June 2, 2020
The latest DLE 10-Second Poll question probed the impact of work from home and virtual technology on meeting effectiveness.
We asked, “Have virtual meetings with your work team become more productive since work-from-home requirements began?”
The majority of our 33 respondents said YES! Here are the final results:
It’s not just your imagination that you’re feeling really beat these days. This Forbes article cites the unique factors of a virtual meeting that fatigue us faster than face-to-face exchanges.
For example, “In a face-to-face meeting, we are able to read the room and then adjust our own behaviors accordingly. So you can imagine our brains are operating on overload trying to figure out how to read 50+ “virtual rooms” at the same time while figuring out whether to stare into the person’s eyes or their baby succulent in the top left corner of the screen,” notes writer Yola Roberts.
And, then there’s the agony of technical issues. That’s another stress factor that wears us down, as does being on stage. “When you’re on a video conference, you know everybody’s looking at you; you are on stage, so there comes the social pressure and feeling like you need to perform.”
May 19, 2020
The May debut of the 10-Second Poll sparked tremendous interest. We asked, “Is the handshake a by-gone practice.” And the majority of the 75 respondents said NO!
Here are the final stats:
Submitted by Andrea Lein, , Ph.D., DLE ’17-’19, Psychologist, Consultant, Coach
Like many of us, I’m using this #stayathome season to challenge myself to find new, creative ways to use my time, talents and skills. Going into the month of May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month, I decided (quite last minute) to launch a holistic mental health wellness challenge on Instagram, which forced me into learning many skills very quickly!
I was nervous to do it because I hadn’t the faintest idea of how to create all the content I wanted to. I could have easily told myself to just wait until I felt more ready – and a bit more proficient. But, I told myself, I would learn a lot simply by showing up daily and taking baby steps.
My hope is that, by stepping out of my own comfort zone on social media, I’m providing value during a time when so many people are needing strategies to stay afloat mentally and emotionally. If nothing else, I know I’ll learn a lot this month, and hard things will become easier.
The one consistent message I have for anyone trying to jumpstart new behaviors, routines and habits is to create micro-goals – baby steps, really – so you can be consistent and gain momentum. Those small actions catapult us into new territory, and we can build from there. Choose one goal (maybe it’s drinking more water) and focus on building that new habit before hopping to the next.
If you want to succeed in your work life, then you have to care about YOU – your whole being: body, mind and spirit. When we’re attending to those various parts of ourselves, we can show up in even bigger and better ways at work. Trust me, I know from personal experience!
For more insights on boosting your mental health and wellness go to Andrea’s Instagram: @dr.andrealein.
May 12, 2020
Submitted by Linda Dulye, President/Founder, Dulye & Co. and the Dulye Leadership Experience
As the world and our lives have pivoted in directions unimaginable, so has the Dulye Leadership Experience. Since the COVID-19 crisis hit, the DLE has been rapidly responding to increasing, evolving needs for learning and networking opportunities.
Community members have lost jobs, taken salary cuts, and experienced career and economic uncertainty—contributing to a heightened demand for group and individual experiences for the premiere professional development that has cultivated the DLE’s respected reputation.
Since mid-March, we have created more and more varied support resources. We have boldly advanced in previously unchartered territory (for the DLE) to deliver online programming. Guided by motivated, dedicated alumni who volunteer many hours of personal time weekly, we have lifted spirits, inspired new friendships and fortified career ownership in hundreds, nationwide.
Our workshops tackle high-demand topics such as time management, budgeting and career literacy. Coaching services provide resume, interviewing and networking support. Teaming up with a colleague at General Dynamics Mission Systems, we created a regular roundtable discussion of workplace culture and leadership essentials, such as trust, communication and collaboration. All of these are happening with a virtual audience.
Every Friday, DLE regulars and newcomers of multiple generations from across and outside of the US log onto laptops or phones–with coffee cups in hand–to swap stories and resilience tips at our Breakfast Club. Among regulars are published authors, analysts, entrepreneurs, engineers, a town planner, senior leaders, marketing managers, and the chair of the Joint Military Operations Department at the US War College.
Programming is free and, as one surprised newcomer described, “with no strings attached.” Since 2008, my personal passion and financial investment has fortified the DLE’s growth as a catalyst to help rising leaders advance their careers, companies and communities.
Connections are more important than ever, as are outlets for improving critical skills. However, right now, accessible, relevant resources for professional and personal development have nearly evaporated. The DLE is filling that void thanks to so many energetic volunteers from our Advisory Board and community.
DLE 2019 Retreat alumni Sophia Romeu and Shannon Ashcroft recently teamed up on a video storytelling session. Sophia, Marketing and Community Relations Manager at the Hotel on North in Pittsfield, Storytime with Sophia several weeks ago—and is excited that the videos are making their way into some Berkshire County virtual classrooms.
In her latest installment, Sophia chose, “Good Morning Yoga: A Pose by Pose Wake Up Story” by Miriam Gates. To see how Shannon, owner of Radiance Yoga, brings Sophia’s spoken words alive in motion, click here: https://www.facebook.com/1397958267125347/posts/2514563605464802/?vh=e&d=n
Says Sophia, “Thank you, Shannon, for joining me on this installment of Storytime with Sophia. I’m thrilled we could collaborate on something that #givesback to our #community.”
Join Steve Rogers, recently met up with five fellow alumni from the DLE 2019 Retreat, for a virtual exchange of experiences and tips for making the most of quarantine times. From adjusting to the eerie silence outside a New York City apartment to gaining conviction after career devastation, their stories are told from the heart in the just released DLE OWN IT! Podcast.
Steve, Branch Manager/AVP for Pittsfield Cooperative Bank in the Berkshires, serves as moderator for this candid conversation about finding silver linings while a pandemic looms large.
Click to listen:
May 5, 2020
Submitted by Ginger Kuenzel, DLE ’12, Speaker, Author, Corporate Consultant, Adirondacks Enthusiast, Hague, NY/ Englewood, FL
Recently, I pulled the chain on my ceiling fan and it came right off in my hand. Since we are on lock-down due to the coronavirus, I figured I better try to fix this myself. After all, it’s not the time to have handymen coming into one’s house. Furthermore, I have plenty of time these days since I can’t go anywhere.
The first part of the repair was pretty simple. It involved removing some screws and then unplugging the electrical connection that connects the fan and light assembly to the fixture on the ceiling. It was a bit tricky since I didn’t have anyone to help hold anything, but I managed by standing on my bed and balancing the fixture on my head so it didn’t come crashing down.
From there, things got more complicated. I don’t want to brag, but I have totally mastered the art of using a screwdriver. I also have great talent in using a wrench or a pair of plyers. When I peered inside the fan assembly that I now held in my hand, I saw a tangle of wires. Uh oh. I have to be honest: I have absolutely no experience when it comes to electrical issues, and also no tools to address them.
Time to tune into YouTube. The first challenge was deciding on which search terms to enter in order to find the right instructional video. After several false starts, I hit paydirt. It turns out that there are about 176 videos in the category of fixing the pull chain thingy on a ceiling fan. I ruled out any videos that were more than two years old. After all, I’m a modern woman.
I finally narrowed my choices down to about 17 videos that were not too long, not too short and not too dated. I understand how Goldilocks must have felt. Of course, the thing is that if you watch 17 videos, even if they are each only several minutes, you’re still pretty far into the project in terms of time commitment. I noticed that most presenters in the videos spent the first minute or two explaining how to get the fan down from the ceiling. I was well beyond that stage. In fact, I thought to myself, maybe I should make my own video about that step. No. Stay focused, I told myself. Do not get off task.
After watching several videos, I discovered that I was going to need a new part. Despite the coronavirus lock-down, I ventured out to the hardware store, donned in mask and gloves, to buy the part. Charlie, the friendly salesman, directed me to the right aisle. It turns out that there were choices, and he wasn’t sure which part I needed. I told him that I would get it from my car. When he saw me carrying the entire fan assembly, and not just the part I needed to replace, he shot me a look of astonishment. He was amazed, he admitted, that I’d taken it all down and disassembled it.
The thing I’ve learned from my many trips to hardware stores over the years is that it’s a good idea to let these guys think they know more than I do. You know, get him to take pity on me and just attach the wires from the fan to the new pull chain switch for me. And, in fact, he was all set to do just that. I was feeling very confident and also relieved. But at that very moment, unfortunately for me, his boss happened to walk by and told him he couldn’t do that. It was a liability issue. Damn. But Charlie assured me it was very simple to attach these wires and that he had a lot of confidence that I could manage on my own.
So, after paying for the part, as well as a new pair of wire cutters and strippers, I headed home. It was nearly time to tune into a zoom cocktail hour with family members, and I was hoping that maybe someone on the call might have had a similar pull chain installation experience and could give me some tips. I was all set to show them my project via my computer camera. No, none of them had ever replaced a fan pull chain switch, and no, they weren’t interested in seeing my project.
I spent a good part of the next day trying to get the wires into tiny holes on my new switch. It wasn’t as simple as Charlie had said it would be. They just wouldn’t stay in the holes. I would get one in and move on to the next. By the time I got that inserted, the first one had fallen out. I kept cutting the wires shorter because they kept getting so frayed. Of course, that made it harder to work with them. I finally realized that I was going to have to go to the hardware store and get more wire, which I intended to splice onto the existing wires. I’m telling you this to impress you with my knowledge of the word splice and to make you understand that I have become somewhat of an electrical expert over the past two days.
I decided to go to a different hardware store this time, hoping that they might not be such sticklers about liability and would offer to just attach the part for me. Again, I took my entire fan assembly and marched into the store. Two salesmen were standing in the main aisle. When they saw me, one said something briefly to the other and they both took off down different side aisles. So much for my theory about hardware guys wanting to be helpful to damsels in distress.
Once home, I connected my new wires to the old wires (with my new soldering gun) and put the fan back together. I then climbed up on my bed, held the fan on my head while I reattached it, and admired my handiwork.
Now, the real test. Pull the chain and see if it works. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to know. Because if it didn’t, there was no way I was taking it down again. No, it would simply become a decorative, albeit nonfunctional part of my home.
But when I pulled the chain, it did work! Admittedly, it doesn’t work exactly as it should. It’s supposed to have three speeds, and it only has one – fast. But who’s getting into detail here?! It works. Period!
Submitted by J.T. Compeau, DLE ‘09-‘11, Founder, Speechwriter and Consultant at The Content Interpreter LLC , Secaucus, NJ
These are trying times to say the least. When the future is uncertain, what we say as leaders is under greater scrutiny, and words are more closely tracked.
For the last couple of weeks, I have been looking for examples of solid leadership. From the governor of my own state taking swift and decisive action to flatten the curve, to musicians and TV hosts offering entertainment from their own homes, they are abundant!
To me, that is leadership in a nutshell: Giving your people – your audience – what they need. Jack Welch said it best in his famous quote: Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. And in this difficult time, we are all ensuring that we grow together.
Have the late night shows produced from home by Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and others been a bit strange and unconventional? Maybe. I found them to be uniquely entertaining in a way that just can’t be captured with a traditional studio setting or format.
Personally, I have been encouraged by the number of leaders who I have contacted for the first time. They have been so generous with their time and expertise. We had never met before, but when you approach them with genuine curiosity and good intentions, you won’t believe who you can get on the phone!
I think we’re witnessing an extraordinary moment. Everyone has become a leader in their own way, from their homes! Much of what I have seen in the last couple of weeks has been about growing others, in ways big and small.
Here’s what I believe: things will likely get much worse before they get better. But they will get better. They must. And when we get back to “normal”, or at least a new normal, I don’t want people to lose their leadership spirit, especially when it comes to how they communicate.
The good news is that you have always had the ability to inject leadership into your communications, no matter the format, or the message. Here’s how you make sure it stays in your grasp for the long run:
Learn how to put each of these dynamics into action with tips from my blog: https://contentinterpreter.com/blog/good-communicators-are-the-leaders-we-need
Let’s face it, screen time is exhausting. As this Forbes article attests, “Now that we’re social distancing and using video conferencing for almost everything, the lines of neuro association between work and home are being blurred.”
Whether you are managing a team or collaborating with others in a team, discover tips to help mitigate burnout and stress from online overload.
Start out with new ways to conduct team check-ins.
Submitted by Shannon Ashcroft, DLE ’19 and Owner, Radiance Yoga and Ashcroft Wellness in Pittsfield, MA, provides tips for home wellness routines in this DLE Hub feature for stress relief
If you’re new to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and intimidated by all the crazy workouts out there, you’re not alone! The good news is HIIT workouts don’t have to involve high impact or advanced exercises because it’s all relative to your fitness level.
The goal is to get your heart rate up in an efficient way utilizing intense periods of work and shorter periods of rest. In this workout we use simple bodyweight exercises and offer modifications that are safe for beginners.
All fitness levels are welcome to modify or advance each exercise to achieve a great sweat or a simple movement break in the office!
April 17, 2020
Submitted by Ginger Kuenzel, DLE ’12, Speaker, Author, Corporate Consultant, Adirondacks Enthusiast, Hague, NY
Writer’s Note: In this tongue-in-cheek article, learn how many ways there are to procrastinate
When this whole shelter-in-place directive first started — as a result of the coronavirus — I thought I would really benefit from my time at home. What a great opportunity to start in on all those things I’ve been meaning to do for years and have been putting off – like sorting through old photos, cleaning out closets, washing windows or darning socks.
After a few days, I realized that I hadn’t started any of those projects. I was just glued to the news reports all day long. And since they all indicated that we’ll be sheltering in place for months, why would I want to clean out a closet or sort through photos now when I could put that off until later? After all, I’ve been putting those things off for all these years for a good reason. Now I have even more good reasons to put them off even longer.
When a week had gone by, I started to beat up on myself for not having accomplished anything except becoming a walking Wikipedia on the coronavirus. I also decided it was time to take some serious action by using this time at home to do something that would be valuable – like studying a foreign language or learning how to play the ukulele.
Or perhaps I should design my own website or write that memoir that I’ve been composing in my head for years. Yes, any of these would add value to my life – far more than cleaning out a closet. Since I certainly wasn’t adding any value to my bank account these days, adding value to my life would be a good thing.
During the next week, I spent my days trying to decide which activity would be the most valuable. I got up each morning, considered my choices, and started looking online for courses. But I found myself distracted by articles about the coronavirus. In fact, I spent the entire week becoming even more of an expert on the disease. Well, that’s not exactly true, since the information I absorbed every day was no longer valid by the next day. Still, I couldn’t stop myself from reading every article I saw – and clicking on links within those articles to read related articles. It was completely addictive.
Now I’m more than a month into this, and I’ve decided that it’s not a good idea to try to learn a new talent online since I am so easily distracted by all those alerts that keep popping up with scary statistics. No, I need to focus on something that I don’t need the web for.
So, for this week, I have set myself two goals to expand my horizons: 1) Learning how to walk and chew gum at the same time and 2) Discovering what the hokey pokey really is all about. I’ll get back to you on my progress.
Submitted by Alison Brigham, DLE ’19, Marketing Manager, Lee Bank, Lee, MA. Note: Alison is one of four DLE Alumni receiving the prestigious Berkshires 40 Under Forty Award for 2020.
Many of us are anticipating receiving Economic Impact Payments (aka stimulus checks) as part of the CARES Act, which was signed into law about two weeks ago.
The first round of stimulus checks has begun to appear in bank accounts across the country. The first round of payments is being made to households who filed federal taxes in 2018 or 2019 and who already have direct deposit information on file with the IRS. The House Ways and Means Committee estimated that the IRS would make about 81 million direct deposits during the first wave.
A second round of payments will be processed in late April to Social Security beneficiaries who don’t file a tax return but receive their payments by direct deposit.
Finally, paper checks will begin to be sent in early May to taxpayers who don’t have their bank account information on file, although this process is expected to take as long as 20 weeks, as the IRS only has the bandwidth to issue about 5 million checks per week.
The U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS announced that a new tool will be available on the IRS Economic Impact Payment website on April 17. The Web application will be called “Get My Payment” and it will provide various tools:
If you have questions about your eligibility for payment, contact the Economic Impact Payment Information Center for answers to many FAQs.
DLE President and Founder, Linda Dulye, was guest speaker on the EforAll COVID-19 Coping Tactics Webinar on the topic “Resilience, Optimism and Leadership” on April 15.
Linda shared her four-prong strategy for staying healthy, productive and positive with program host Deborah Gallant, Executive Director, EforAll/Berkshires. She also talked about finding silver linings in crisis and dealing with social disconnection.
Watch the video HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYkCpKuzs5I&t=6s
How can our rapidly expanding DLE virtual programs power up your professional networking and skills? This Fast Company article offers tips to keep connections robust in strategic ways.
You can improve skills and learning with the help of technology and time while you are trapped at home, says author Megan Burke Roudebush. “Maybe you have a goal to do more public speaking, and you have a friend who is experienced in this area and would be willing to do a Zoom call with you to talk about how to be a successful speaker.”
Submitted by Kate Lauzon, DLE ’19, Project Coordinator, EforAll/Berkshires, who is leading a major mask making program in the Berkshires, Pittsfield, MA
I received the book, The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, during the book swap at the 2019 DLE Retreat. It was a book that fellow retreat alum, Bobby New, had read and recommended. With shelter at home practices underway, it seemed to be a good time to pick up the book. And I’m glad I did. There was a lot to learn, apply and share.
The book had me crying many times, I identified with being unwanted, unheard, unpopular, and a ghost to the world. These very same feelings I had experienced as a child, all through school and much into my adult life. I still struggle with some of this today, although not as bad. I’m definitely not looking for sympathy, it’s the truth, and it’s something I struggle with.
Why do I bring it up now? I think it’s very relevant to what’s going on now during COVID-19. Many who may have never experienced this are experiencing it now. I’m not here to tell you in all my infinite wisdom how to navigate this or even make it go away. I have no idea, hence struggling with it today. The angst is real. During this time, we are isolated more than ever and perhaps a true test of patience is upon us as well, for those of us who are at home with partners or families.
It’s been more than a month since we’ve been told to self-quarantine, work from home and school from home. More often in the last few days I’ve looked at everyday objects in my house and thought how I could use it to stab someone who is getting on my nerves—just kidding.
Mostly, this surreal situation has brought me to a very real place of “Is this where I really want to be?” Some life goals I’ve been working on with my mentor have been pushed right up in my face lately. I’ve had no choice but to look at all the things around my immediate surroundings and clean them up. My space has not looked so clean before. I’m getting projects done, other ones I’ve put down half-finished or even talked about.
One thing I realized (it was more like a smack in the face honestly), is that I need my own house. My entire life I’ve done a lot of work on the places I’ve lived, all for the benefit of the landlord or housemate. It’s time to put that energy into my own place. There are steps I have to take first. One is to concentrate on what my needs are, list them out, and check them off one by one. I started to do this a few years ago, but I let distractions get in the way.
During this time at home, I’ve been able to reflect on this exact issue. Today, I’m going to be a little selfish, I need to be. If I take the time to work on myself, I’ll be able to help others in another capacity.
I’ve heard that “putting your oxygen mask on” means “taking care of yourself.” When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs you to “put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.” It doesn’t mean to stop caring about others or connecting with them, it just means to focus on your priorities. Let’s face it, being secluded is weighing on me but it’s also given me a chance to weed out what’s important.
So, I’m challenging myself to “put on my oxygen mask.” Ask yourself, is this something you need to do, too?
April 7, 2020
Relief and resources for small business owners was another popular topic at the April 3rd Breakfast Club. Several participants talked about having to close their shops, pivot to online services and seek guidance about new government relief programs.
Roger Gibboni Jr.
DLE community member Roger Gibboni Jr., who is Director, Legal Affairs at the US Chamber Institute for Legal Reform in Washington, DC, offers two helpful resources—noting, “There are various helpful and user-friendly resources that small businesses can look to for guidance on accessing relief provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the expansion of the Small Business Administration’s long-standing Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL).”
Here are Roger’s recommendations:
• The US Chamber’s Combatting the Coronavirus business response and resources page includes specific actions for small businesses. Here’s the link: https://www.uschamber.com/coronavirus
•https://www.uschamber.com/sites/default/files/023595_comm_corona_virus_smallbiz_loan_final.pdf. The guide was tweeted out by Mark Cuban (Shark Tank regular and NBA Dallas Mavericks owner) and CNBC host Marcus Lemonis, as well as several members of Congress.
Submitted by Danielle Sanders, Facilities Strategist and Alignment Business Partner, General Dynamics Mission Systems, Pittsfield, MA
Since I was a little girl, I’ve always had a desire to help others and be prepared. Growing up in a rural area always had me preparing for emergencies, especially when you are alone in the woods.
When I was 15, I learned how to become a lifeguard. At 16 I started working at JCPenney and continued there for 6 years because I loved being able to turn someone’s bad day into something good. I would be an elder person’s “personal shopper” daily – I would even carry a stool around the store with me so they could sit down when they got tired.
In college, I trained to be a lay responder and went to school for teaching so that I could impact someone’s life. This feeling to be someone who can help in times of need has always been evident in my life.
When I heard that masks might be in short supply, I thought I could use my isolation time during this COVID-19 crisis for something good. I immediately thought about how I had a sewing machine at home, all of my late grandmother’s sewing kits and 100’s of her spools of thread. Doing a mental check of all the basic sewing needs, I ordered some fabric and elastic to make some masks.
Making the masks gives me a sense of purpose and feeling that I can help in a time when people need it most. I have done a few hours of research and trials during my free time after work. After a few redesigns, I found a mask that will fit properly and offer the right protection.
While I was learning, I had many thoughts about where these masks will end up. So far, I have made masks for my parents, my brother and his girlfriend, my neighbors, my boyfriend and myself, and am planning to hand out the rest to one of my good friends who works at Berkshire Medical Center. I will be continuing to make them and give them away as I have the time, which is easy to come by these days!
If this story has you thinking about mask making, here are some tips for first-time sewers:
1. Don’t get upset if something doesn’t go right the first time. It’s OK to fail! I know it’s cliché, but it’s the truth – keep trying and you will succeed! I can’t count the number of times I had to re-thread the needle, or pull all the thread out of the machine, things happen that you would never expect. Just laugh it off and try again.
2. Read/watch all the instructions one time through before you start to make your own. Here are two resources that I found helpful: YouTube Mask Video: Make your own face mask (from scratch) / New York Times Article: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/31/opinion/coronavirus-n95-mask.html
Danielle shows some of her finished masks
3. There is nothing worse than having to undo stitching!
4. If using a sewing machine, make sure your bobbin has enough tension. This was the hardest thing for me to learn, and I am still working through the quirks of my machine.
5. Threading your sewing machine needle for the first time will take your back to second grade days when you had to do the trial and error method of solving a problem. You will get it eventually. Reviewing short YouTube videos will be a huge help!
6. Pull your thread back behind the machine, give yourself a 5-6” tail and lightly hold it when you start to sew any piece of fabric. This will prevent you from having to re-thread your needle.
7. Give yourself kudos for learning something new! Sewing is a great skill to have and it opens up your world to endless crafts and creations!
8. Finally, please note that cotton masks do not completely protect against COVID19, but in conjunction with social distancing, they can be effective.
Are you calm under pressure? A super techie? Resourceful? Take time this week to conduct a personal inventory of your strengths. This Forbes article recommends periodic self-analysis is invaluable—and times of crisis provide unique introspection.
“Each of us possesses more inner strength than we realize, and it’s easy to forget because thankfully, we aren’t often called to step up to such extreme conditions,” notes author Dawn Graham. “But consider that many of us have come through very trying situations before, whether on a national level like 9/11 or on a personal level through sudden or unexpected tragedy. Now is the time to RISE.”
April 3, 2020
Submitted by Hannah DeLisle-Stall, DLE ’19, Supplier Quality & Development Manager, Collins Aerospace, Windsor Locks, CT
Now that remote work is a part of our day-to-day reality, many of us are experiencing blurred lines between work and home life. Even as someone who worked remotely prior to the onset of the coronavirus and social distancing, my normal work-from-home arrangements have required significant adjustment.
My son is 13 months old and at a stage where he requires our full attention. This means that we rely heavily on full-time childcare while we are both working. With our normal daycare closed, my husband and I have both needed to get creative with how we add caring for our son to the normal workday.
Whether it’s making room for childcare or self-care, here are some tips to help you build a work routine and schedule around some of the changes we’re experiencing:
Hannah and her 24/7 team member in their home office
1. Get to know your energy peaks and dips. A key part of understanding your work-from-home style is to recognize the time(s) of the day where you have the most energy and focus to do your work. This will be key in determining when your most focused work tasks should take place. I use a sleep tracking app called Rise to better understand how my sleep patterns impact my energy peaks throughout the day.
2. Understand your work’s needs. Do you have a team call at the same time every day? Do you need to be on-call to answer the phone or emails during certain periods? Depending on the flexibility of your work, this could be a significant consideration.
3. Group like work tasks. I’ve built into my schedule two different work time blocks: my “core” hours – when I schedule collaborative work, communicate by phone or WebEx with my team, and block times for completing deep, focused work–and then my catch-up hours, where I am answering emails, planning tasks, and completing other administrative-type tasks. I schedule my catch-up hours for the end of the day when I have a more flexible time block, as the amount of this type of work varies each day. Having a purpose for my time blocks allows me to meet the needs of my role, while also maximizing those times that my energy and focus are at their peak.
4. Be open and clear with colleagues – including your manager. After you pitch a work schedule change to your manager and gain their support, be sure you also communicate your work hours to colleagues. Just like with a normal workday, be clear with how someone can reach you urgently if needed outside of working hours. Use your calendar or messaging status to communicate when you are and are not available.
5. Stick to your schedule. Just like when you’re working on-site, if you are taking calls during your non-work hours, you may be sending the message that you are available at all hours of the day. Sticking to the schedule you’ve communicated will help you to focus on work when you’re at work and on other things when you’re not at work. If you honor your schedule, others will too.
6. Maintain an open communication with your manager. Especially as the social distancing situation evolves, you may find a need to adjust your schedule as time goes on. Be sure to check in with your manager on a regular basis to assure you are still meeting their expectations.
My husband and I have both worked with our managers to modify our core working hours to accommodate our changing needs. We developed the schedule shown below, and each proposed it to our managers, and they agreed that this would be the best approach. We both continue to check in with them on a regular basis to assure that this setup is still working, and we work together to adapt and back each other up when there is a scheduling conflict.
While your work-from-home updated routine may not go so far as changing your work hours, you can still use these strategies to help plan your day. Working from home can be the ultimate test of your focus and routine. Consider continuing to use these strategies when it comes time to return to the office.
Don’t let the reliance on keypads and mobile devices, keep you from visibly demonstrating your value to your team and your organization. Step up and proactively offer ideas and assistance. You can stay memorable in a positive way with tips from this Forbes article.
Advice to heed:
1. Track your tasks and accomplishments. Create a dashboard that you update daily. Beyond recording meetings and calls you’ve taken, chart decisions you’ve contributed to and any solutions you’ve provided.
2. Recognize team members. Now more than ever, acts of appreciation provide much needed boosts. Express your gratitude vocally with a phone call, which can lead to a few minutes of exchange about how things are going. Let others hear that you care.
3. Keep your eye on the end goal. Conduct frequent checks that your work output supports overall team and department goals. Understanding your own value goes a long way to helping you deliver it.
During this time of rapid, stressful change and challenge, the DLE is sharing personal stories and ready-to-apply tips from our Community for transitioning from the Office to Work From Home. We call it O2WFH.
Anna Worley, DLE ’19, Systems Engineer at General Dynamics Mission Systems in Pittsfield, MA. Anna is a member of the DLE Advisory Board
Each day of working from home has presented its own challenges but also, given insight into new and better practices to master working from home. By taking on this situation with an open mind, you never know how your day may turn out!
Here are a few tips I’m using to keep cabin fever low and motivations high!
1. Make at least one phone call a day. If this is possible, try to at least engage in one over-the-phone conversation a day. Whether it be a conference call, asking a coworker a question, or simply checking in with your boss – physically talking with others can help with all of the social distancing and keeping the team collaboration alive.
2. Have a dedicated workspace: Your living room, the kitchen table, an office, or your siblings’ room who is away at college (my current set up). No matter what it is, have a dedicated space that is for you to work in. By having this space, you know that when you sit down for the day it is time to work. This helps avoid some of the distractions that you may experience while not being in the office.
3. I like to Move it Move it! You know the drill. It could be walking the dog at lunch or simply walking into the other room every once and a while. Don’t forget to move. Sitting at a desk all day is not healthy, both mentally and physically. Although you may not realize it when you are in the office, you move much more than expected by going to meetings, asking questions, taking lunch, etc. Don’t let the change of scenery starve your muscles of some stretching!
Lexi Aruck, DLE ’15 & ’18, Management System Specialist-Supply Innovations at Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis, MO
For now, I’ve temporarily relocated from my St. Louis apartment to my boyfriend’s house in Schenectady, NY. He is in the process of changing jobs and moving. So, in addition to the fast changing COVID-19 crisis, there is a lot of change and commotion around me.
Working from home is extremely difficult for me, because sitting still in one place all day is just about the hardest thing you could ask me to do. Getting up and walking to meeting rooms or walking over to the desks of my colleagues is my respite during a “normal” workday.
The biggest challenge I’ve had to face is figuring out how to maintain some kind of routine, and a big part of my daily routine is still getting exercise in before work. I didn’t get a workout in yesterday and sitting at my dining room table for 9.5 hours just about killed me.
Yes, it’s getting stir crazy. Here’s what I’ve learned so far on what NOT to do:
And, here are some things that have helped me be efficient:
Jenna Parezo, DLE ’14 & ’16, Regional Sales Manager for Otis Elevator Company, Chicago, IL
Since September 2019, I have been managing a sales team of 17 people. While our team members are typically working in branch offices day-to-day, I am not in the same branch with them.
I am based in Chicago and my team is spread out between California, St. Louis, and everywhere in between. In addition, my boss is based in Los Angeles, so I have been developing ways of not only leading my team from afar, but also navigating how to best communicate with my boss remotely as well.
Being in Chicago, a major metropolitan city where the number of COVID-19 cases was fast approaching the record numbers of New York City and San Francisco, I decided on March 16th to leave my apartment and join my family. I quickly packed my essentials within hours of making that decision and caught a flight to our family home in Southern California. Beyond clothes, packing my essentials meant packing my work computer, notebooks, oh… and my textbooks for the part-time MBA course that I am taking at Indiana University (Kelley Direct Online MBA).
Needless to say, it was a whirlwind. My ability to pick up from wherever I left off in Chicago has made me realize how lucky I am to have a career that allows that flexibility and a family that is so welcoming of me bunkering down with them. I’m a sales leader at Otis Elevator, a 163-year-old company that is quickly trying to digitalize. I could not help but think – this Pandemic is the fast-track to digital transformation that we have been waiting for!
We are realizing the capacity and capability of all different parts of our organization to be able to work remotely, and with this time will tell whether productivity will increase or not. I am so excited to see the outcome and play a part in the success of our organization during these challenging times!
The team I lead is unique in the sense that they are not ‘field’ sales reps, they are ‘remote’ account reps, so they are used to communicating with customers via phone and email already. The challenge we are facing is learning how to communicate internally since we all have been relocated from the usual office setting.
I’ve made changes in my workstyle. As manager, I am having weekly individual check-ins and making myself available via phone, email, text, Skype, Face Time, and anything else! In addition to individual check-ins, I am hosting a monthly group call that allows for an open forum discussion of any challenges that may need attention, or any wins they would like to share with the team.
Open dialogue within the group is tremendous during uncertain times. I have also gotten into a habit of sending them weekly articles in addition to tips for handling customers and other essential business needs at this time. Whether the content is from New York Times, Forbes or Harvard Business Review, my goal is to inspire them to think outside the box, take this time as an opportunity to be creative in the way they communicate both internally and externally, and most important stay positive and stay healthy!
For those who are navigating the challenges of remote leadership, here’s my advice for keeping your team connected:
Jesse Noll, DLE ’16, ’18 & ‘19, Manager, Integrated Planning & Custom Content & Experiences at Wavemaker, New York, NY
The hardest part for me is keeping active. I’ve been on a roll this year with my workouts and was staying so motivated. So, with gyms closing this has been crushing to my goals.
To stay active, I’ve been doing a 45-minute walk at lunchtime to get fresh air, listen to a podcast, and enjoy an afternoon cup of coffee, post lunch. Then, in the evenings, I’ve transitioned out of work mode by doing some form of workout video.
My team shares workout videos and podcasts to each other through a group message. Also, my company’s HR team is sending out daily emails on wellness tips that range from workouts, mindfulness and also different playlists of music or podcasts to help entertain.
Maple Chen, DLE ’12-’18, Associate, Accord Group Holdings, San Francisco, CA
Working out is a big part of my life. I go to a gym daily. Since that’s not possible, I’ve had to create a home gym in a very compact space in my home in San Francisco. Since I don’t have a small dumbbell at home, I re-purposed a gallon of vinegar in my pantry. I also use a box of vegetable stock for tiny weights. I’ve gotten creative in modifying exercises, but so far, it’s working.
I have made these adjustments in my work style as well:
Alison Brigham, DLE ’19 & DLE 2020 40 Under Forty Honoree, Marketing Manager at Lee Bank, Berkshires, MA
Alison and her WFH teammate, Banana
1. Bring home some office decorations. I brought home my Trendsetter Award and some photos and books from my desk to make it feel like I’m still at work.
2. Schedule virtual check-ins with your co-workers. Even if you can’t pop by their office, you can pop up in their direct messages!
3. Take this time to focus on some tasks that you’ve been “too busy” to catch up on. Personally, I plan to refresh my Photoshop and InDesign skills over the next several weeks
Bobby New, DLE ’19, Staff Accountant, Berkshire Sterile Manufacturing, Lee, MA
Lean on your friends, family and coworkers to hold you accountable and up to a professional standard. Here are a few things I’ve done to overcome struggles while working remotely:
I would like to wish everybody THE BEST! during this difficult time and hope all are staying safe and healthy. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it is important to constantly remind yourself…Are you working hard, or hardly working?
HOT READ: NETWORKING WHILE BEING STUCK INSIDE
Don’t let WFH and self-isolation curb your networking activities. You can still make meaningful connections, as this LinkedIn Post reveals. Make time to boost your online presence, through platforms like LinkedIn, and actively seek making new acquaintances.
Marcus Coleman, DLE ’16-’19, Registered Client Service Associate at Raymond James in Pittsfield, MA, submits this hot read with his endorsement: “The author (Andrew Seaman) shows there are multiple ways you can network using technology and virtual outreach. You don’t have to rely on in-person experiences. This is an entrepreneurial approach to networking and growing your professional brand.”