After several months of uncertainty, “normalcy” looks to be right around the corner. With vaccines being rolled out and restrictions being lifted, many companies are looking forward to opening their doors and welcoming employees back. The Execu|Search Group is definitely one of them! As we explore a hybrid remote and in-person environment post Labor Day, we wanted to check in with some of our employees to see what they’ve been up to and how they feel about the transition back to the office.
What has working from home been like for you?
Eric Vaheb (Director, Financial Services): The transition to remote work was seamless due to our web-based technology platforms. However, it was a difficult adjustment at times. In our field, we really value the natural interactions we have with our colleagues, as well as the professionals and employers we partner with. Working in a remote environment certainly made this more challenging, and we had to get creative with how we fostered these relationships. Personally, the transition was also difficult. While it was nice to be able to roll out of bed and start my work day without a commute, I don’t have a dedicated spot in my apartment for working. My kitchen counter became where my entire life revolved for the entirety of COVID-19, and cabin fever definitely became an issue.
Jaime Slodyzcka (Senior Director, Human Resources & Administration): Working from home was definitely an adjustment, but a good one. I was three months pregnant when everything shut down in March 2020. Working from home for my entire pregnancy was busy and overwhelming, but also rewarding because it gave me more flexibility for doctor’s appointments and helped me ensure I was taking the best possible care of myself. Getting back to work after maternity leave in a remote capacity has presented new challenges, but has also allowed me to be there for my daughter everyday (with the help of family members)! Now that my daughter is 9 months old, working from home has become much more challenging. She is on the move and constantly wants attention or is getting into things she shouldn’t. I have full-time help on work days, but sometimes even that isn’t enough.
Komal Mody (Senior Director, Legal Services): These past 15 months have been a real hoot, huh?!? I had baby number two just a few days before the pandemic,and I expected to return to work in May 2020. Clearly, I was very wrong! Working from home with two kids under three was challenging at first to say the least, but I was thankful to have a nanny who took charge. Things have gotten MUCH better now that the kids are in full-time day care, and I don’t have to hide myself in my bedroom to work!
How has your productivity been impacted by the transition to remote work?
Eric: Remote work has not always been great for my productivity because I do better in a structured environment. There’s something about being at an office, especially in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, that motivates me to work harder. This is just my personal experience though. I know plenty of colleagues who have boosted their productivity at home! I’m just the kind of person who rises to the occasion when I’m surrounded by great people, and being at home alone provides a different experience that I’ve had to adjust to.
Jaime: I feel really accomplished, but productivity looks a little different to me than it did prior to the pandemic! Having a child to care for has required me to change my schedule a bit. When I can’t log onto my computer first thing in the morning or need to take a break to prepare meals in the middle of the day, I make sure to catch up later in the evening when most people are done for the day. This has worked well for me because it allows me to work during times when I can focus best, as well as catch up on emails and administrative tasks I need to complete. Also, being able to monitor emails on my phone means I will never miss a beat.
Komal: Working from home from the same bedroom with my husband who has 1000+ conference calls a day (no joke and while ON SPEAKER) proved to be challenging at first, but we quickly learned to adapt to each other’s work styles. With Execu|Search’s help, I was able to get the proper equipment and support I needed to be just as productive at home.
What do you think is the biggest benefit of working from home?
Eric: The biggest benefit of being at home is that it adds so many hours back to your day. There’s something to be said about giving employees autonomy over how to manage their day, and trusting them to use their time effectively. Since this naturally gives way to more flexibility, this can help many people be more productive.
I had a manager who managed us with a similar philosophy, and it’s always stuck with me. He would say,“I only ask of you to do 6 hours of solid work every day. For some people, it takes 8 hours to do 6 hours of good work. For others, 12 hours at a desk will result in 6 hours of work.” The mentality that productivity looks different for different people has helped me so much during the pandemic. Since the meaning behind that is to spend as much (or as little time) as it takes to feel accomplished, I was able to devote more time to myself. For example, I was able to hop away from the desk for a quick at-home workout, which would have felt like an impossibility prior to the pandemic.
Jaime: The flexibility. As I mentioned earlier, I am a first time mom with a 9 month old daughter. Being able to work from home for nearly the first year of her life has let me be there for every milestone she goes through. It is also great not having to fight the traffic and the hectic commute. This gives me more time to spend with family, which is very important to me.
Komal: The biggest benefit is I have extremely easy access to nonstop snacks. But truthfully, I am obsessed with my kids and it has been such a blessing to be able to spend an extra hour or two a day with them. Plus, my computer is always on, so if I need to send a quick email or draft an interview prep, it takes less than 5 seconds to log back in!
How do you feel about going back to the office (at least for a couple days a week)?
Eric: It’s honestly been amazing to be back in the office because it feels extremely motivating. I find my days flying by because I am able to be super focused on my work, and in our business, productivity translates to take-home pay. On days when a lot of my team or colleagues are in the office, their energy helps me perform better. Being surrounded by other people has truly helped my mental health and productivity levels.
Jaime: I am ready to return to the office a few days a week. For the past couple of months, I have been going into the office once a week for a change of scenery and to find some true focus. I think adding an extra day come September will be beneficial. I don’t think we should ever lose the flexibility of being able to work from home at least a couple of days a week, but it is time to get back into the office and collaborate in-person with our colleagues and friends!
Komal: I miss my work family dearly and am so excited to see all of them again soon. Let’s go, folks!!!