As a mother of two (Jack, 3 and Sam, 4 months old) and Director of Business Development, working from home during the pandemic has certainly been challenging. I am one of millions of women raising young children while also holding executive level roles at high growth companies. I am sure anyone in my situation can agree, working during the pandemic can get messy. That said, I am extremely fortunate to work for a company who is forward thinking and supportive of parents. I wrote this article to share a couple of the ways we are navigating the pandemic and how our company has become stronger because of it.
We’ve come a long way since the early weeks of March when the shift to work from home began. I distinctly remember looking at my calendar, chalked full of in-person meetings, thinking, Do I ask them to meet remotely instead? Will they perceive me as not being a dedicated partner? Will they think I am over-reacting?
Almost overnight, everything changed. Most people were home, Zoom meetings became the new normal and nearly every conversation kicked off with the same few questions. “Is your whole team at home now?” or “how are you adjusting?” Sentiments such as “I am so sorry if you hear my kids in the background” or “apologies for the dog barking.” quickly became commonplace
Every industry and every role has their own challenges as we navigate through Covid-19. Technology and Information Security professionals, in particular, are putting in extreme hours to ensure they are setting their company (or clients) up for WFH success. Ready or not, this is not a drill.
The Wall Street Journal recently published an article,“Cyber Chiefs Watch Their People for Burnout as Pandemic Rolls On”. The article acknowledges the cyber security professional’s reluctance to take vacations and the difficulty to find balance between their professional and personal lives.
“Avoiding burnout is the hardest part of work in the pandemic, said Omar Khawaja, the Chief Information Security Officer at Pittsburgh-based nonprofit health care company Highmark Health.” It is difficult to delineate between work life and home life, when it’s all under one roof. “With no commute, Mr. Khawaja said he lost the buffer between work and home life.”
Despite its challenges, many positives have emerged from WFH.. Personally, I love the way WFH s has humanized the business world. At the end of the day, we are all human beings and no matter who you are or what you do, we are in this together.
I remember one particular Zoom meeting I was speaking with a client when my 3 year old ran into my office and refused to leave. As I became beet red and apologetic, praying my husband would realize our son was crashing my call and come get him, she told me it was delightful to see my son and she misses her kids being that age. She insisted there was no need to apologize, we swapped stories and shared laughs. While I was completely flustered at the time, I am grateful we were able to have that connection which likely would not have happened in a stiff conference room.
In addition to connecting differently with customers, our team has found new ways to connect too. We start our day with a morning call. Admittedly, I initially thought a daily morning call could be overkill. I was wrong. I love having my first cup of coffee of the day with my team. We always start the call by going around and sharing “what’s good,” no work talk allowed. I’ve learned interesting things I never knew before, like Jimmy’s interest in tinkering with guitars and our interns, Ari and Madelyn, updates on what’s going on with school and what the year will look like for them.
On one of these morning calls, AJ, our CEO, shared with us his “wall of accountability” on which he has specific fitness milestones each day, including meeting his step goal. As our team chatted, we empathize with one another that the days are so busy, we are often glued to our desks all day and don’t move as much as we would like.
We decided this needed to change so we created a fun weekly step challenge, where each person on the team sets their own personal and private step goal and for each day they hit it, they are entered into an Amazon gift card drawing. We do a live drawing on Wednesday’s during our all-company weekly meeting, which is quite exciting!
When it’s safe to be together again, you’ll find the LockDown team gathered at a Benihana table with AJ flipping shrimp and lighting the onion volcano on fire.
Until then, be healthy and know that the team at LockDown is here for one another and is here for you too.