At Well Done, we’re lucky. Most of the challenging work our clients send our way can be accomplished remotely. With several of our largest clients in the healthcare industry, we have stayed busy in recent weeks helping craft coronavirus messaging for our central Indiana community.
Working from home presents its own unique set of challenges. “Most people perform best and are most productive when a few specific conditions are present,” said marriage and family therapist, Travis Nelson. “When they know what is expected of them in clear terms, when they feel supported, when they care about what they are doing, and when they feel appreciated. All of these conditions come from contact with people.”
Physical contact is in short supply these days. Everyone reacts to isolation differently. So, we decided to explore how working from home affects introverts and extroverts in disparate ways.
After a quick Google search, I was disappointed in the relative lack of scholarly content on the subject. Most of what I found were jokey blogs implying that social distancing is every introvert’s dream come true–an idea I, as an introvert, found somewhat insulting.
I also discovered extroverts are more common than introverts, by about five or six to one. But it’s important to note that most people do not fall neatly into one camp or the other. “It’s much more helpful to think of introversion and extroversion as a scale or a continuum where we all fall somewhere in the middle, with some characteristics of both, but not 100% one or the other,” Nelson said.
As we all navigate a new way of working over the next few weeks, it’s important to recognize your coworkers’ different personality types and the needs and challenges those traits may manifest in their work. “We need to find meaning in our day-to-day activities,” Nelson said, “and we all may need to be creative to do this. Introverts and extroverts are both going to experience challenges with socially isolating, and it’s essential that we support and have patience and understanding with those differences.”
If our agency has one secret to successful home working, our president Lisa Vielee argues it’s kindness. “One thing that is nice about Well Done is how everyone is doing a really great job recognizing each other’s work and offering kindness,” she said. “I’m not sure every company has gotten the hang of that like we have.”
Nelson offers these coping strategies to people who may be challenged by social isolation and working from home:
- Join a regular, live podcast. These are popping up like crazy on YouTube. They are interactive and you can join in the conversations with lots of other people on a variety of topics.
- Use FaceTime or other video chat rather than just social media. Seeing another face on a screen emotionally feels like closer contact than a text message or Twitter thread.
- Get outside and take walks regularly, multiple times per day if possible. Consistent exercise will help alleviate built up anxiety. Plus, you may run into neighbors out on walks and at least have a 15-second conversation as you pass by (with at least six feet of space between people!)
- Get a focused activity. For introverts, the isolation is likely to lead to anxiety, and anxiety leads to restlessness and unfocused energy. Finding something to do that occupies your time in a productive way can help manage the anxiety.
At Well Done, we tend to lean towards the introverted side of the spectrum. We wanted to share how some of our staff is coping with working from home amidst the constraints of social distancing.
The drain of staying connected:
“I am an introvert, but I play an extrovert on TV,” said creative director Ken Honeywell. “I typically love working at home, and typically get a lot done when I do. But my biggest challenge right now is that there’s a constant need for connection—virtual connection via phone, text, social, etc. It can be just as exhausting for an introvert to have to be connected this way—maybe even more exhausting, because now everyone is sort of invading my sanctuary. Even though I’m hiding out at home, there’s no place to hide.”
Growth through adversity:
“Thus far I feel like I’m going a little stir crazy with little/no socialization,” said our director of sales & marketing, Molly Kruger. “I also am finding I prefer to communicate in person and sometimes not being able to can result in some anxiety. I am a creature of habit and enjoy a good routine, so although working from home has been more difficult than I would have thought, it is forcing me to adapt and therefore growing me as a person!”
Missing random hugs:
“I’m also a social introvert or an extraverted introvert—whatever that’s called!” said writer/producer, Cathy Kightlinger. “So, yes, I like working from home—so far. And it’s kind of novel to talk to all of my co-workers through Slack and see their cool at-home workspaces. It’s also really uplifting to watch live music from home—lots of Indianapolis musicians are scheduling live streams, letting us tip them through Venmo and PayPal.”
“On another level, I realize that I’m not really touching anyone other than my partner, Keith, and I think I miss the energy of random hugs or just being within three feet of my friends. That that’s important to me is a big surprise because I’ve always believed myself not to be much of a hugger.”
The temptation of Nintendo:
“Working from home is pretty great, honestly,” said associate creative director Nick Honeywell. “But I do miss seeing my smart and talented coworkers. The biggest challenge is probably sitting next to my Switch all day trying not to play it.”
Too much news and too many snacks:
“And as an extrovert who’s also a worrier, the news has not been a great friend to me,” said our director of public relations, Casey Cawthon. “I feel like it’s easier for me to get lost in my own thoughts when there aren’t as many (or adult) people to talk to. My biggest frustration is the speed in which I ate my isolation snacks, but that’s probably a different issue altogether!”
The Well Done Marketing team has been staying in and working from home during the effort to flatten the coronavirus curve in Indiana. While we continue to be busy doing all we can for our clients during this crisis, many other projects have been postponed or put on hold for the time being.
We’ve filled some of this surplus time by collecting our own ideas and suggestions for weathering this time of uncertainty, grief, economic hardship, and time away from friends and loved ones. It’s our own small way of showing how we’re #INthistogether.