Times have certainly changed since my last blog post. With all of the COVID-19 health measures in place, the agency I work for (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife [ODFW]) has moved to primarily telecommuting. For me, this isn’t a huge difference since I was already working mostly remotely and have developed a routine to maintain productivity and minimize distractions throughout the day. However, I imagine that it is quite a big change for most of my coworkers that are used to working in the Newport office.
One measure my team, the Marine Reserves Program, has taken to ensure connectivity during these social distancing times is weekly virtual meetings. We start the meeting by each sharing a tip we have learned to improve this isolating experience or a suggestion we’ve heard for how to help out our community during this difficult time. Given the active nature of my team, tips often include taking the dogs on long early morning walks, setting up virtual exercise classes with friends, and making time for lunchtime yoga to keep routine and movement in your day. Suggestions for helping the community include purchasing food from local businesses and getting involved with volunteering where possible (e.g. helping distribute meals or groceries to those unable to leave their house).
Starting our weekly meetings on a positive, team-focused note makes me look forward to these Wednesday afternoon get-togethers. We’ve even started adding in silly components to distract from the seriousness of the real world and allow for us all to have a laugh. Last week we donned silly hats for our meeting, which allowed me to see my boss (Tommy) wearing his daughter’s bunny ear beanie with wire cat ears on top. Quite a sight!
While these meetings are used to keep us informed of any ODFW COVID-related changes, their primary purpose is really to keep our team connected. During this time of social isolation, staying intentionally connected is more important than ever for our mental health. I feel very lucky to be part of a team that takes the time to check in with their coworkers in both a personal and professional manner.