Over the last several months, millions of Americans have been forced to adapt to many changes. For many, working from home has been among those changes. With this shift happening overnight, some were faced with the sudden need to stay productive for work and balance the responsibility of educating children. Parents have found themselves tucking into random spaces. Closets, spare rooms, garages, and even the backs of cars, all help employees find a quiet, peaceful environment. Many have also embraced their ingenuity. There are desks made of buffet tables, vanities, and laughably, the plethora of Amazon boxes accumulated during quarantine.
While quick thinking and imagination helped with the transition, few were prepared for the toll that working from home, often in isolation, would take on employees. After almost a year of this drastic shift in our workforce, OEC asked how so many employees work from home without going crazy? Here is what we discovered.
Before coming to OEC, our new digital marketing manager, Nicole Horton, was working from home for eight months. She worked in a small, spare bedroom with her husband to be close to the internet. Talk about going crazy! However, what Nicole and her husband did was unique. They started a weight loss competition with friends to see who could get the most steps. Weight loss and steps earned points and whoever got the most points won. The contest encouraged them to spend time outside during breaks and after work.
Looking to add variety to their walks, they eventually explored the entire Boise greenbelt.
“Normally we would be traveling whenever possible. So being stuck in the state forced us to become tourists in our own city. Discovering the greenbelt one 3-mile section at a time was exciting. It made us deeply appreciate where we live so much more.”
Spending so much time outside not only helped their mental state but was also kind to their waistline. Additionally, the competition helped them feel connected to their friends despite being hundreds of miles apart.
Similarly, OEC’s workplace consultant of over four years, Michelle Giudice, also turned to exercise. When Michelle was sent home in March, she and her husband had to balance work and raising their two-year-old daughter. Not wanting to send her back to daycare with so much uncertainty, they quickly adjusted to this new dynamic. With only one height adjustable desk upstairs, the couple had to debate who had the more important work that day. Whoever won would work at the desk while the other got the kitchen table and baby duty.
Needless to say, getting outside for an hour each day was a welcome change. During the two hours her daughter was napping, Michelle would step out of her house and onto the greenbelt. For the next 55 minutes she would run a total of five miles. When she returned, her husband would trade places and run as well. The time outdoors and away from work did wonders to keep her sane. In other moments, Michelle would take her two large dogs outside for some exercise.
“I needed to get air. Being here [in the office] is nice because you can get up and talk to friends and mess around a little bit. But when you’re stuck at home, working on Teams, it’s so different. So, I needed to get outside, and that’s when I picked up running.”
Mark Heazle from Lombard Conrad had a different approach. When he sent his employees home, Mark and his partners found that the most significant thing they could do was simply to check in with them.
“I feel like we have all lost our minds at some point during this year. Being locked inside with kids while you are trying to teach them and work is not the easiest thing.”
That is why their team made a quick decision to implement programs like Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Teams. These programs allowed them to talk to and collaborate with their employees. In this way, they could shift and react to the changing environment while maintaining a meaningful connection with everyone in their firm.
Through this change, Lombard Conrad discovered how easy it was to trust their staff.
“What this has shown us is we don’t need to keep our finger on the pulse of where everyone is in the office. They are self-motivated, and it is incredibly impressive how professional everyone is.”
The same is true at OEC. Our employees understand that life goes on and jobs need to get done. They step up to the challenge every day. All they need is a continued connection to their team to help them stay motivated.
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