Jenny Jarose is the Sr. Director, Human Resources & Administration at LTi. She has been working with LTi’s Human Resources Department in the Omaha, Nebraska office for seven years.
In this Employee Spotlight, Jenny Jarose discusses her one year reflection on COVID-19 at LTi and what the company has been doing to lead its employees through the pandemic.
March 16, 2020 – One year reflection
The ‘two-week’ working from home hiatus we thought we were undertaking is now a year old. This is almost unthinkable. Everything we knew is now different. Each of us had to learn how to live in the new state of the world. In addition, juggling family and work life, homeschooling, and navigating through the scares and tragedies related to the pandemic. All in the same place, with lines blurred like never before.
We are still who we were then but living in a ‘new normal’. Working from home is now normal. Masks and social distancing are now normal. Connecting with others via Teams and other video call resources is now normal. Missing the simplicity of how life was before is now normal. With the changes in society, at home, and at work, what have we learned about ourselves in the last year?
We are RESILIENT
Work has changed, drastically. It changed so fast, almost overnight. We went from hardly anyone working from home to everyone working from home in less than a week. For some, it might have been a fun change for a little while but then honestly it became hard. Never changing your environment became hard. Homeschooling kids and working at the same time was hard. Helping others in the household deal with the shift became hard. Missing your ‘old life’ was hard. Learning to work differently became hard. This societal shift was not easy, but somehow here we are. We pushed through and we are here today more productive than we were before. We are masters at juggling priorities, as we never have been before. We should look back at this one year reflection and see all we have conquered. We should realize that what we have accomplished is incredible.
We are FLEXIBLE
There used to be certain anxiety when you needed a couple of hours off to take your children to the dentist. The perception that ‘working from home’ wasn’t necessarily a positive one all the time. Even if we promoted ‘work/life balance’. We would personally promote that balance, but also carry personal guilt for being gone. Understanding we have things that may impact our days and bleed into our workday was sometimes a struggle. That’s not how work was created and breaking those stereotypes as an organization is difficult. Moreover, we believe that the pandemic pushing us home has taught us to give each other a little grace. Work is when we are working, no matter the time of day or night. Home is home when we are doing things for our family, no matter the time of day or night. We’re more flexible as individuals with one another.
We are EMPATHETIC
We’re empathetic with one another when things arise that are personal and need to be addressed. We no longer feel anxiety about picking our kids up from school or needing to leave early to drop them off at practice. We know that we’re given that grace now. It is the norm and not the exception. We feel supported and understood. We no longer feel like we’re being scrutinized for stepping out if needed. Some days this is just too hard, and we know that is okay too. That freedom is empowering. Furthermore, working is easier when we are empathetic with one another. We all have outside family priorities that we need to feel empowered to handle. Because family is first. Our work will be done. We will handle our priorities. Sometimes, our best work is at 9:30pm when the kids are in bed. We are grateful to have that ability.
We CRAVE our CULTURE
LTi has tried to provide fun activities to participate in remotely. Everyone loves a good food truck. But, let’s get real – that’s not a replacement for working in the same space as we did before. Humans are social. It’s hard to be social when we never see each other. There’s only so much conversation you can have on a video call, and happy hour calls lost their luster months ago. Additionally, we know our people miss being in the office. They miss their interactions, co-workers, and the fun that goes on throughout the day that we all took for granted. One silver lining, for those that look forward to it each week, is our virtual Bingo. It’s been a fun way to spur some friendly competition and banter with co-workers we haven’t seen in a while!
We are HUMAN and we are IMPERFECT
This is hard and nobody is very good at this. We are not meant to live in a world like it is today, but we are. We are living through a period of time that will be in textbooks. In some respects, the world that we knew before will never be back. Do you ever see clips of an old sports game and feel weird about seeing crowds together with no masks? What will that look like post-COVID? What will work look like post-COVID? What will our kids’ lives be like at school? None of us has ever had to deal with something like this before. No modern generation has had to manage a pandemic to the scale that we are managing today. As a society, we are learning and as individuals, we are learning. Every day is a new day. So as we look back on our one year reflection, remember it’s okay that we are not good at navigating this. Just as we are giving each other grace to be human, let’s give each other some grace when we fail. Let’s learn together. Let’s find what that new normal looks like. Let’s imperfectly walk through this challenge and figure out what we need going forward to be successful as people.
One year reflection and looking forward to the here and now
Lastly, we have much to be thankful for and proud of as look back at this one year reflection. We do have a way to go. We aren’t at the finish line yet but we are hopefully seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. How fun will it be to shape how we do work and to have the flexibility to work where and how we each work best? It should be exciting to watch it unfold.