Greene Countians are learning new work routines, finding time to complete “to do” projects, meeting and keeping in touch online as they learn to be “homebodies” in response to the call to stay home to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Conference calls, video meetings and email are now the way that many are keeping in touch with their co-workers.
People are also using Facebook and other social media to keep in contact and share about the new normal.
HOME AS A WORKPLACE
As many Greene Countians find themselves working from home, Melissa Ripley offers this advice from a year’s experience working remotely.
“Stay on routine, prepare like you are ‘going’ to work and keep office space neat,” Ripley said. “And take a lunch break.”
Amy Rose, public relations manager for the Town of Greeneville, is working from home part of the time and returning to her office when needed.
For Rose, the biggest adaptation may not be for her, but for the four-legged inhabitants of her house.
“My pets are very clingy and seem bummed out when I pay more attention to my laptop,” she said. “I guess they really do miss us when we’re at work.”
Rebecca Muncey, who works in East Tennessee State University’s Office of University Advancement, said the coronavirus has changed how she interacts with those she needs to contact during her workday.
“I usually visit with alumni and donors face to face, usually for coffee or over a meal,” Muncey said. “Now, I am trying to check in with our alumni and donors to see how they are doing through this unprecedented time. I am having good conversations with folks, but now it is over the phone and through email more.”
Communicating with her coworkers has come through online video meetings and phone calls.
“I am very thankful that we are able to still work from home,” she said. “The biggest adjustment is obviously not seeing people daily, which is my favorite part of my job. I miss the interactions with our constituents as well as the faculty and staff and colleagues across campus.”
While working at home, Muncey said she has tried to get up when she normally does, get one thing accomplished first thing in the morning whether work or personal and then enjoy some coffee and a walk with her dog while reading or listening to the news before settling in to work.
Her day also includes at least 30 minutes of exercise, she said, and importantly, she would advise no news or television at all for an eight-hour period to not add any more stress to the workday.
Jane Brown, a nursing professor at Tusculum University, says she is learning several new technologies working from home as the university is conducting all its classes online. Her interactions with students and colleagues is by phone, email and the Zoom app.
While Jonita Ashley of Mountain Song Jewelers is not working from home because the shop on Tusculum Boulevard remains open, interaction with customers is now limited to online only. Much of the shop’s business is online, both locally and globally, she said, and they have seen an increase in sales for this time of year.
“Some of our older customers who aren’t online as much are having a harder time understanding why we, and so many other businesses, have moved to implement health and safety precautions,” Ashley said.
Ashley has a daughter in middle school, but she said that no restlessness has set in from being unable to see her friends at school. Her daughter and friends video chat all the time and created their own games online.
“They are very much connected,” she said.
STAYING BUSY AT HOMEThose not working at home are finding time to do projects, such as spring cleaning, or staying in contact with others through electronic means.
One ladies’ Bible study group has found a way to use the Zoom video conferencing application to continue meeting. The group was getting ready Wednesday afternoon to have their first Zoom session, said Sherry Wright.
“We started it 5 weeks ago and the study is timely entitled, “Living Victoriously in Difficult Times,” she said.
Folks may be missing John Price and his Top Dog Hot Dog food truck around town for a few weeks.
“I’ve gone from Hot Dog Man to Laundry and Dish Man,” he said. Price said during this voluntarily break from business, he is also able to get some work done on his classic 1940s Dodge car.
With schools out, Gwyn Southerland said her days are filled with taking care of her grandkids and helping them with their homework.
Southerland is taking advantage of days without rain for planting seeds to begin a garden. Her days have also been filled with cooking and “of course spring cleaning,” she said.
Cooking and cleaning are also what Darlene McCleish said has filled part of her days.
“Sometimes after cooking and cleaning, I don’t have a lot of time to get other things done,” she said.
McCleish has been regularly posting on Facebook about her days spent at home for the past several days after people nationwide have been encouraged to limit their contact with others by governmental and health officials.
“I started journaling on my own page,” she said. “It helps me keep track of days and what I have been able to do.”
One goal is completing a variety of projects.
“Each day, I’ll find four to six projects that I would like to do,” she said. “I usually get one or two done. In retirement, I have found you can always say ‘I can do that tomorrow.’ Right now, everyone who is at home can say ‘I can do that tomorrow.’”
Part of her day and that of her husband, John Brown, is spent on the computer. On Wednesday morning, she was getting an initial experience of ordering groceries and other merchandise online for pickup later.
“I enjoy shopping, but right now, I am trying to do it online,” McCleish said.
Posting on Facebook, McCleish said she asked what others were doing.
“It was amazing to see some of their responses,” she said. Craft projects, planting flowers and vegetables and volunteering at places like food banks are what some have been doing.
“I also have a friend who is a retired history teacher in New Jersey who is writing a book about his favorite 50 Beatles songs,” she said.