I hate to speak too soon, but we may just make it. As was expected, based on our previous entry on the topic, the first week of the work from home experiment had its challenges, but for the most part, it was not the things that I had worried about. Of course.
Day one we basically crashed the server. Even though we have good equipment, our VPN was only set up for a few folks traveling and a couple of satellite offices. Apparently, everyone in the company hitting the server remotely at one time is a bad thing. However, our IT consultant (shout out to Traxler Consulting) was all over it and that crisis did not survive the day. We were starting to feel pretty cocky about our battle skills at this point.
Day two found us preparing for an impending shelter in place order for every county we work in. Amid that impending doom, we tried to crash the “GoTo” meeting site. I am still not sure if it was us or them but that crisis has passed as well. By Thursday we had video on most folks (all looking really “casual”) and my wife even learned to turn her microphone on. No more signing in the webcam.
Day three was the first day of the shelter in place order. We have been identified as an essential business so our operations were business as usual (to the extent that is possible). However, it is hard to follow social distancing rules on job sites and the safety equipment that we want (for proximity work) will not be available until July. Trying to upgrade our crews PPE in creative ways occupied most of my time…and took my mind off all of those work from home people.
By day four I was used to the quiet corporate office and my two office mates, that’s right count ‘em, two office mates. Yep. About 11,000 square feet and three people (four if you count the homeless guy on our porch that thinks we closed up shop). The company culture is alive and well among us; it has become a boy’s club of sorts we will probably need serious HR training before the others come back. The culture is still well among the work from home crew also. We had a web meeting where there was joking, laughing (not at the jokes) and webcam visuals we are trying to forget. Everyone was normal; well normal for us.
Today is day five and things are too good to have any complaints. After all, we have jobs and I don’t think anyone will ever take that for granted again. Some of our folks have stepped up and I am sensing that others may be feeling like fish out of water. Regardless of comfort level, I am impressed that even under adverse circumstances our teams continue to provide services that have real value to our clients; good effort and good character.
I am still not ready to adopt the work from home experiment as SOP, but our companies operate from a storm zone and offer emergency response services for all building-related failures across the country. As such, this work from home experiment is a good opportunity for us to tune up our processes in an atmosphere where everything is not physically damaged (i.e. an atmosphere where our field operations are not overwhelmed). Unfortunately, it would appear that the recovery time for this virus-initiated disaster is going to resemble those associated with natural disasters. As such, I hope that someone can find a way to protect the “non-essential” workforce so they can return to duty sooner than later. We need a real, old school hero.
So, until that time, in the midst of “flattening curves” and yet to be determined “peaks”, we will continue our responsible forward progress with cautious optimism.
Hang in there folks, the first chapter of the new playbook has some ink, but this story is far from over.
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