By Jennifer Meek, Director of Marketing for Charlotte Products Ltd.
For most of us, everything has changed. Whether we are working in a fully remote environment, halting all travel or protecting public health in a global pandemic, it is safe to say that nothing is quite the same as it was in 2019. We were thrilled to welcome our Associate Marketing Manager Laura van Driel back to work last month after her year-long maternity leave. Because of the timing of her mat leave, Laura is a bit like a living time capsule who was thrust back into a totally new work environment at Charlotte Products. Read my interview with Laura below to learn about what’s changed, what’s better now, and what we all miss the most!
First, can you tell us about your role at Charlotte?
It’s funny because my role alone has changed so much because of the pandemic. Prior to going on mat leave, my title was associate marketing manager, but since I’ve come back I am doing a lot less managing. I’ve been working almost entirely on labels to keep up with demand for our products as the supply chain has totally changed with the need to ship our cleaning products to our clients more frequently than ever before. I also work on our social media, email blasts, blogs, and collateral for special programs like our Polished Terrazzo and Concrete floor care program.
What are the major things that have changed in the past year?
Well, besides the obvious, that now everything we do here at Charlotte in terms of protecting public health matters that much more and our products are more in demand, the actual job I have has changed quite a bit. I am working completely from home, like the rest of our marketing and sales teams. So there are a lot more Google Meets and phone calls, but no commuting!
How do you like working remotely?
I have some experience working from home in previous positions as a graphic designer, but it’s new now with everyone working remotely, including my husband who shares the office with me! In marketing, we have a creative job and we’re used to being together all the time, in each other’s offices, working through solutions. Now we have to be intentional about making time for calls.
What are some of the advantages you see in the new way of doing things?
The label changes alone are so much more efficient. Before, we would use hard copies of these labels, and I would be taking these giant 11 x 17 papers to each person’s desk to get their approvals on the changes. Now it’s all done electronically, in a pdf. No more losing a paper and searching for it in piles on my colleagues’ desks! I track all projects in an online task manager that has been so easy to collaborate through. Tracking approvals and changes to labels electronically is something we were working towards for efficiency and sustainability improvements and will definitely keep doing after our office goes back to normal.
What are some of the things you miss most about the old way of working?
I miss seeing my co-workers face to face, seeing them in the lunchroom and things like that. I also enjoyed being able to work closely with the lab team to see the new products evolve and provide input on fragrance, colors, efficacy, etc. It is really interesting to be part of the innovative process and it taught me so much about the products, which definitely helped when promoting them. Engaging with the customer service team regularly was helpful as well to ensure we had a clear understanding of the customers’ challenges and needs. I now work with these teams virtually to transfer knowledge and input, which is most important.
We are all so happy to have Laura back with us after her leave, and while we aren’t quite able to see her smiling face in the office, we hope that the year ahead will bring us all back into the office in a safe way. Until then, we’ll stick with our virtual meetings and lots and lots of phone calls!