By Scott Ball, TBW Editor
A few weeks ago, we emailed ACI members to ask how things were going workwise during the pandemic. Essentially, we wanted to know if you were still working from home, what adaptations you were making, etc.
While we weren’t flooded with responses, we did hear from a handful. (Thank you to Amanda Nalley, Florida; Peg Craft, Missouri; Cindy Krueger, Michigan; Mark Martinez, Utah; Sara DiRienzo, Wyoming; Marty Benson, Indiana; and Jenifer Wisniewski, Tennessee.) What follows is a summary of their responses, along with some anecdotes. (Insert disclaimer here about small sample size, margin of error and all those other pollster terms.)
Working from home? Pretty much everyone is and will continue to do so until at least June.
“We have the option to work in the office if we want, and some occasionally need to go in to get a few things.” (MB)
“In warm weather, we had productive outdoor meetings and then frequent Webex meetings as well as taking advantage of Zoom Media Workshops. My dining room table is my video edit bay. Enjoying the new window view. Upped my internet to fiber for video uploading and downloading…” (PC)
Virtual Reality – Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet and Webex are the platforms of choice among those responding.
“Using Microsoft Teams for most meetings. Virtual commission meetings are through another platform.” (AN)
“Our videographer has essentially become a full-time streaming meeting director. We use Google Meet as an agency and stream our public meetings on YouTube.” (MM)
“This has actually helped the frequency of some of our meetings because we don’t have to find an open meeting room and because we have one employee whose office is 1.5 hours away. And because people can usually make these Teams meeting even from the field.” (MB)
A funny thing happened during a Zoom call…
“My 5-year-old is home with me all day, so she gets on there quite frequently. Have had pets growling, and our division director’s dog always likes to be on the camera. It’s been fun.” (AN)
“My Cats love wildlife videos and it’s been hysterical watching them watch various wildlife on the screen and pawing at them as well as their reactions to bird sounds! They are awesome Covid support pets. They can be frustrating at times, when they block my view or paw at each other from in front and behind the monitors, or step on the mixer and solo a channel.” (PC)
“Kids or pets seem to show up in almost every meeting.” (CK)
“One of our employees used a photo of the bathroom of one of our state park inns as her background.” (MB)
Have you had to discontinue or suspend any agency programs?
“We stopped our in-person women and kids saltwater fishing clinics. Also doing fewer in-person talks at fishing clubs. But did start online fishing clinics recently.” (AN)
“Many of our state park events were canceled; there were also many events modified.” (CK)
“Our events program was mostly suspended. We have done a few Facebook Live events and socially distanced events, but it’s a much smaller number than before. Our Hunter Education program was able to successfully transition online, and we actually had more students complete the course in 2020 than 2019.” (MM)
“We have set subscription records for our magazine. We are 3,000 ahead of where we were last year at this time.” (MB)
Anything else you’d like to share?
“It’s been interesting, and I’ve honestly really enjoyed this time home with my family. My husband works from home as well, and my stepdaughter was here too for most of the year. It’s a challenge, but it has been worth it.” (AN)
“I have found more productivity working from home, especially working nights or weekends for a big project or conference from the comforts of home. It’s also given me the flexibility to spend more time in nature near me rather than just writing or editing about it. It’s also been a healthier experience with more exercise and better nutrition for the sedentary aspects of the job. So, a rough disease with a few unexpected silver linings.” (PC)
“I miss seeing and interacting with people face to face. Some things are just better in person.” (CK)
What about your switchboard? – As follow-up, we asked a few folks what happens when the public calls in to their main office numbers.
“We have the main line going to what are called “soft phones” that people answer on their laptops. You can forward your desk calls to your cell phone or your soft phone that works from your laptop. We also use the Jabber app to chat amongst folks answering phones and see who are available to take calls on their laptops.” (JW)
“(We have) a telephone information center that remains staffed in-person at our HQ. Usually several folks answer phones, sometimes forwarding to agency personnel. For the most part, people are in and out of the office, depending on the nature of their work. The majority of folks are still pleased with the high level of customer service, even through difficult times, and we’ve amped up our digital information, too.” (SD)