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COLUMN — Evaluating the work-from-home experience

The year 2020 has brought about many changes to the way we have typically done things. Some of these changes have been negative, some have been positive and some have been a mix of both.

By far the most significant change for me has been working from home.

If you had a time machine and went back to visit 2019 Titus and told him I had only been to the office twice between mid-March and September this year, I would be really confused.

Alexa Massey and Crystal Vandegrift are my fellow reporters in the newsroom. Yes, I either see or hear from them regularly in Google Meet video conferences. But in person, I have not seen Alexa since we both covered the Health Care Heroes Parade on April 23, and I have not seen Crystal since March.

It’s crazy to think about that. And yet we have been asked to reimagine this year how we do a lot of routine things.

I have really enjoyed being able to work from home. It offers more freedom in how to specifically structure the day’s workflow, and it also offers a relatively peaceful solitude in which to work. That latter is particularly useful for transcribing substandard recordings or for writing in general.

I also have enjoyed the brief field trips that occasionally break up that new routine, like when I go out to cover an event or when Editor Roger Watson sends me out to get a photo. More than ever before, those feel like fun little excursions.

One field trip I took this week for the first time since March was to a government meeting. I attended the Prince Edward CARES Act Committee meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 1, at the SCOPE Building. The committee members and county staff were all socially distanced, and they kindly set out a chair out for me to use, positioned where I could take everything in.

Being at that meeting reminded me of one of the negatives of working from home. It’s significantly harder to hear everyone clearly in government meetings over the phone, and depending on how far people are from the phone receiver, it may even be impossible to hear them. This issue was largely eliminated by being there in person.

It was also valuable to be able to get up and talk in-person after the meeting to Assistant County Administrator Sarah Elam Puckett and County Administrator Wade Bartlett, asking questions and learning of timely new story possibilities that often come out of only those impromptu conversations.

Another negative about working from home so much is it solidifies that my job title of sports editor is, for now, largely an honorary thing. But I’m grateful the potential is there for a busy spring, featuring all three high school sports seasons.

On the whole, though, I’ve definitely counted most of my at-home working experience in 2020 as a positive. I’m grateful for a boss and company that have granted that flexibility.

And at the very least, 2020 has given us a great opportunity to count our blessings.

Titus Mohler is the sports editor for The Kenbridge-Victoria Dispatch and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. His email address is Titus.Mohler@KVDispatch.com.