Kids screaming, dogs barking, doors slamming… During the last year and change, these were the sounds of the new office. The one that many had to adjust to. Turning the second half of the dining room into an office was not part of anyone’s plan, but it soon became reality to many.
The transition wasn’t ideal, especially where I work, in the client service industry, where we communicate one-on-one daily. So, how did we all remain positive? How did we stay professional? How did we adjust?
To say it was challenging at times is a complete understatement. The adjustment, for most, was not easy and it had to happen quickly. As individuals, we in our daily routines and then to have that turned around in a short period of time? New standards, new rules, new procedures—not just for the office, but at home as well. With my whole team being pulled out of our work environment, where we could collaborate with each other every day, I remember asking myself, “How is this going to work?”
It’s all part of the plan
So how did it work? For me, it was about the image and how I wanted to maintain that image for my CUSO and clients. I did not want the clients that I worked with daily to know that anything was different. I wanted them to be confident in my ability to still be able to assist them when needed and I needed to be confident in that as well. I needed a plan!
To work effectively and communicate with our clients—in a way that they were used to—I had to create a professional environment in my home. My home, where my children scream and cry, where my dogs bark, where Amazon deliveries were made weekly… it seemed impossible. But I found a way to make that happen, as I’m sure many of you did!
No one likes change, but I knew that if I was going to continue to be satisfied with my role in my place of employment, I had to accept it. I had to accept the fact that working from home could become a new normal. I had to accept that certain changes needed to be made to be successful at what I did daily. But it wasn’t always easy.
During that first week at home, anything that could have happened, happened. Training sessions were in full swing and so were the barking dogs. Sometimes, while on a call with a client, my daughter would come into the room asking me to play games with her.
Both situations were difficult to manage—especially with my children, as I was present to them but not always available for them—but eventually, they learned (most of the time) that when I was working and I couldn’t entertain them. I also knew I wasn’t the only working mother who had to transition to this new atmosphere, and I certainly wasn’t the only one with barking dogs. Almost everyone had some form of distraction in their home. It just became a conversation piece added for that one-on-one experience with clients.
Technical issues could and did strike at any time. And unlike the office, I didn’t have people all around me to help right away. Working with clients, it was always best for me to set myself up for success and gather contact information right from the start. I always asked, “What would be the best number to reach you at if I lose this call?” In the event that we hit a technical speedbump, I was good to go and return that call, promptly.
Positivity played another large role in the plan. I would like to consider myself as a “glass half full” kind of individual, but with this big of an adjustment? Even I was nervous and doubting. However, once I accepted the situation and started working to find solutions and ways to improve, the positivity started to flow as well. Always keeping the mentality in the back of my head that the clients need us and for me personally, I needed them. The fact that I had the opportunity to connect daily to the clients I was familiar with and make this adjustment seem somewhat normal was incredibly reassuring and positive for me.
After accepting the adjustment and remaining positive, it started to give me a whole new prospective; a new look at home, a new look when working with my clients, and a new look at life in general. I was not alone in this process either; so many were sitting right where I was. How many times do we take advantage of what we do daily, and then one day all of that changes? We are simply told that it needs to change, and it needs to change quickly. I was able to accept the change, I was able to remain positive and most importantly, I was able to adjust in a way that my company needed all of us to: to assist our clients in the most professional way.
What’s normal anymore?
Over a year later, some are still at home and some are back in their offices and will need to begin their adjustment period all over again. Some learned to love the convenience of work from home while others were happy to get back to their old routines. As we continue to conquer and overcome this period in our lives, I can say that I am thankful for it. I am thankful for the challenge it set for me, I am thankful for the lessons learned throughout the process and I am most thankful for the image I was able to maintain, not only for my place of employment, but for myself as well.