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New World Order - Working from home during COVID-19

by Arin Holecek

The Decision to Move

Zewski Corp. is located in Texas and I live in Colorado, so I was already working from home when COVID-19 hit, but as early news of shutdowns across the country rolled in, our owners decided to move all of the employees home to work remotely while they worked in the office, along with their three kids whose schools are shut down.  Since we work in medical devices our company is considered “essential”, and due to the work at home restructure, we are keeping things moving along as normal – in fact, our customers are seeing no change in how we meet their deadlines on internal activities.  I thought that nothing would change for me because I’ve been working from home all along, but things are not quite the same these days . . .

 

Adjusting

For one, my three school-aged children are now home indefinitely, and their excellent teachers are sending home reams of information on how to continue their studies.  We are on Spring Break right now, but next week reality is going to hit as I figure out how to work for Zewski (thankfully just half-time) and home school my kids at the same time.  I’ve been getting in the practice of setting my alarm for 5:30 in hopes of making it down to my desk by 6 or 6:30 (the commute is short, but the snooze button is ever-so-tempting.)  My hope is to get some hours in at work before the kids wake up, then be able to help them get started on their online studies after I have been up for a couple of hours.

Another difference is that my husband is now working from home too.  He seems to be doing well managing his employees remotely and fielding calls from upper management.  He has been a big help in making macaroni and cheese with hot dogs for the kids’ lunch and taking regular trampoline breaks with them to get them away from screens.

The Team Environment

For work, the team has been meeting twice a day through Microsoft Teams (so far, a very solid platform for communication) and it is fun to see everyone in their home environment in comfortable clothes.  I have to admit, it’s a strange feeling meeting with everyone while they are at home, because all of a sudden it feels like they are in my home!  When we met while they were at the office, there was definitely some separation because their work setting was clearly separate and professional.  This feels much more “cozy”.  Others report that it can be challenging to not have somewhere to go every day, and they find they have to force themselves to get up and go outside from time to time to see the sun.  In general, though, my coworkers seem to be settling in well, although one has a poor internet connection so for him, CAD work screen lag is a challenge.  Otherwise technically, thanks to the IT Team support (external), the VPN works well, and the server has been handling our data requests efficiently.

Probably the biggest challenge we’ve all had to face is how to shut out the headlines that stream in all day long about COVID-19.  It’s hard to focus on updating SOP’s when the news tells us the world is ending.  One exciting development is that a product we make with our largest client may be approved to help supplement the critically dwindling ventilator supply.  As a result, Owner, Larry Kiliszewski has been rapidly gathering test data in the lab, and my coworkers are working hard to prepare the supporting reports to supply to the FDA to help support the case for an EAU (Emergency Authorization Use.)

Looking Ahead

Even though this is a stressful time, the management team has been very supportive and inspirational, talking about how at the end of this our team will be that much stronger, and ultimately this may change the way we operate, for the better.  This attitude demonstrates just how much of a “growth mindset” they have, willing to take any challenge, adapt, and grow from it, which is exactly what you need in leadership, and this is how they’ve grown Zewski Corp. from the ground up into the successful product development company it is today. 

As for me, I’m setting limits on how much I check news and social media during “work” hours.  I’m much less distracted and stressed this way, and ultimately, I’m just grateful that both my husband and I have jobs during this challenging time, and that I get extra time with my kids that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

Here are some interesting articles on what the tail end of this pandemic could look like and dealing with stress in this unusual time. 

I hope you will find them interesting and helpful as we did.