About Coronavirus Q&A
When the COVID-19 crisis reached us in Gainesville, our instinct was to publish a leadership article about the pandemic. But the truth is, we’re in the same position as everybody else. We’re not medical professionals or global leaders. It’s not our place to tell you how to respond to lockdown measures or how to create a work-from-home routine. We’re a branding agency with clients and a team to protect. And right now, our team is understandably on edge. In just a few days, many of us have seen our partners and friends lose their jobs. Our streets are lined with restaurants and bars that are now closed. Given the enormity of these changes, we decided the most appropriate action was to give everyone at Parisleaf a voice, a creative outlet, an acknowledgment of their feelings, a safety valve for fear, and a record of our agency as we overcome our biggest challenge to date. This is the most honest action we knew how to take. During this six-part series, you’ll hear from Parisleaf employees on how they’re coping with the ongoing pandemic, both at work and in life, and how they’re finding hope and gratitude during this time of unprecedented unknowns.
You’ve been at Parisleaf for less than a year. What has it been like dealing with this crisis while you’re still adjusting to your role?
Honestly, the team has made this transition so easy. Even though I am working from home, my day-to-day expectations have stayed the same. I’m really thankful for Ali and Chad (Parisleaf’s COO and CEO) for making sure we were going to be okay. They continue to reassure us as this situation develops. I’m also thankful that Gretchen (our Senior Project Manager) trained me so well when I first started at Parisleaf. She set me up to be by myself and to feel confident in my role. That’s made this whole situation a lot easier and less stressful!
How has your role changed now that we’re all working remotely?
I was so used to being able to turn around and ask someone a question. Now I have to check their schedules then call them or message them and wait for an answer. I can’t always get immediate answers, so that’s been a transition and a practice of patience.
Gretchen and I work very closely with the production team. It’s always important to stay close to them, but it was definitely a lot easier to keep that closeness in the office. We’ve been taking extra measures to stay connected, like adding check-ins to the calendar or staying on the phone to catch up personally once we finish discussing a project. Even though we’re not physically there, the team can still lean on us if they’re feeling overwhelmed, feeling like they can’t get everything done, or feeling like they don’t have enough to do. It’s been tough trying to maintain that closeness, but it’s so important because everyone has their own stuff going on right now.
We’ve had a lot of heart-to-hearts, it’s a stressful time. Kendyl (one of our Senior Designers) shared something recently that said, “You’re not working from home. You’re at home, trying to work, during a crisis.” And that’s so true. Just being aware of that and being gentle with each other has been super important.
Have your relationships with the team strengthened during this time, even though we’re not physically together?
I miss seeing everybody in person, I really do. That was a big eye-opener for me. I didn’t realize how much energy I was siphoning from my coworkers to get me through my day. That was a really tough transition. We talk all the time and we have a similar sense of humor, so it’s oftentimes my coworkers who make me laugh throughout the day. They’ll send silly TikToks or memes and it just keeps the situation light, which is so appreciated.
I feel like I’ve gotten closer with everybody just because we’re all dealing with different things and we’re so open about it right now. We’re continuing to build this deep level of trust. I think we’re going to see that in our relationships when we’re able to get back together again. While it sucks being away and there is an in-person deficit, we’re getting stronger in different ways that will pay off in the long run.
Do you remember the last “normal” thing you did before all of this?
The weekend before we started working at home, I went wedding dress shopping. That was the last “normal” thing I did. And I feel so lucky I did it because I can’t do that right now!
We’re still a year out from our wedding so we can wait on a lot of things and our planning hasn’t been super impacted, yet. I’m doing a virtual bridal appointment at the end of the month. The longer this goes on, we’ll have to make decisions about how we’ll work around everything, but luckily we’re still a year out.
As someone with a background in journalism, how are you dealing with all of the news?
At this point, I’ve drawn a hard boundary for myself. I let myself check the news twice a day. Any more than that and I’ll spin myself up. I get a lot of my news from Twitter, so I was checking it constantly and I got so anxious about it. I would go to my fiancé, Iain, with all of these worst-case scenarios, and he finally told me I needed to stop. Now, I look in the morning while I wake up and have my coffee, and I’ll look again sometime in the evening. It’s helped a lot to disconnect because I want to stay informed but I can’t thrive off of reading the news every second.
I’ve also been trying to seek out more positive news. For example, I’ve seen stories of penguins being able to explore aquariums while they’re empty. I love hearing positive stories from the countries that are now recovering from Coronavirus. Cat things, of course, and any other animal stories or videos. I’ve seen a lot of stories of people doing nice things for others, and that makes me smile so I’ve been seeking that out a lot more. I hope those are two things I carry over, being okay with disconnecting and continuing to seek out the positive stories.
What other at-home things are you doing?
I know some people have been on the puzzle train, but I haven’t broken down and done one quite yet. I don’t know if I have the patience for a puzzle. I started reading a lot more, which was one of my New Year’s resolutions. So in a way, I’ve been forced to live out my resolution. I’d mostly been reading self-help books toward the end of last year and decided to make the switch to fiction. I just finished reading Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. There were a lot of tie-ins about elephants, which are my favorite animal. You think you have the story figured out at the end, but then your mind is blown. Total twist ending. Now I’m reading Drew Barrymore’s autobiography.
I’ve been a lot more active – taking a lot of walks and riding my spin bike at the house. I’ve been dancing a lot more, too! I was a dancer for 15 years and that came to a halt about two years ago. So the other day I busted out my tap shoes and danced in my attic. It was so much fun. I also have a Nintendo Switch coming in the mail, so I’m going to get Animal Crossing and see what all the hype is about.
Tell me about something that has really surprised you.
How empty the streets are and all the closed things in Gainesville. It’s been really jarring. Iain and I were frequent restaurant-goers, and we’re still ordering take-out a couple of times a week to support our local favorites, but it’s hard to see so many doors closed and not see anyone out on the streets. Never once did I imagine I’d see something like this in my entire life.
On a positive note, I’m much calmer about the situation than I was a couple of weeks ago. I’m more accepting of it, and I’ve really just adopted an attitude of gratitude for what I have. I’m so thankful to have my job and to be in this type of role. I have many friends who worked in the service industry who don’t have jobs anymore. My old roommate from college is a Navy nurse and was just shipped off to New York City to help relieve nurses there. My brother’s girlfriend is a nurse in Ft. Myers and she’s working on a COVID floor. I just know so many people in healthcare and they’re all heroes.
How are you dealing with being separated from your family?
We do Zoom calls with my family in Florida, but also with my mom’s side of the family who live in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Tennessee. It’s been a lot of fun to connect with them. My mom and I Facetime a lot. We make sure to communicate on a deep level and I’ve really learned how I can be there to support her when she needs it. My brother and I also call each other a lot more often now. I feel like I’m talking to my extended family more and it’s been a really nice new thing to add to my life.
What have you learned during this social distancing period?
I’ve learned I can exercise every day. I spent a lot of time telling myself that wasn’t possible, but I can do that. I’ve learned how to be a better friend, daughter, fiancée, and sister to people without physically seeing them or being able to touch them. Not by giving them a hug or kiss, but by using my words to show my support. Communication is a good way to sum that up. I’ve also learned that I need to be better about spending time taking care of myself. I’m usually the last person I think about. Sometimes I need to put myself first.
I’m thankful to be in a place where I can support local businesses and support people in the healthcare field by donating to different things, like getting masks made because there’s such a shortage. I’m grateful I have a fiancé and a cat that lives with me – they’ve both been my rocks through all of this. And, again, I’m so thankful for Parisleaf. I’ve never had such a close-knit group of coworkers in my life. A lot of times, my coworkers are the reasons I laugh multiple times a day. I don’t know if I’d laugh as much if I didn’t have Parisleaf. I’m grateful to be where I’m at, and I feel like when this is over, I really want to take that attitude of gratitude with me, and continue looking for places where I can be of service to somebody else and help out.
I also want to take the opportunity to express gratitude for a couple of people in my life. First, I love Gretchen so much. I don’t know how you want to write that, but you can put, in all caps, I LOVE YOU GRETCHEN! She has really been my rock, she’s the person I call whenever I need anything, good or bad. She’s so great. The second person is Iain because I think I’d still be drowning in news every second of the day if I didn’t have him. He’s wonderful, and I’m so grateful to have him. He’s been so supportive and I don’t know what I would’ve done during this time without him.
What are three questions you don’t have the answer for?
When will this end? I wish I had that answer and just don’t. And I know it’s at the top of everyone’s list.
What is the world going to look like after this? What will the new normal be?
How will I change after this? Not only as a person but also in how I see things. I feel like it’s so hard to tell right now, being so cooped up and siloed in my own little area. It’ll be dependent on a lot of things and how the world has changed, but I think we’ll all come out different than we were before.
Find more Coronavirus Q&As and other resources here.