The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unusual and uncertain times. These past two weeks I witnessed a terrific team transform from a three-office organization of 175 employee-owners to a 100% work-from-home operation. The planning, coordination, communication and collaboration needed to pull of this rapid re-tooling of a company while simultaneously serving our client’s business needs daily was nothing short of heroic. Our values (Respect, Initiative, Courage, Honesty, Integrity & Responsibility) were on full display throughout the week and provided the tools for our employee-owners to respond under the circumstances. Their resiliency under pressure has been nothing short of remarkable in my eyes.
At Andesa, we learn from each other. It is a collective understanding that emerges as we handle new opportunities and situations. We carry the lessons we learn with us on our journey. In that spirit, I reached out to several Andesa staff who permanently work from home. I asked them to share some tips and advice with their fellow employee-owners to help navigate and adjust to a new (hopefully temporary) normal. Allow me to share their counsel to their Andesa teammates with you.
Something I have found in working from home and not very many people said was be careful to not become inactive. I started working from home when it was starting to get cool outside and found myself going from seat in home office, to couch, to bed. After a few months I found myself getting sore and achy doing small things and thought I haven’t moved that’s why. When I worked out of the office I would walk 30 mins a day at least, golfed 2 times a week. Between winter and not having to go outside that took a toll on me. So, my advice is develop a routine where you take walks outside (I believe we can still do that) or walk around the house/apartment and just move. It helps a lot!
– Courtney (Ohio) OnBase Developer
Establish a Routine
The one thing that has helped me while working from home is ‘routine’. I try to maintain the same routine (i.e. shower, dress, eat breakfast and go to the home office). This helps to put me in a work mode. Having a separate, quiet area to work is also essential. You must be self-disciplined to avoid distractions that will take you away from your work…. It’s easy to stray. Not much, but this works for me!
– Jan (Pa) Business Operations Specialist
Solitude works for me. No pets, (geckos don’t count). I keep the office door shut. The television is just audible, mindless, background noise – i.e. HGTV, FoodTV, Weather Channel – nothing that draws attention. I do not do social media so a non-issue for me.
– Don (Orlando, FL) Release Engineer
Respect the line between work and life
There are 3 things I try to stick to:
Get dressed! It is definitely ok to “take advantage” of a few comfy days, but I find I am in a better frame of mind when I get dressed for work.
Make a schedule – and try to stick with it. In the office we would naturally have breaks – people stopping in, getting up for coffee and having a quick chat in the hall. Make sure to try to include those in your schedule. Use jabber and calls and video calls – the break – and the connections – are important!
Try to have an “end” time. The lines between “life” and “work” overlap pretty quickly when they’re happening in the same space – and we may think we’re using our otherwise commute time. I’m terrible at this point.
Two strategies I’m trying now:
I’ve set a stop time that I’ve agreed to with my family, it is a time we are all stopping this week during the “everyone home” scenario. We have agreed to cook and enjoy dinner together at a set time.
I’ve started using Microsoft Analytics to see in data points when I’m not respecting my personal time, how quickly I’m responding to emails, and who I’m interacting with the most. Awareness is a great starting point.
– Jacque (Florida) General Counsel
It was a bit tough for me to transition to remote work at first, but I have found the following very helpful to keep myself focused:
- Treat remote work like regular work. Get dressed like you’re going to the office. Separate your working area from the rest of your home as best as you can. Make expectations clear to your family that you will not be available during your working hours except for your break times—and they should know when those are.
- Create a morning routine and stick to it. This can be a mix of work-specific tasks you have to do every day, as well as other healthy morning routine items (journaling, meditation, exercise). The longer you keep this up, the better you will get at ‘booting yourself up’ for work.
- Communication is key, especially remotely. Schedule time for calls on issues where you would normally just walk over to someone’s desk. Use Jabber and email to keep up with what’s going on. Get comfortable with our screenshare and conference call solutions. Creating groups on Jabber for a team to chat is another great way to keep up with what’s happening in the moment.
- The worst thing you can do with a home office is put it in the basement, the laundry room, or next to the water heater. Use natural light as much as possible and set up somewhere that has window access so you can get some fresh air. You should also invest in making the space look and feel perfect for you, so that you want to be there!
– Dillon (Colorado) Application Support Analyst
Some terrific counsel herein. My colleagues advice has already influenced me as I learn to lead from a distance.
I am certain it will help your fellow-teammates in their daily activities. Our purpose as an organization is to help our employee-owners and clients reach their full potential (even when and perhaps especially during social distancing). Thank you Courtney, Jan, Don, Jacque and Dillon, ….. for sharing your thoughts and living the Andesa Forever vision!!
To my friends, clients and regular blog readers, I wish you health, safety and peace during these unprecedented times.