The New Norm – Longevity’s Working Environment in the Era of Social Distancing

Read Time: 3 minutes
Philip Way

“Good morning. Can you guys hear me and see my screen?” opening statements like this have become our first interaction at the start of our workday, with a hot cup of coffee in our hands.

Unless you are a caveman, you have probably heard of the novel coronavirus or SARS-COV-2, which causes COVID-19. At the time of this writing, the United States is leading the world and reaching grim milestones in the number of infections and fatalities[1]. This highly transmissible while mystifying virus is not only challenging the dynamics of public health, but is also shifting America’s labor force and altering our daily lives.

While over 30.3 million Americans (or 18.6% of the US labor force) have filed coronavirus-driven unemployment claims in the last six weeks[2], Longevity Consulting has stood firmly as a leading veteran, minority-owned, small disadvantaged business in the DMV area. Longevity’s top performing, highly engaged team of professionals, coupled with its robust, innovative, cutting edge tools and technology solutions, is securing steady business growth, and attracting more business partnerships as the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly around the globe.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Longevity already offered its employees remote working options. This flexible workplace policy has attributed to high employment retention in the last five years. Under the CDC’s social distancing guidelines, the surge of telecommuting has been simplified by our employees’ familiarity with a widely used suite of technology products (e.g., JIRA, Smartsheet, SharePoint) and videoconferencing tools (e.g., Microsoft Teams), making file-sharing, collaboration, project tracking, work reporting structure, communication, and role assignment fun and easy. Our continuous investment (financially and culturally) in information technology and employees’ well-being has maintained Longevity’s unwavering legacy, as the nation is shaken by its economic turmoil.

 

Has telework become the new norm?

Is working from home a new norm moving forward? My guess is yes, at least in the immediate future. Even if quarantine restrictions loosen up in certain parts of the country in the next few months, health officials may enact equivalent if not more stringent mitigation measures so long as local transmissions persist. Nonetheless, teleworking is not comprised of just benefits or one-size-fits-all strategies. There are considerable challenges associated with this emerging policy both in house and on the client’s side.

Will our federal clients who firmly believed that only employees’ presence at a desk cubicle would guarantee productivity embrace the idea of teleworking? Will program managers at Longevity, with potentially months of managing a remote team feel confident that they will get enough support from team members?

 

How do we work and connect?

Longevity has consistently adopted flexible workplace arrangements as key to increasing employee motivation and promoting work/life balance while managing all projects efficiently and effectively. This is evidenced in two virtual onboarding sessions this week, where each new team member learned the culture, mission, and structure of our company, and a tailored introduction for project descriptions and understanding, work assignment, roles, responsibilities, reporting hierarchies, strategic statements, history and culture of our federal client. Then, a program advisor emailed each new member a customized letter to say, “Welcome aboard!”

We have also tackled telework challenges by stockpiling remote work management resources. For example, we have been using Smartsheet and JIRA software to define each day how and where our most critical work gets done. In addition, we developed a series of template sets such as project charter, milestone tracking tools, work breakdown structure, process improvement, and business optimization. Lastly, we established tiered electronic quality checks, draft review structures, and version controls before sending our final deliverables to our clients. These streamlined business processes have equipped our team with monitored, consistent, and peer-reviewed products and delivered clear and concise communications to our business partners.

Aside from those strategies used to combat the challenges of the pandemic, our team has stayed connected to offer each other emotional support. Earlier this month, we met at a virtual happy hour on Zoom videoconference. We shared our shelter-in-place anecdotes and sentiments, and discussed creative ideas to cope with the COVID-19 crisis. While some stories were sobering, others were uplifting and humorous. At the end of a long work week, we all deserve to have a little fun. Although we are actively practicing social distancing to stay safe, we have found ways to bring each other closer spiritually, to express encouragement and care.

 

To learn more about Longevity Consulting, visit the firm’s About Us page or connect to our Careers page to check for open positions.

[1] Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, “COVID-19 Dashboard.”, https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html (accessed April 30, 2020).

[2] Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, Civil Labor Force Level (Number in Thousands), on the Internet at https://data.bls.gov/timeseries (visited April 30, 2020).