Working from Home: The New Norm

If you were told that 2020 would begin with a global pandemic altering the reality of every human being, would you believe it?

Without warning COVID-19 forced businesses across the globe to come to a standstill. Resulting in approximately 42% of the workforce operating from home and the remainder scurrying to construct a “new norm” for their personnel.

In the history of the company, this is the first time that the majority of Gary Platt employees have worked from home. Most employees have found the silver lining in this detrimental global pandemic through the flexibility of working from home, which has allowed them to balance their work and home lives better.

An anonymous employee stated, “I’ve found it to be the best of both worlds. I can be productive and proactive with my position at Gary Platt as well as balance my home/personal life.”

Many employees reported lessened distractions with office staff and getting pulled away from their desks, providing a heightened ability to refocus and concentrate easier. With no commute time and the convenience of waking up and being able to work without going anywhere, many have found their new environment to be relaxing and peaceful. The opportunity to safely work from home during a time like this has also found Gary Platt employees having a higher appreciation for the company overall.

An employee surveyed commented, “I appreciate the fact they understand individuals have their own circumstances, feeling and opinions about the epidemic. I’m grateful that they are open-minded to the idea that some employees are self-motivated and should not be required to have a set schedule at the facility. Often working from home, even if only part of the day, can provide more value to Gary Platt.”

The majority of staff reported feeling more productive and creative thanks to their decreased stress levels. Those working at home also had some new coworkers and new challenges that they had not faced before in the office. Nose nudges from dogs wanting another pet to cats walking across the keyboard during a Zoom meeting are just some of the challenges that employees faced with their household pets. Children, spouses and roommates were also mentioned to be distractions at times, but the ability to refocus easier was a common theme among most employees. One employee mentioned, “Cats are walking on the keyboard and laying on my papers and the dogs are constantly wanting in and out.” Another employee mentioned the same distraction, but also the joy that coincided with that. “My cats really enjoy being in my space! From 7:30am-1pm they’re usually all over my desk area or running around the house using my workspace as an obstacle course. I enjoy them having fun; it brings joy to my heart and laughter to my body.”

Work from home set ups were also sometimes unconventional and different from what employees were used to in the Gary Platt office. Some were working from the kitchen table, others on the living room sofa. But no matter where their set up was, they were getting the job done! Increased efficiency and decreased stress are positive outcomes that the majority of Gary Platt employees would like to be the “new norm.” Over half of the employees surveyed responded that they like the idea of a more flexible work schedule and the ability to work from home. But issues that may hinder this from becoming an indefinite outcome include: technology issues, lacking equipment, insufficient programs, not having access to a printer, and connectivity/WiFi issues.

One employee stated, “I could be working on transferring product from one bin to another and receive a phone call from a fellow employee and the system will kick me out completely. I would need to retrace where I left off and log back in and continue.”

While there are new challenges that Gary Platt employees have had to face since the stay at home order was initiated, there are a lot of positives that outweigh those challenges. Many employees reported being active during their breaks and noted that the increased flexibility in work hours has allowed for more time to exercise and get active. Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, leaving the body with a boosted mood and a clear mind. Having relaxed, focused, and happy staff is important to the success of the company. Increased down time in normal job functions due to the stay at home order have also given employees the time to work on projects that had previously been put on the back burner.

“We are given an opportunity to correct things, like marketing accuracy, processes, looking to the future, that under normal circumstances, we would not have time for due to the pace of the normal day at work. We need to take advantage of this time to look at how we can be more successful with communications, product support, product training, presenting new products, finding new ways to sell our products to the designers and customers, and support the people in the field with product literature, when we can all get back to a normal schedule,” an employee responded.

Even while working remotely and not being able to have the normal office interactions that employees are used to, they have been finding ways to connect with their coworkers and feel some sense of normalcy. Group chats, Microsoft Teams meetings, and fun questions to get some conversation going are some of the things Gary Platt has been doing to connect their office and continue building coworker relationships. We will get through this together!