The one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdown has come and gone, inspiring many of us to reflect on the impact of this past year. We checked in with several of our BGSF consultants to see how they were personally and professionally impacted by the pandemic and where they stand now as we look toward a future past COVID.
The shutdown was abrupt for many of us, including our consultants. Most were first told that their offices would be going through deep cleaning, quickly followed by an announcement that they would not be returning. At this point, a few had gone back to get some of their things, but they wished they had more time to prepare as they would have brought home files, documents, etc. when they first went remote.
The “Work from Home” Transition
The biggest change for everyone was, of course, working from home full time. While some employees had previously held remote positions and were prepared with home offices, others had to take the time to get situated with new computer monitors and to get set up on the client’s network.
The initial transition was met with some connectivity issues, but overall, there was a smooth changeover regarding communication and working virtually with their colleagues.
“We were very lucky because we had Teams set up beforehand and everyone communicates very well through that.”
Each consultant also expressed that their output did not change much at all during this transition. In fact, they found that their productivity actually increased across their teams because they felt less burdened by the daily commute and less distracted by office interruptions.
“Our team has been just as productive, if not more so. I have found myself to be quite productive and I believe my team members feel the same.”
Consequently, some of their workloads increased, and their hours slowly extended due to the blur between work and home life. But overall, they each had a positive outlook on working remotely and expressed that they would be interested in a hybrid (working from home 2-3 days a week) as we slowly move back to the office.
“My biggest hope is that coming out of this, managers will recognize that you don’t have to physically be together in a certain location to be productive.”
The discussion of relationships emerged as we examined their current team dynamics. Many missed the everyday, personal interactions and the ease at which they could communicate if they were in the same location. However, they believed moving to virtual interactions went smoother than anticipated because they had established relationships with their colleagues in person, having worked with their clients for at least two years before the shutdown.
“We have virtual meetings twice a week to stay connected and we do leave time to talk about our daily lives.”
So, while personal interactions have clearly changed, some felt better prepared for this transformation because they had begun these relationships in person. One consultant even noted that they couldn’t imagine coming into a completely virtual situation without being able to physically meet anyone on their team.
Each consultant maintains that their transition to remote work was fairly straightforward, and many attribute that to the support they received from the clients and BGSF.
“I actually had COVID in November, but I was given enough support from the client, who allowed me to be flexible in my hours. This made me feel appreciated and pushed me to get back to work as soon as I could.”
“Jacqui [my BGSF Client Engagement Manager] has been great. She is always asking if we need anything.”
“BGSF was extremely supportive, especially Kristen [my BGSF Client Engagement Manager]. My wife has pulmonary issues and when I reached out, explaining I couldn’t put her at risk, Kristen spoke with my manager so I could work remotely before everything actually shut down.”
“I received the best support from Jacqui [my BGSF Client Engagement Manager]. She checked in once or twice a week when this first started. She’s very helpful and will even reach out on weekends.”
The COVID shutdown upended our lives and challenged us in a way we could have never prepared for. But from the chaos has come new realizations about the way we function as a workforce, what is possible when we need to rely on new technologies and processes, and has highlighted the support we give to one another when navigating new challenges. We are excited to see a future past COVID and curious what that will look like for us, our clients, and our consultants.