NEW YORK, (June 29, 2020) – Shelley Tanner, SanovaWorks CEO/President
Diary of a Remote Worker
Continuing with our Diary of a Remote Worker series, my longtime colleague and friend, Signe Philstrand gives her best survival tips on being a remote worker, and some extra insight and inspiration for our mental health during this pandemic.
Signe Philstrand, Vice President
What is your speciality at work? Do you have a super power? Brag on yourself.
My job is to support the employees of our company in any way that will benefit them, and move us toward product and company goals. This comes in many forms, be it creating or refining processes, removing obstacles, coaching, training, mentoring, motivating, strategizing approach of projects, making decisions, developing strengths, creating plans to achieve goals, organizing initiatives, upholding morale and company culture, steering toward company strategy–and anything else that arises. My base goal is that people on our staff actually like their jobs, and truly enjoy working for our company, and can be proud of our company. When you have that everything else can fall into line.
Who is your work hero or shero? What is their superpower?
It would have to be Shelley. She really is the epitome of a fearless leader. I know that term is thrown around, but it is the perfect description of her. She is the reason that all of us are here, and that this company is so successful. Period. She’s a pillar.
How has life during the pandemic changed for you? Stayed the same?
As we have been remote for many years, work has not changed a bit in that aspect. We were fortunate to have time to plan and then to hone our remote processes over the years, and we have it down to a science. I can’t imagine all of these companies having to adopt it overnight. I truly believe it is how many companies should be operating, even when this pandemic is over, but it does take planning and effort to make it work right. Outside of the workweek, even though everything is pretty much open, we rarely go out to anywhere public that is inside. We go to the beach minimum several times a week, and ride our bikes, and fish–we always have spent a lot of time outside but now more so, as there is nowhere else to go!
What do you miss the most about life pre-pandemic?
Not wearing a mask! I feel like I am one of the few people in FL that is not opposed to wearing one though. I don’t like wearing one, but I do it because we should. Simple as that. And, I miss live music! A summer without summer concerts and festivals is strange, but they will be back at some point, and we will enjoy them even more. I’ll never take them for granted again.
What challenges have you and/or your family faced during the pandemic?
Again, super fortunate that my job hasn’t been affected, and my husband has a home watch company, keeping an eye on empty houses for snowbirds and second homeowners, so his job is not affected either. The challenges I have faced are what everyone faces: confusion, frustration, irritation, bewilderment, the feeling of it being like a movie, which has worn off now though, and I’m just left with the wondering of what’s the best thing to do, when will this all be over, and what will life look like in the future?
What’s your best advice for those people who are brand new to remote work?
Keep in contact with your team, meet regularly ON VIDEO. Also–train the people you live with that when you are working, you are working. Just as if you were not there and in an office across town. Yes, on the couch or at the kitchen table or on the lanai–you are at work.
What are your top 3 remote worker survival tips?
1) Set crystal clear expectations 2) Organize your online drives so everyone knows where everything is and where everything should be 3) Establish regular status updates and check-ins. And did I mention keep in contact and meet ON VIDEO? Phone calls won’t do it. You have to have the regular facetime in order for it to really work. If you’re not used to it, make yourself get used to it. It’s a key factor in successful remote working.
What have you mastered about working remote – that you had challenges with at the start – or saw a better way to do?
As I talked about in my best advice above–I’ve learned to train the people in my life that just because I am working at home, I am “at work.” I learned to have a strong resolve about it as it’s natural to keep chatting to someone who is in the house with you, and it’s hard to concentrate when someone is doing that. I’ve also learned to sit in places where no one will be walking around behind me, as that can be distracting to others when you are in video meetings. And I move around a lot. I have a number of “work areas” and I like to get a change of scenery. It’s sooo nice to be able to work outside. Take advantage of that perk. Also, regularly get up and stretch, get the blood moving, go outside for a short walk–don’t sit all day.
What are you reading for enrichment or just for fun? Work or non-work?
I just started Gathering of Waters, by Berenice McFadden, from a recommendation. I read a chapter of Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron almost every day because it helps to keep me sane and I like the short readings. And when I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep, to distract myself I will read You Think It, I’ll Say It, short stories by Curtis Sittenfeld. Then up next is White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo. It was on back order at Amazon, but it just shipped.
What’s on the menu? What are your favorite foods that you are indulging in or purely enjoying during this virus spring?
Mangoes are in season and we’ve been eating a lot of them…so good. Our usual fare is fish, which we’re eating even more now as fishing is a good pastime when you’re not going anywhere inside or in crowds. And we live on peel and eat shrimp, another staple.
Speaking of self care, what do you do to reward yourself after a long week or a personal or professional success?
I love a glass or two of Pinot Noir on Friday evenings, right after work. Since the pandemic started and restaurants became a no-no, my neighbors have been meeting in driveways in beach chairs spread apart for cocktail hour, so nowadays I can usually pour a glass and wander outside and find some company to share it with. It puts a period to the end of the week. Or starts the weekend, however you want to look at it. Weekends = beach, and that’s where we unwind and relax. You can always keep driving and find some empty area away from others to put your umbrella.
What is in your Netflix, [Hulu, Amazon, AppleTV, etc.] queue? What are your recommendations? Why?
Netflix: Dead to Me (I love both of those girls); Never Have I Ever (If you love Mindy, that show is so Mindy); Tom Papa – You’re Doing Great (He is so hilarious, probably one of my favorites); I Am Not Okay With This (It’s so great, just try it); Dark (Season 3 just started–if you watch you have to watch it in its original German and read the subtitles, don’t do the dubbing!)
How do you stay positive?
See my answer to self-care above. Kidding! Being outside; Being some-sort-of-active; Meditation.
What are you most grateful for right now?
I am grateful now and always, that Kurt and I like to spend so much time together. I hear of people saying that the divorce rate is going to go up because of Covid. We are the opposite, we are glad for the excuse to just hang out together, the two of us. I’m also grateful for our amazing company and the people in it. I am impressed daily. I am grateful I am one of the people that still has a job, as so many had the bottom fall out beneath them unexpectedly. And I am grateful my colleagues, family, and friends are healthy.
Any other shout outs or closing thoughts?
A shout out to our whole SanovaWorks team–staff members and contractors–each are top pros in their area, and it shows. Our team is incredibly strong and tight. This group has worked together for many years and we know how to work together well. With the changes to our industry that the pandemic has brought, everyone has had to step up to the plate to help fill in gaps. We are so thankful and fortunate to work with the sort of people that can and will do that!