This week it’s my pleasure to introduce to you Mary Ellen Miller, APR.  Mary Ellen, or Mel, as she is known to her friends, is my second guest blogger.  I can’t remember how Mel and I initially met, but it was probably on a nonprofit board of directors or committee.

Here’s a more formal introduction of Mel, and a bit of information about her:  Mary Ellen Miller, APR, is an accredited public relations professional and lifelong professional communicator. She owned her own PR firm, MarketingMel, for six years prior where she became extremely familiar with the concept of teleworking. She is currently employed as a full-time public relations contractor to the TVA.

I invited Mel to share some tips about working from  home, or teleworking, since many of us are currently finding ourselves in that situation because of COVID-19.  These are all things that Mary Ellen has learned and practiced;  I have witnessed that they have made her very productive and successful.

 Maintain a personal routine

Get up at your usual time. Take a shower. Men, shave. Women, put on your make up. Remember, you are going to work; you just have a much shorter commute.

Wear your standard “uniform.”

Even though it’s an old joke we’ve all heard about wearing pajamas to work, don’t do it! Wear whatever you would normally wear to your job. In current times that tends to be business casual. If you have a company shirt with a logo that you normally wear to work, wear it. It serves as a reminder that you are at work.

Have your computer in a separate room, ideally a home office

You want to keep all of your work organized in one room. Then when you leave that physical location it helps you to mentally “leave work” as you “leave the office.” Hint: The kitchen table is not an ideal workplace.

Use the device’s camera capabilities

While I know that not everyone likes to see themselves on camera, this is actually very important in the world of social distancing. It enables us to see one another and therefore engage the different aspects of interpersonal communications (at least 65% nonverbal and 35% verbal.)

Use WebEx teams (and Zoom, etc.) to stay connected

Just in the last two weeks there has been an explosion of meetings via WebEx and zoom. Of it’s essential for work, but my Rotary Club and Church Community groups are now using these technology tools to stay connected.

If you are in an organization that helps you feel connected, meet online

Since our church can no longer meet as a congregation in person, we now meet electronically via the web and Facebook live each Sunday morning. Keep your other organizatons going electronically as well. It’s important to the human psyche to stay connected.

Look for future trends and stay positive

Something good is bound to come out of all this! I have a dear friend who runs a small shop in Western New York. She has an infant clothing product line. Although her store is currently closed she foresees a baby “boomlet” in about nine months.

 Exercise

If you’re like me you enjoyed “hitting the gym.” But nice long walks (at a social distance of course) through the neighborhood help keep both my dog and me sane. I’ve also started back with some hand weights and sit ups as that is part of my “normal” gym routine.

Be Kind

Check on elderly neighbors and those who may otherwise fall through the cracks. Don’t forget the people who have helped you all along over the years. (I am thinking of cleaning ladies, nannies, babysitters, etc.) They may have recently fallen on hard times due to a sudden loss of business.

Give to the charity of your choice

Our church is always our number one priority for giving (and all places of worship need us to remember them right now!) With times being tight and more people than ever needing basic necessities, think about a charity that resonates with you and then give to it. You will be glad you did!

Mary Ellen Miller is an accredited public relations professional who lives in Johnson City, Tenn. with her husband Dan, her teenage son Skyler and her Jack Russell Terrier mix, Lucky. Reach her @MarketingMel on twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

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