Reflections from Indy: Week 1 of ‘The New Normal’
After two months of adjusting – scooting desks around, hanging artwork, and figuring out where we put all the things when we moved – we were nearly settled in at our new northside Indianapolis office. Then, on March 13, Dan gathered the team to announce that we would be working from home for the foreseeable future.
With schools closing, and “social distancing” becoming a necessity, working remotely was a logical next step for us. We grabbed what we needed for our home workstations and exchanged our usual have-a-nice-weekends and see-you-laters. At the time, no one thought “later” might mean “in two months.”
The 14-Person Teleconference
Our game plan for week 1 was this: We would have a morning kickoff call and end-of-day wrap-up call every day, and we would communicate via Slack and text message throughout the day, as needed. Seemed easy enough. But have you ever been in a 14-person virtual meeting?
Our Monday morning call was a learning experience. Some people joined the video meeting via laptop; some people did not want to be seen in their pajamas and dialed-in instead. Slack messages ensued:
“I just got kicked out of the meeting.”
“I can’t get in. Is there an access code?”
“Wait – there’s a limit on the number of participants,” said the moderator. “Everybody hang up. We’ll set up another meeting and send a new invite.”
A few moments passed – just enough time to reheat a cup of coffee in the microwave. Then the new meeting invite appeared, and we began clumsily filing in.
Everyone said “Hello?” at least twice. Some people accidentally muted themselves. A pair of cockatiels chirped happily in the background. Someone placed their headphones too close to their microphone, creating a horrifying echo. We persevered. By Tuesday morning, we were teleconferencing like champions.
New Clients and Urgent Needs
We’ve always been an agile team, but this week demanded more flexibility than we even knew we had. We were launching websites, onboarding new Indianapolis clients, and helping our clients adapt to a rapidly changing environment, without the luxury of immediate face-to-face communication. But hunkered down in our home offices, spread out across hundreds of miles – from Lafayette to Muncie to Greenwood and points in between – we accomplished our goals, and we made clients happy.
On Fridays, we usually have an informal team chat that’s not about work. We exchange anecdotes, we laugh a lot, and then we get back to work. In this first week of uncertainty, we kept that tradition alive in a 2 p.m. teleconference.
We don’t know when we’ll be back in our office. We don’t know when we’ll be able to swap funny stories on a Friday afternoon. But we know we have what it takes to keep delivering on our promises to our clients.