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Genius Brands Shares At-Home Productivity Tips

Jon Ollwerther, EVP, global brand and business development, Genius Brands shares his company’s work-from-home secrets, as well as tips for staying productive overall.

Like many companies during the COVID-19 pandemic, Genius Brands has shifted from an almost fully office-based culture to an entirely remote work-from-home workforce.

I give our team a lot of credit because our culture is very entrepreneurial,” says Jon Ollwerther, external vice president, global brand and business development, Genius Brands International. “We have an outsourced IT provider; we don’t have a culture of assistants; we have a roll-up-your-sleeves mentality that served us well in the face of a rapid shift from office to home work.”

The majority of the team works from laptops and extra monitors. Each employee was in charge of their own needs, and for bigger tasks or bigger setups, like an editing suite, team members helped each other get set up. 

“We also staggered how we packed and exited over the course of three days,” says Ollwerther. “Folks with families and kids who were home from school already were earlier. This meant that we had relatively little disruption to workflow.”

The company has instituted a daily kickoff call for each team to set the tone for the day and to provide a good jumping off point. The team measures up on deliverables and what is being worked on that day, and the team offers support to anyone that needs it. The team uses Microsoft Teams to accomplish this, and it holds weekly full team calls as well. Along with this, there are regular email updates.

“This is a pretty good replacement for the culture that we had on the way to and from the coffee machine,” says Ollwerther. “That said, these calls are much more rigidly scheduled and attended. Feedback so far, and my experience so far, has been positive on this ritual.”

As for overall productivity, Ollwerther believes certain personal changes can be made to stay on track. Eat well, and drink lots of water to begin, ensuring your energy is up, and you’re ready to work. For the actual work day, do your morning routine as if you were going to work. Shower, shave, makeup, coffee – whatever gets you up in the morning. Finally, when actually working, limit your distractions. Work in a room away from things that could distract you, and stay focused on the task at hand.

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