Work from Home Diaries, Vol. 1

Whether it’s a self-imposed quarantine or your new workplace normal, a lot of us are working from home… a lot longer than we thought we would be! At EIM, our business continuity plan involves much of our staff working offsite, and remaining staff working in split early morning and evening shifts to provide better physical distancing. We asked our Label Experts to tell us in their own words about the upsides and downsides of working from home, and how they’re adjusting, enjoying, and thriving working remotely.

Working Two Full Time Jobs Simultaneously

Lead Prepress Technician EMILY BEMIS

Transitioning to working remotely was not that big of an adjustment for me because I was already working remotely a couple hours a day before the pandemic. I was comfortable with the logistics and little work arounds that come with the territory. The bigger change was adjusting to the idea that our temporary situation was not going to be as temporary as we had thought. Three weeks of working from home turned into working from home indefinitely. This is a daunting concept when you are working from home with a toddler!

My biggest challenge when it comes to working from home is that I am working two full time jobs simultaneously. I am now a stay at home mom AND a working mom. My husband is still working outside the home, so my computer, my dog and my daughter are all fighting for my attention at the same time.

My top tip for working from home is to set up a comfortable workstation. Fortunately, I was able to get my monitor, mouse, and keyboard delivered to my doorstep so I could replicate my onsite workstation (minus the bottomless coffee and air conditioning).  Working from home is tricky enough without having to use the touchpad on a laptop.

My silver lining is that I’m no longer missing out on my daughter’s milestones. As difficult as it is juggling parenthood and work simultaneously, I am so thankful for this time with my girl. She’s at an age where she learns and changes so much every day that I feel really lucky to be home to witness the transformation.

Enjoying a Long Avoided Change

Account Manager ED AUGUST

Ed's new desk area.
Ed’s new desk area.

My new normal is that I choose to not use the term “new normal.” Transitioning to working remotely was easier than expected… I had to figure out how to use Microsoft Teams and Zoom video conferencing, but it helped that our technology is pretty good.

With fewer interruptions, I find I am more productive than back at the office. I wasn’t expecting to like working from home.  Historically, I always resisted the idea (wanting to keep “work” and “home” separated). I enjoy getting to choose what music I am listening to and now that it is A/C season, I am also relieved to have control of my own thermostat! It was always far too warm in the office.

With two people in our house working from home, we learned just how pathetic our broadband provider’s service was.  Switching providers solved the problem (and even saved some money).

Working remotely really allows for improved focus and productivity. If you’re struggling to embrace it, my advice is to stay in the habit of getting up, showering, getting dressed in real clothes (not pajamas) and having breakfast before sitting down to work.

And I have to say, my favorite part of working remotely is already being home for lunch!

Separating Home and Work

HR Administrator KIM BRACKETT

Transitioning to remote work was pretty easy. I do miss being able to easily check in with people and simply see them around the office; but most of my work is computer based, so I can do that anywhere.

My silver lining is we’re all safe and thanks to our IT person Joey, and technology, we are able to connect virtually. I also enjoy getting some chores done during my lunch break to free up my evenings/weekends. My favorite part of working remotely is not having a long commute. I have gained almost 2 hours to my day!

A big challenge is staying focused. Sometimes home projects catch my eye and I want to tackle that instead of doing my work. I also had to figure out how to brainstorm alone…at least I’m trying to figure it out. I’m used to the quick back and forth with a co-worker when I hit a block.

My best advice is to be flexible yet keep the core of your routine the same so you can have some separation of work and home. I’m fortunate to have a home office so when I “leave” at 5, I can shut the door and be away from my work area…though I still tend to check my work email on my phone.

Adapting to New Challenges

Vice President & Co-Owner HEATHER BELL

Alex (EIM’s President) and I have been integrating work from home since we bought EIM in 2006. We started homeschooling our youngest last year, as well. But the last couple months have added a whole new spin—the work is more urgent and there is a large volume of information each day to take in and integrate. In addition, our college aged son is suddenly home from his first year and trying to complete his semester online.

I feel lucky that so much of the hard work of this transition was already in place. Alex and I have a rhythm and pace to working together, since we have done so for over 14 years. Only a few minor tweaks were needed to adjust our 3rd grader’s homeschool schedule. I’m used to completing projects after the kids are down for bed, so quite a bit of my workflow is the same.

But we did have to make some changes in order to adjust to 4 people trying to complete a full day’s work at home at once! Every person now has a designated work-space, and our dining room has become the family office. In order to keep the tiniest bit of work-life balance, we now eat all our meals in the kitchen. It seems small, but that “commute” at lunchtime to the table allows each of us to shift from “work” to “home.” It also makes it clear who is still working and might need a little space. Our guest room and a corner of Alex and my bedroom are now designated “Zoom Zones,” where we know we can get a tiny bit of quiet for calls, classes, and meetings… I have a feeling I will sorely miss summer camps if they don’t run this summer!

My 3rd grade kiddo has developed some independence with their work, so I can hand them several assignments before I duck into a “Zoom Zone” for an hour-long meeting. This doesn’t mean there won’t be a sudden crash from the living room, or a kid or two dashing into the call to demand my undivided attention, but I think my coworkers are used to that. They are all dealing with the same thing!

Home office setup
Heather’s remote work desk area.

I’ve really enjoyed my yard and the woods near our house this spring. I can’t remember the last time I could study the leaves unfurling so completely, or watch a bobcat stroll down our driveway. Alex and I now have a regular pre-7am walk with whoever is up and our dog. We follow the trails through the woods, and our youngest turns up logs to find red backed salamanders and interesting insects.

I admit, we use the time to plan our morning managers meeting and discuss the morning’s headlines, but it is also a few moments to soak up the company of trees and watch our kid get mud on their boots.

My biggest challenge has been being physically separated from so many of my coworkers. We have such an amazing team, and I see how hard they work to support one another and meet our customers’ needs. I’m so used to stepping around a corner to thank them in person. I think every day about ways we can remove obstacles for them or offer some form of a thank you from afar. They are truly amazing. I highly recommend daily exercise, preferably outdoors! I am a recovering runner, and I love my spin bike, but in the last month I have made sure I incorporate at least one hike at a comfortable pace each day.

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We hoped you enjoyed hearing from some of our Label Experts that usually stay behind the scenes. We’ll be back soon with another volume of Work From Home Diaries!