When life returns to normal, I am beginning to wonder what the transition back to office life and reality will be like. A lot of good has come with my situation as a newly and rapidly adapting remote worker, husband, and father of 3 young children.
Business as Usual
One thing I can say is that our company hasn't missed a beat since we mobilized. As an MSP (Managed IT Service provider), we do a majority of our work remotely (even in normal times). Given our desire to protect our workers and community, we've restricted some of our mandatory on-site work to promote a culture of remote-first support.
A positive that I have found with this situation is that it has leveled the playing field for our internal culture. Any office-to-office cultural indifference has been all-but-eliminated for the time being because we are all working remotely.
Secondly, as a regional director: my meetings via phone and video conferencing were always a challenge for me to participate at the same level when connecting with a group of peers who were all in a conference room together. Now that we are all remote, everyone has the same opportunity and meetings seem to be much more productive for everyone.
Finally, we are fortunate to support verticals that have largely been economically untouched by the pandemic so far. Our client base has been able to mobilize and continue to work as usual with our assistance. We continue to be proactive with our clients in helping them move their businesses forward through uncertain and inconvenient times.
Being at home indefinitely as a remote worker has presented some opportunities as well. I am the father of a 4-year-old, whom I will refer to as my co-worker, and 8-month-old twins — all boys. Working from home has given me some added quality time with all of my boys — time that would have otherwise been missed. Extra smiles and giggles from the twins and getting to spend all day, every day, with my coworker (more about that in the challenges section.)
I’ve had the time to offer some quick assistance to my wife when I’m needed: Helping her move twins around the house for mealtimes, baths, naps, making bottles, etc. I now have a new appreciation for what my wife, who is a stay at home mom, has to do during the day and have a much better understanding of the occasional break downs she would frantically contact me about back when I was an office dweller.
At the same time, I will say my wife has gained a better appreciation of what I do all day as well. She can see how busy I am and that as a solutions consultant, I’m not just taking people to lunch all day.
There have been some challenges with distractions during the workday for sure. For instance, right now while writing this blog post, my co-worker is having challenges of his own — demanding for me to come to help him get Mario up to Yoshi as he jumps up and down on the couch. Not a video conference goes by without a tiny hand rising into view of the camera just before my headphones get yanked off my head.
I can’t forget leaving the room for a few minutes while myself and clients were taking a quick break from a video conference and my coworker taking an initiative to provide entertainment with his smooth dance moves for 15 minutes. Video conference interruptions, accompanied by my coworker’s high pitched, outside voice expressing discontent because my conference call is interrupting his new episode of Peppa Pig as the volume on the TV gets cranked to 30 Somehow, I have found that my level of production and focus through constant distraction has increased dramatically. If anything good comes out of the stay at home orders, it will be my newfound ability to focus through constant distraction.
I am an optimist and always see the glass half full. During the pandemic, my glass has been overflowing. I have been fortunate for an occupation within a company that was able to function at a high level, continues to serve clients well, and remains in a position of growth. I am thankful for the opportunity for personal growth in learning how to adapt to a different style of work while still operating at a high level through constant distraction. And finally, I am grateful for the opportunity for extended quality time with my family.
Steve has 20+ years helping organizations and executive teams navigate complex information technology challenges. He lives in Charleston, WV with his wife Jennifer and three children.