Museum Studies Blog

Posted on January 30th, 2021 in Blog by Laura Holzman

By Madeline Baker, IUPUI Museum Studies MA student

If you had told any museum professional at the beginning of 2020 that they might go more than a year without seeing their colleagues consistently face to face, they would look at you like you were crazy. Well…here we are at the start of 2021, Zoom stock is up, we mostly see our colleagues through a screen, and *maybe* on an occasional special trip to our museum sites. As we aim to protect museum employees and remain effective museum professionals, how can we best work from home? Can the same level of productivity and professionalism we encounter in the office continue? Experience would point to yes but working from home does not come without an adjustment period and new challenges. Consider these tips for working from home as we continue to navigate these unprecedented times. 

  1. Maintain boundaries. Work-life balance…a buzz word for all working professionals. Maybe you mastered it before, maybe you are still striving for the perfect balance. Now more than ever it will be important to create boundaries between home and work life. Set strict rules for when and where you will work and when you will not.
  2. Temper expectations. Working from home consistently is a relatively new concept for many organizations. As we continue to learn together, it can be helpful to tailor your expectations to your new workflow. Projects may take longer, more meetings may be needed…it’s a new ball game! Be sure to not overly compare your new workflow to your old one…they may be different!
  3. Create new systems. The way you keep track of projects and deadlines may need to change while working from home. Don’t be afraid to create new systems of organization that are more tailored to your work from home environment.
  4. Communicate, communicate, communicate. The way we communicate in a remote setting has to be different than face to face conversations. Miscommunications will be more likely than ever, and it is important to make sure everyone is on the same page. Utilize emails, video chats, online messaging, and any other form of communication that is effective for your team. Check-in with yourself and your team regularly!
  5. Take breaks. More than likely you are now working in an environment by yourself. There are no longer water cooler or break room chats…we now have to create our own breaks. Set a timer and take a short break at least every hour. Notice how your productivity changes!
  6. Go outside. Getting fresh air and sunshine is so important for our physical and mental health. Working from an office allowed us to be outside to and from the car, at a minimum. Remember to still incorporate those moments into your workday…you will see and feel the difference in your work!
  7. Have a designated working space and environment that you enjoy. Create a workspace from your home that is functional and that you enjoy being in. Pay attention to the ergonomics of your space and try to separate your work area from your relaxation space. Consider adding background music or candles to help create a relaxing ambiance!
  8. Be kind to yourself. These are unprecedented times, filled with lots of ups and downs. Don’t be hard on yourself if you have bad days or feel overwhelmed. Do the best you can and remember we are all in this together!