Last year I wrote about remote working. I was wrong.

Almost a year into the pandemic, here’s my new advice.

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By
Cisco DeVries
-
February 9, 2021

As the pandemic arrived and the world moved to remote work, I wrote a short blog post with advice for newly remote workers and CEOs. OhmConnect has been almost fully remote since early 2019, and I felt that the experience lent me insights that would be helpful as other companies made the same crash transition.

Well, mea culpa time. It turns out that a remote workforce in a “normal” world is pretty different from the locked-in-my-basement-for-months-on-end during the apocalypse version of remote work we are experiencing now. 

I hope the end of this pandemic is coming into view, but just in case, here is what I wish I’d written back back in April.

  • Wear whatever the hell you want. Back in April, I made a smug comment about how people should wear pants for zoom calls. Oh good grief, what a cringe. PJs, jeans, shorts… who even cares anymore? Wear some sort of shirt and get your job done! The rest is between you and the people who you share a household with. My 5th grade son has worn only pajamas for the past several months. Initially, I was horrified. Now, he’s kind of my role model.
  • Stick to (recyclable) individually wrapped candies when binging. I’m done with almonds. Don’t even with the baby carrots or pumpkin seeds. The best I can do is slow my candy roll. I’ve learned to avoid treats that can be eaten directly out of the bag by the handful. I can do five handfuls of gummy bears per minute while staring mindlessly at my inbox. Much better to have individually wrapped candy -- like Hershey Kisses. It’s like driving down a road with speed bumps: you need to slow down to get the wrapper off before eating it. No big mindless handfuls = healthy living! (The best part about Hershey’s Kisses? The foil is recyclable! No single-use plastic here.)
  • Sometimes, just make a regular old phone call. I’m so tired of Zoom that I’ve tried to convince people to have phone conversations with me. Do you remember back when you could fold laundry or just pace back and forth while on a never ending conference call? I didn’t realize it was possible to think of conference calls as part of the “good old days,” but here we are. One of my colleagues and I have an unwritten agreement: when it is just the two of us, we ignore the zoom link and just make a call. Bliss!
candy packages in front of monitors and a laptop for a remote working enrvironment

Fun aside, this has been a truly horrible year. We have experienced a pandemic, a divisive and difficult election, social unrest, wildfires, blackouts, a recession, and a long overdue reckoning with our country’s legacy of racism. We are schooling our kids at home and double washing our groceries. Simply put, the tools I used to navigate life before COVID now seem naive. 

My company found a way through this minefield, and I’m incredibly grateful for my privileged position and my team’s ability to adapt. Our success has turned much more on understanding and caring than on any silly work norms. Our clothing choices have, frankly, been irrelevant.

What has mattered is the time we took to share a moment of silence for those we lost or the hour where we talked about how we are processing the unimaginable. What mattered was time off to care for a scared child or to check in with an elderly parent. What mattered was that it was OK to cry. What mattered was that we took care of each other. 

Flexibility, humor, and understanding is what got me through this past year. I think that is what got my company through it as well. (Well, that -- and a lot of Cheez-its.)

This pandemic will end, and OhmConnect will happily remain a remote company. Our workforce is now even more spread out across North America. But still, the thing I’m most looking forward to is getting the team together for an in-person retreat again. We used Zoom to “see” each other this past year, but after everything we’ve been through together, it is long past time for the real thing.

See you all on the other side. 

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