Making work work during pandemic

Mon, 03/30/2020 - 10:15am

    With the COVID-19 outbreak, many residents have been adapting to working remotely. What it means to work from home varies greatly for each profession and for Lorna Weber of Wiscasset, it means two very different professions. Weber is both an assistant vice president mortgage loan officer at the First National Bank in Boothbay Harbor and a fitness instructor at Wiscasset Community Center (WCC). Both jobs have now become remote, and she’s made some unique adjustments to make it work.

    When WCC closed, Weber wanted to do something for the growing numbers of people taking classes. So she streamed live classes from her own Facebook group, and now through a WCC Facebook group Recreation Programmer Chelsea Taylor created. Weber said via email interview, “The response ... has been amazing, especially when it was opened up to non-members.” Weber said the technology has been an adjustment. “Now my equipment is my cell phone, an iPod and a JBL speaker in my 10 x 12 breezeway.” But positives abound. “The community and positivity expressed in the group is uplifting to say the least! Of course it helps that my husband has been very supportive when he has to stay out of my ‘offices’ for periods of time!”

    As for Weber’s full-time job at the First, the bank, like many others, closed its lobbies and limited in-person interactions. She’s very thankful for her team. “We are truly blessed to have such a strong and supportive leadership team, and very talented IT people,” but she misses the in-person interactions in both jobs. “I miss the energy that happens in the live classes, and in-person mortgage loan interviews are more productive because of the way the conversation flows, so I’m looking forward to resuming business as usual!”

    Wiscasset Area Chamber of Commerce Administrative Assistant Pat Cloutier is no stranger to working remotely and was prepared when she had to vacate her building Lincoln County owns. “In my past life I worked for a large printing company in sales and was able to work remotely for several years and when we moved here in 2001, I remained working remotely.” Plus, she has worked remotely a few times for the Chamber when between offices.

    Cloutier has remained positive. “I have little distraction, I'm set up on the kitchen table with a lovely view of the outside with the sun shining in, and with all the technological advances in computers, I have few wants.” But she misses her office mates and the  face to face meetings. She said the Chamber plays an important role in making sure members and the community have the resources and support they need. “The Chamber is ready to help so please call or email with your questions, comments or concerns. We will be at your disposal.”

    The transition to working from home came quickly for teachers such as Donna Footer, who teaches second grade at Wiscasset Elementary School (WES). The turnaround time was short, Footer said via email interview. But, she said, “We knew that we could prepare lessons, materials, supplies, but we wanted to help ease the worry that we knew families would have.” She and other teachers tried to help the transition by giving parents ideas such as taking lessons in small doses, urging them not to try to fully recreate a school day, and telling them their home schooling might not look like someone else’s.

    “We are so happy that many parents, while a bit nervous about taking on this role, have embraced the time learning and exploring different tasks as a family,” Footer said. Knowing there may be some challenges with internet access and technology tools at home, Footer said they also sent students home with materials to make sure they had what they needed. Ultimately she said, “We wish we were at school with our students and are committed to helping and cheering from the sidelines. Any experiences that families have while on this journey will assist the growth of their children…there isn’t just one correct way to go about this.”