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How did I survive the survive the quarantine and how I stay “sane”

By Naomi Heil posted Dec 09, 2020 04:08 PM


I am sure we are all handling this pandemic in our own way so, I thought that this week I would share with you the steps that I took to work remotely and stay somehow “sane”.

It all started in the middle of April when my co-worker and I were just returning from and Underwriting Trucking Class in FL. In our return to the office we made the decision to move all operations remotely to keep the team and our families safe. The owner of the agency, Jill Rogala, made sure each of us had everything we needed for what we then thought might be a two-week quarantine. As we now know, that quarantine has turned out to be a little longer than two weeks!

                #1. SET UP MY NEW WORK STATION. Luckily in my house we have an extra room that I was able to use as my new office. I set up my laptop with an extra screen and, eventually got a docking station to have three screens. I set up all of my office files, my scanner and office supplies. I also moved the dog bed into my new office, so that my new “secretary” could happily keep me company while I worked!

                #2. ESTABLISH A “NEW” WORKDAY ROUTINE. My home is about one hour with a long bridge away from my office in Mackinaw City, so I very much appreciate the extra sleep and the much shorter “commute” to work! I remembered from the “Ultimate Account Manager School” that Mary Eisenhart mentioned that when she worked from home she would always “dress for success”, so, every morning, I wake up, make coffee, take care of my morning household chores, and dress to go to work. For the next eight hours, I am “clocked in” and focus only on my workstation, just as I did when I worked in the office in Mackinaw City. I check all my emails, my backlog folders and check with the team, providing them with a short summary of my work agenda for that day. Following this sort of routine is very important when working “remotely”!

                #3. CHALLENGES My work computer shifted from a traditional desktop to a laptop, so I had to move all programs and files outside the cloud, to ensure efficiency. Suddenly we weren't able to hand out folders to each other, so everything had to be digital. Regular communication is very important so that my colleagues know that I’m dedicated to working a full 8-hour day and not just “duffing off!!”.

                #4. FINDING THE POSSITIVE IN THE NEGATIVE. Suddenly the media was full of negative news and we found ourselves in the middle of a “deadly virus that nobody knew anything about”. The lockdown started right at the beginning of summer so, my husband and I decided to avoid the indoors and spend as much times outside as we could. Being outdoors for us was somehow safe and “Zen”. Once the weather started to cool down, I got crafting. My office is all about business from 8am-4pm and all about Pinterest from 4pm - Bed Time. Spending less time on the road allowed me to spend more time at home with my husband & pets and that makes me happy. I am learning to focus my energy on the good things I have and to avoid stressing out about things I can’t control.

                #5. WORKING TOGETHER AS A TEAM, BUT REMOTELY. We video call and facetime a lot, frequently we find ourselves working with the camera on! I think it gives us the sensation that we’re in the same room! We check in with each other every morning. We have continued having our “weekly meetings” and video chat whenever we can (instead of just calling). How do I try to fill the “gap” resulting from lack of personal contact? By trying to make myself available at all times!

Overall I think our small agency has successfully survived the COVID-19 lockdown. We miss each other and our in-person interactions but, we continue to build our agency culture, and this can only make our operations stronger. We have plans to safely get together for our one-year review and we pray we can go back to a safe normal soon. I would love to hear other people's stories and know how you are handling this difficult time.

Naomi Heil
Bridge Insurance Group