It has been a little over a month since the Kansas City metro area’s stay at home order was announced. But two weeks before, we here at NSPJ transitioned to mostly working from home to support employee and client health and well-being. While some of us began working from home right away, about five of us or so still work from the office.
So, what does work-from-home look like for NSPJ? What changes has it brought about for our firm and what does the future hold? Tim Homburg, Co-President / Principal Architect; Clint Evans, Co-President / Principal Architect; and Andrea Branson, Practice Administrator, provide some insight into office life since COVID-19 interrupted our typical routines.
Our Guiding Advice for Anyone Struggling with the Work-From-Home Lifestyle
“Get out of your PJs! No, seriously, your old morning routine was important for your state of mind as you headed out for the workday – try to stick to your old habits of getting ready in the morning and you’ll notice an increase in your mental clarity for the day.” – T. Homburg
“Your actual work hours may have to change to accommodate others’ needs in your home but keep to a set routine of hours and make sure to still “Log Off and Go Home” at a set time daily. You shouldn’t be on the clock 24/7 just because work is now your home.” – A. Branson
“Create a comfortable work environment other than the couch. Avoiding constant distractions on the home front is important to stay efficient when working from home.” – C. Evans
Early Planning and Constant Adaptation
“The rules have been constantly changing and in flux every week. We have tried to be flexible and adapt to the new developments to stay just as productive as before the stay at home order. Our team has really embraced new technology seemingly overnight to ensure communication on projects remains at the high standard we hold ourselves to, to get the job done.” – T. Homburg
“By having invested in infrastructure and system updates over the last few years, we were able to make the current necessity of working remotely a reality. NSPJ’s ability to stay a step ahead by transitioning into an almost completely remote workforce in just a couple of days, prior to the Stay at Home order, was impressive and allowed everyone to troubleshoot their home set-ups.” – A. Branson
“What continues to impress me, is our staff’s ability to adapt in a manner that still allows us to maintain the same level of efficiency as when we were working together in the office. The new avenues that we’re utilizing to quickly communicate with each other … we can screen share in real-time and point at items being discussed just like when we were face to face.” – C. Evans
Long Distance Co-Workers
“Whether it is looking over someone’s shoulder at the project renderings or drawing on their desk, or just spontaneous conversations that happen throughout the day, these are the things that virtual communication cannot replace.” – C. Evans
“As everyone I am used to seeing in the office has transitioned to working from home, I find myself picking up the phone more and more to have verbal conversations rather than sending a quick e-mail or instant message.” – T. Homburg
“Some of my best ideas have come from completely unrelated, non-work topics – when your mind is still working in the background. My favorite virtual meeting is every Friday, after five. This optional video conference with co-workers hanging out and sharing their home offices, their pets and sometimes family members is a chance for those needing a little more socialization to hear other views on how we’re all staying at home to help out our communities and healthcare providers.” – A. Branson
The Keys to Working at Home for NSPJ
As close to walking over to someone’s desk and talking to them as we can currently get, Microsoft Teams has turned into our go-to resource for instant and direct communication. Daily commutes are reduced to a quick walk through the house instead of the 15- to 45-minute drives each way, providing staff with more personal time. Our new weekly Monday morning All Staff meetings, now provide the chance for staff to see each other and ask questions before we start the new week ahead.
“Our client base and project focus are resilient to economic changes. People still need housing, even during a recession, and especially now that people are spending so much time in their homes, they are more motivated than ever. The real silver lining is that because of the nature of our work, we were able to transition 90% of our workforce to work remotely and did not have any drop off in productivity from our team. It just re-affirmed to me that we are tougher than any issues we face.
What I have learned over time is that recessions are a part of life, this is not the first one we have seen as a firm and it will not be the last one. The key to making it through is to work harder during these times to ensure you make it through and come out better than before – putting in the extra effort now pays off in the future.” – T. Homburg
We are seeing an increase in requests for home remodeling. With time at home, potential new clients are looking at things they would like to improve or change. While some projects have been delayed, we have continued to pursue new projects and seen some old projects restart. We are hopeful that the early precautions we took will allow us all to be together again soon!