By Cyrena Hillyard

We’ve all been impacted by this past year in many ways, big and small, and our job responsibilities have definitely felt that impact. Whether you’re at a non-profit, event production company, or anywhere really, the pandemic has changed how business is done and by whom. Like many organizations, staffing at our company was impacted by a sudden loss of income, and incredibly difficult decisions had to be made. I myself was furloughed for four months while the company managed with a very small team.

Now, things are getting better and we’re back producing events, even if they look a little different. As events have changed and staffing needs have shifted, we have all had to look at our roles and work in new ways. How can we be more productive and effective with a smaller team? How can we reach the same and new higher goals together? Change is always a little unnerving, and we’re still somewhat holding our breath a little, but it’s exciting and invigorating to manage.

For me specifically, this meant putting on many hats and taking on a few extra responsibilities along the way. As the Director of our Creative Services team, I’ve managed a creative team, both in this job and many before it, but I’ve never been the designer. I’ve now taken on that responsibility to the best of my abilities, based on some incredible groundwork left by our previous graphic designer. I’ve also leant my support to IT projects, built some email templates and hit send on an email campaign a few more times than I’d like (this is my least favorite thing to do; there’s no going back once that email starts going out to thousands of people.)

But with these extra activities, I’ve had to learn and re-learn a few things:

  • Teamwork is Paramount: When you’re in a larger organization and everyone has their core responsibilities, isolation can cut out a key voice or input. When you’re smaller and more voices contribute, you never know who will spark that creative idea or find a new way to think about something.
  • Sometimes Good Enough Really is Good Enough: When you have a lot of extra projects and tasks and you need to make sure you do the best you can on all of them in limited time, obsessing over that one white line break that doesn’t look exactly perfect isn’t going to help get one more registration. It’s time to move on.
  • Learning New Skills Doesn’t Have to be Traditional Learning. I’ve always been a do-it-myself type of learner, and while there is definitely value in proper training, being willing to dig in and find your way through a new tool can be very valuable when there’s a lot of new stuff to figure out. Online support can be useful as well as Google and YouTube.
  • Have a Back-Up plan! Train other members of your team to do things they may not be responsible for. When your team is small, there isn’t any built-in redundancy. But you will still need to take time off occasionally, sometimes without warning. So having someone else who can manage social media feeds, answer participant questions, edit your website or write a quick email is helpful. We all need breaks, especially when you’re covering many roles.
  • Document Things: Writing things down and building SOPs can take more time, but per the advice above, having a back-up plan is so much easier when the steps are documented and you can show someone else what to do. Your thorough notes can help someone else or even yourself when you’ve forgotten how to do that one easy step because you’ve already moved on to the 10 other harder ones.

If you’re in a similar place, hopefully you’re experiencing the excitement and fun of doing something new and not just feeling an overwhelming crush of work. It definitely can be revitalizing to work in new and different ways, stretching your mind and creativity. How are you working and growing in these challenging times as workloads continue to change?

Cyrena is the Director, Creative Services and has been with Event 360 for 16 years. Her current and past experience covers everything from brand management, program development, participant experience planning, and creative collateral. She oversees our creative team who provides copywriting, design, program management, website build and maintenance, and much more. On an event, you might see her bringing her obsessive detail-oriented skills to bear as a signage manager.

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