn’t feel as devastating as it is—again, I work for a media company. But it’s not a competition—it IS difficult adjusting to the drastic changes that have happened in my small world. And that’s OK.
WFH Tip #3: Gratitude Must Be Ever-Present
I’m so thankful for the things that I used to take for granted. Before, when I got tired, I sometimes complained about the amount of traveling I did. I thought it would be nice if I could just travel a little bit less and spend more time at home. I used to curse the traffic while on the way to the office (Washington DC, enough said).
I took for granted the fantastic strength of the people I work and live with, the good health and happiness of my friends and family, and, most importantly, that each day, no matter what kind of day it would be, good, bad or indifferent, is a blessing. I now have a genuinely better understanding of how much a balancing act everyone’s day is.
Tomorrow will be my first face-to-face client meeting since March, and it feels like Christmas has come early! I can’t wait to see people, even if behind a mask. It marks a significant change, and hopefully the positive beginnings of the “next normal,” and a knowing that it will all be OK.