Running a business in the midst of COVID-19 has been challenging for many people across the country. Many businesses have suspended all of their operations for a variety of reasons. For many others, their employees are now working from home in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. In a matter of just a couple of weeks, companies that were not used to having employees work from home implemented new procedures, purchased new equipment, and learned how to work remotely. Under normal circumstances, those changes may have taken years, which is quite remarkable to think about. It’s also interesting to speculate on what changes will be implemented long-term because of COVID-19 – not just related to working from home, but also because people are learning new ways to interact with family and friends. Virtual happy hours might be the defining characteristic of our generation!
If you’ve been keeping up with our news, you probably already know that we have been working from home for a few weeks now. We miss seeing our clients, business connections, and family members in-person, but we want to stay connected with all of you as best as we can. We thought you might be interested to read about and see what our new lives are like – not just as Flagstone employees, but also as fathers, mothers, pet owners, spouses, caretakers, and all of the other roles we play. Read on for personal perspectives from each employee.
Working in the new reality of the Coronavirus has been an adjustment, but we are very fortunate to be in the business we are in where we can still work and do so remotely. At Flagstone we were fairly tech forward heading into the pandemic and added a key technology that now makes our “at home” set ups very functional. We have expanded our knowledge and use of virtual meeting technology which in some cases works better for everyone. It is not to say it has all been perfect and we will take some lessons from this experience, much like we try to do in every experience, and make Flagstone better.
The part I miss the most is the human interaction with our clients, our team and those we would see during lunches, coffee, community functions, etc. I am an extrovert, so I get energy out of those interactions and look forward to getting back to interacting with people on a regular basis. What I have missed with the lack of interactions with people outside of my household, I have gained by increased interactions with my family. We have taken more walks as a family, had more meals at the dinner table and my wife Jill and I taught our kids how to play 10 point pitch and now they are loving it and we are playing at least 1 game of pitch a night (and sometimes more). As we walk and hang out together outside, we are also meeting many of our neighbors and their pets (with appropriate social distancing) which has been fun. I wish all the increased outside activity was offsetting the calories I’m consuming in having all day access to our pantry at home!
As I watch what is happening in the world these days, I feel grateful for my health and the health of those around me. I am in awe of the people on the front lines and wonder how they continue to do what they do, day after day. And I am very thankful that I am able to continue to do my work from home. I’ve also now realized that the technology and systems our team has worked to put in place over the last few years made this transition go pretty smoothly and yet gave us a better understanding of how we can continue to improve.
During the last few weeks, I’ve been checking in on our clients to see how they are doing and learn how their lives have been impacted during this crisis. It’s a relief when I hear back that they are doing ok – especially because many of them now feel almost like family after working with them for so many years. I do enjoy being at home so making myself stay at home hasn’t really been too hard for me. I do miss seeing my coworkers face to face and sharing laughs with them throughout the day. My husband and kids are great but they don’t seem to think I’m nearly as funny as Brenda, Bev and Amy do. Laughter is what keeps me going!
Bev is taking this opportunity to stay at home with her husband, Brad, and focus on staying healthy. They’re at higher risk than the general public, so they are hunkered down for the time being. Bev periodically checks in with the office to help with a couple of things, but is prioritizing safety for her and Brad. We’re all looking forward to when we can be regularly working with her again!
My work-from-home transition has been smooth. Two of our kids are at the age to need some assistance with their school lessons, so my husband and I have worked out a schedule where each of us maintains our work hours while the kids work independently. We then have some teaching time, as well. My husband is a teacher by profession, so the kids are one-on-one with a bona fide professional. Whew! I’m greatly enjoying our family time and the fact that life at fast-speed has been reigned in. We’re spending good time as a family, which I love.
Really, my schedule hasn’t changed much. My office space is efficient and I’m able to focus on my work. The thing I miss most is being in close proximity to my colleagues and, you, our clients. We are in frequent communication as a team, even “hi, how’s your day going?” virtual calls, which are really helpful in maintaining normalcy during this abnormal time. It’s also wonderful to see some of you during our virtual meeting reviews. We like to hear from you and care about how you’re doing during this time.
I’m grateful for those whose lives are NOT quieted, but who are diligently working to slow the spread of disease, putting themselves “out there” by caring for those who are sick, and seeking to find solutions by leading well. I recognize that life looks different for many people right now and there is great upheaval and loss in many people’s lives.
It is apparent to me that the stronger a business/organization/government is, the easier it is to absorb these changes that have happened at Mach speed. Although not in each other’s presence, we’re a strong team, community and nation. We ARE in this together, and I hope the best for you.
I’ve been so moved by the stories of compassion and selflessness I’ve seen and heard over the past few weeks. My heart goes out to all of those that have lost so much. I’m amazed at all of the people that are striving to do whatever they can to make this situation better for others. I am especially thankful for all of the doctors, nurses, and essential workers on the front line that are working so hard to save lives and provide us with the goods and services we need. Each day I wake up with a renewed sense of gratefulness. I realize how very blessed I am to have my health, my family, my job, and to be able to continue to work for and with such amazing people!
I have been very fortunate to be able to keep some of my normal routine, and I find that comforting. I am able to work from home but I also drop by the office to check the mail and get a few things done. My new at-home co-workers get a little loud barking at all of the people walking by, and don’t appreciate me working when I should be playing with them or letting them out every 5 minutes. When I am in the office, I do really miss our team and seeing our clients! We have some great technology that keeps us connected and working together, but nothing can truly replace the collaboration and fun our environment fosters. I’ve found there are a few perks to not having everyone around though: I always get to pick the radio station; I can eat all the peanut M&Ms I want (sorry Stephanie & Amy); I’ve got access to a nice supply of good beer in the fridge (thank you Michael). When I’m not working, I’ve become quite the expert in online grocery shopping and have been making regular trips to drop supplies off to my parents. As homebodies, our social life hasn’t changed all that much. We continue to take the dogs to local lakes for exercise and have seen quite an increase in people with the same idea. This has inspired us to search out new, unexplored locations and we are enjoying it.
The past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. It seems the pandemic is affecting so many aspects of everyone’s lives, and it’s hard to escape the amount of news that is constantly thrown at me. It’s easy to focus on all that’s wrong with our circumstances right now, but there is a lot that I have to be thankful for, and a lot of joy that I can choose to experience every day. I’m thankful for a job that allows me to work from home with relatively little disruption. I’m thankful for my health, my wife’s health, and my daughter’s health. I’m thankful for a safe home, local leaders who care about our safety, and beautiful weather so we can enjoy the outdoors! I’m also thankful for the opportunity to help people during a very stressful time in their lives. Regardless of our circumstances, we can choose joy!
Since we began working from home in mid-March, the day-to-day routine for my wife and me hasn’t changed a ton, other than location. We’re both working in our home offices, and we both have some other obligations during the evenings (taking place over Zoom or Google Hangouts). We are taking walks before and after our normal work hours, which has been refreshing. We are eating way more take-out than normal in order to support struggling restaurants, and I’m even smoking some meat during the day. It requires little monitoring, and wasn’t possible prior to our work-from-home arrangement! The other big change is that we spend way more time with our cats. Some days I forget they’re here, because they’re napping all day. Other days, they won’t stop walking across my desk trying to get face rubs.