It’s safe to say that things have changed dramatically for most people in just three weeks. For me, they’ve changed even more.
It was only 12 days ago that I began my first week at Crenshaw Communications, a technology PR agency in Manhattan. I was really looking forward to starting my new job, getting to know everyone, and joining the company’s Thursday happy hours.
For three glorious days I commuted to the office. Around the third day I noticed my fellow commuters were taking precautions — wearing masks, gloves, and using hand sanitizer more often than usual. In the office, various client and tech industry events were being canceled; in fact, there was a cancellation nearly every day. Wednesday night, after Tom Hanks announced he had tested positive for the virus and the NBA cancelled the rest of their season, I wondered if I should ask to work from home.
I felt a little uncomfortable about the idea, even though the company has a very generous work-from-home policy. But I needn’t have worried; by the next day, nearly everyone was working remotely. With our IT provider’s help, the agency upgraded our remote desktop application setup, and it was quickly decided that we would do so indefinitely.
Despite the liberal WFH policy in the pre-pandemic days, I had planned on coming into the office for a while to become acclimated and have a full grasp on what was needed when I later chose to work from home. I’ve never worked remotely before and I had only spent three days in the office. I was worried about not being able to access necessary items, afraid of potentially doing something incorrectly, and wondering how productive I would be. Communication was a concern— what if I got stuck on something and it was more difficult to explain the problem remotely versus in-person?
To my surprise, I fell into the swing of things rather quickly. Luckily, we use Google Documents for everything, so I’m able to access my Outlook account via my home computer and mobile, and Slack has been helpful in allowing me to chat with coworkers throughout the day to ask questions. I always know what’s going on in real time on our different channels. Our daily check-ins on Zoom are also helping me remember everyone’s name and to put a face to the voices I hear on daily calls. I’ve read countless articles on how to successfully work from home and I’ve followed most of the suggestions — like, having a routine and creating a to-do list for tasks. Some also recommend dressing as though you’re heading to the office and going outside, but due to recent events, I’ve opted out of that one!
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been working more from the desk in my living room than the one in my new office and I’ve seen my coworkers through a screen more than in person. Although my start at Crenshaw didn’t go as planned, I feel lucky that I’m able to have a job with the ability to work remotely — I just didn’t foresee the possibility of having to do it indefinitely. I guess those Thursday happy hours will have to be over Zoom for the time being. Cheers!