Times have changed. We have all had to adjust to the "new normal" that COVID 19 has brought. We at ADKF, like so many others, have been working from home and coping with the challenges it brings. ADKF went from one remote employee, auditors at the clients' office, and a few that worked from satellite offices one day per week, to everyone working from home, all at once. Fortunately, we spent the last several years making changes in our processes and procedures which enabled us to mobilize our staff to home offices quickly when the pandemic hit. To learn how the staff is coping, we asked them to let us know how they feel working from home, and how this experience has affected their lives.
Most staff have adjusted well, and even enjoy the opportunity to work from home, and being closer to their family and pets. Tax Senior, Leslie Harris explained that she is most grateful for the family time. "We are hardly all home (at once) with nothing to do or nowhere to go. We've had more time for family time. This change has been a great physical and mental reset for my family. The kids have been able to relax a little more." Jennifer Graham, Tax Senior, loves getting cuddles from her cat Louie all day. While Tax Manager, Nancy Meza, CPA, loves her daily FaceTime call from her granddaughters. Still others are just enjoying the silence. "I'm loving it. It is so quiet at my house," says Tax Senior, Julia Sutton, CPA. Some have learned new things about their partners. Caleb Janysek, Audit Senior, has learned "that my girlfriend is a much better cook than I am and I'm glad she decided to quarantine with me."
Susan Jentsch, Tax Scheduler, eagerly expressed, "I absolutely love working from home…On a normal basis, I commute 50 miles per day, two hours in my car to and from work, and that is stressful. I love working from home as far as that aspect goes. Saving money on gas and saving time. Now, when I get off work, I am able to take my pup, Darwin, for a walk around the lake at my apartment and I am not "done" mentally and physically from the drive. …I get up and get dressed every day and of course, make my bed. They say making your bed is the first task you should do because then the other tasks all fall into place. It is quiet, but not too quiet, as my watchdog likes to talk to all the other pups and neighbors during the day. Working from home has given me the ability to still manage my workload while handling all of my personal business for my kids and my dad during the At Home Stay order. I am thankful that our firm has the means and opportunity to have us work from home during this uncertain time in our lives."
While everyone seems to have found a positive side to these new circumstances, there have still been many adjustments. Audit Manager Anette Barrera, CPA, tells us, "I miss working in teams and with staff at clients' offices. Every one-to-two weeks, we were in a different setting. So, I definitely miss the change of scenery." While Tax Senior Leslie Harris states it simply, "I miss my coworkers." Tax Director, Kelly Boswell, CPA shared, "There was a slight dip in productivity as we worked out the change to everyone working remotely. You didn't get the immediate response as you do in a face-to-face conversation or buzzing someone on the intercom. With everyone now working varying hours, depending on their home situation - small children, homeschooling, etc., we had to get used to asking a coworker a question and expecting that lag in the response."
Overall, it seems the least missed aspect of the daily grind, is traffic. Lisa Johnson, IT Director, jokes, "Well, the traffic's been great! The chef is impeccable… and I'm saving tons of money on hair product and makeup." Audit Manager, Anette Barrera, CPA, tells us, "My typical day starts off with not having to battle with daily traffic (which is probably one of my favorite things about working from home) and some home-brewed coffee. I always found myself having to rush every morning and never knowing whether my drive would be a 25-minute drive or a one-hour drive. So, starting off my days working from home are actually very relaxing now." Kelly Boswell, CPA, Tax Director, says, "I miss my coworkers and seeing clients in person. The one thing I don't miss, is the commute. I am putting the time saved from sitting on Hwy 281 daily, to good use, and studying for my CFE exam which is something I had been putting off."
We will begin phasing staff back into the office, if all goes well, in June. Until then, we will continue to work from home. During the phase-in, some will choose to remain working from home or the satellite offices on a permanent basis, regardless of the pandemic. Some things like our Monday morning meetings, now conducted on Microsoft Teams, monthly luncheons, etc., may never be the same. However, we will find a new normal. In the end, we want everyone to know, we are still here, working hard for our clients.