The following is the sixth volume of our series, Work vs. the World. For a few more weeks, I will continue to interview individual team members about their work and how work and life are being affected by current events. As local governments continue to phase out stay-at-home orders, I aim to explore what it is like to be a part of the advertising industry in 2020 -- life at home, life at work, and life when “at work” means at “home.”
As Rockit Science Agency's Interactive Director, Kyle Baker oversees all aspects of web-related work. Kyle schedules interactive work with our Account Director, Amy Crawford, meets with clients, works with other team members to ensure deliverable due dates are met, makes decisions regarding projects’ direction, works with the design department concerning interactive items, and codes (a lot).
Like many of our Rockit team members, Kyle begins his day with a cup (or a few) of coffee. Luckily for Kyle, we take pride in our coffee consumption here at the agency and have built up quite a coffee-bar-quality selection. During caffeination, Kyle reads new emails and reviews his daily tasks. Kyle tries to avoid answering emails while coding (unless any are urgent) so that he does not lose his focus. Finally, Kyle discusses any foreseeable site issues and development trends with Jacob Carpenter, the second member of our (incredibly talented) two-person interactive team.
Regarding the extent to which stay-at-home orders have affected Kyle’s work, he says, “Typically, Jacob and I -- as interactive department members -- are constantly having conversations about how to best approach specific code challenges.” He explains, “We examine additional ways which may increase the CMS’s ease of use for a client, based on design and content organization. We also consider more effective ways to instigate interactions with site users to improve their experience.” The goal is to program the CMS system so that the client is capable of managing it. “Most importantly,” Kyle continues, “our interactive department at Rockit is attentive to developing features to function most efficiently. We are constantly evolving our methodologies and techniques for developing better websites. We do not follow the "cookie-cutter" method that most agencies apply; custom-built comes with trial and error. If a site is not developed optimally, pages may take too long to load, or result in errors across different browsers. It's a constant struggle, but the end result is gratifying.” While working from home, our developers were unable to have these important discussions in person, the way they were accustomed to. “At home, where I was not able to frequently confer with my team,” Kyle says, “it was more difficult to gauge whether we were producing our best work.”
Furthermore, not only was working from his kitchen table at home less than desirable, but the environmental upset was disadvantageous for Kyle. Having to suddenly adapt to working from home was an inconvenient disruption.
Despite his initial frustration with the change of space, there are a few things Kyle came to appreciate about working from home, such as working alongside his wife, Melinda, not having to battle Baton Rouge traffic to and from the office, and his ability to pour himself a glass of whiskey at whim. That being said, Kyle is currently working on stocking a full whiskey bar at the Rockit office -- a dream the whole team has come on board to help materialize. How Kyle remains inspired and current on industry trends was not much affected. “I still take on as much freelance as possible.” Kyle tells me, “Freelance is where I learn the most because I can make mistakes without affecting the agency’s reputation. Before using new builds and features at Rockit, I’ll test it out on a freelance project.”
All in all, transitioning from home back to the office was a welcomed change. “I work better in a team environment.” He says. Kyle does acknowledge that working from home had its perks, but the pros of working from home did not outweigh the cons. He also notes, “I’ve also learned that explaining how to do anything over Slack is not easy.” As someone trying to do the learning over Slack, I, myself, agree that it is excessively challenging. “The only obvious challenge of transitioning back to work,” Kyle says, “is adapting to the new social distancing protocols...wearing a mask feels weird.”
Kyle believes that the world will eventually get “back to normal.” He expects that the most significant, lasting change from this pandemic will be that people more frequently opt for video conference meetings in the future. Most employed persons are now familiar with one or more video conferencing applications. Kyle would prefer to be in the office, but he is aware of how dangerous this pandemic virus can be. “I honestly can’t wait for a vaccine.” Kyle adds, “Once everyone feels comfortable being in public, we can start making trips out for lunch again.”