July 17, 2020

Family history on a rural ranch earns home office honors for Jones

Natalie Jones ranch

A space filled to the brim with family history has earned Husker Home Office of the Week honors for Natalie Jones.

A media specialist in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Jones is living in the Sandhills on the land that has been in her family for 120 years.

“I am constantly reminded of my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents’ work ethic and resilience in ranching through droughts, blizzards, tornadoes, market crashes, etc,” she said. “I am at home in the Sandhills, surrounded by my family, and all of the things I love.”

The Husker Home Office of the Week award was launched April 10 to showcase how faculty and staff have adjusted to working from home as part of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s response to COVID-19.

The award repeats weekly until employees return to campus. Details on how to enter are below.

Read on for Jones’ takes on how working from home is progressing and a few tips for other faculty and staff to consider.

Why does this space work for you?

This is the same yard of the original ranch house of Diamond Bar Ranch, which has been family owned and operated since May 14, 1901. For the past 120 years, my family has spent their lives working and making a living here on this land. I am proud to be the fifth generation to live and work on the ranch. My family inspires me to strive to do my best work all the time and work towards my greatest potential in life. Hearing the occasional whinny of horses in the meadow, cattle lowing, the call of a curlew, the South Loup River flowing by and cottonwoods in the wind is natural to me.

What tips for a successful work-from-home day do you have for fellow employees?

Make your work fun. Stay positive, stay energized and create habits that propel you to success. I keep copious lists of daily tasks, communication ideas and strategy, goals, etc. It is satisfying to cross things off daily/weekly/monthly and track my progress. My best advice would be to know yourself and your work habits and plan your day around your strengths, if possible. I feel that I do my best work in the morning, so I plan bigger tasks during that time and smaller things in the afternoon. During college, I had a remote writing internship with the Certified Angus Beef Brand in Wooster, Ohio. These self-starter skills came in handy once I began working remotely in my current position. Set small, attainable goals and be disciplined. Is has been difficult to find a balance between work life and home life when they are so interconnected. During this time, I have enjoyed living in rural Nebraska. It feels as though it has been the best of both worlds for me: living a peaceful country life and doing my best to keep up with a fast-paced social media, communications world at the same time.

What do you miss most about your campus space?

I began my role on Jan 1, and I had only a few months in my new office on East Campus in Ag Hall before moving to remote work. I miss the relationships I had begun to build with my new coworkers in Vice-Chancellor Boehm’s office. Ag Hall has a very genuine and friendly atmosphere. Every person you saw in the hallway always had a smile and I always felt like I was part of an amazing, collaborative, hardworking team.

What is something you’ve learned working from home that you hope to integrate when you return to campus?

I’ve come to realize that you can make an enormous impact from anywhere. Your location does not limit your productivity, joy or goals. Technology allows us to be connected virtually. This experience had made me much more grateful for in-person interactions and relationships with friends, family and coworkers.

To be considered for the honor, submit photos of your custom space via email to tfedderson@unl.edu along with answers to the the questions below. The award winner will be notified on each Thursday, with their space appearing in the Friday edition of Nebraska Today. For more information, send email to tfedderson@unl.edu.

Entries for the “Husker Home Office of the Week” must include your name, university position, home department, phone number (for contact, if necessary), years employed on campus, home address (to mail the award), and answers to at least three of these five questions:

- Why does this space work for you?

- What tips for a successful work-from-home day do you have for fellow employees?

- What is your favorite item in the home office space?

- What do you miss most about your campus space?

- Is there any process/concept/idea that you’ve experienced working from home that you hope to integrate when we return to campus?