Week 3 of Jessica’s Journal

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The governor’s office reported this week that he was going to let the Stay-at-Home order expire at the end of the month. I started to think about how I would handle going back to the office soon if we’re able to.

The governor included strict checklists employers and employees would have to follow to go back to work. The checklist includes not exhibiting any symptoms of illness including coughing (hello, may I remind you we live in Central Texas, and it is allergy season?); diarrhea (TMI); and headache (really?). While the phase one plan doesn’t include offices with more than one person, I immediately see that they’ll probably require the same checklist when they allow regular companies to resume working together.

Here’s where I landed: I don’t really see how we can go back to work without violating people’s privacy and continuing to contribute to everyone feeling safe. As the state slowly starts to reopen everything, Hot Dog Marketing will continue to work from home until we can return to the office under safer more private circumstances. It’s too ambiguous to put so much authority on each employee to decide if their headache warrants them working from home or coming into the office. I don’t expect them to keep two active workstations set-up just in case.

I’ve heard from several business owners this week that they’re either downsizing their commercial real estate space or giving it up altogether now that they see how well working from home is going. I think the commercial real estate industry is about to take a huge hit which means businesses that serve that niche will need to start pivoting. For us, we’ll keep our Hot Dog Marketing office, but we also may not need to expand our office if more people can work from home. The challenge is to maintain and adapt company culture to suit this change. That’s something I’m going to be thinking through in the coming months.

An example of trying to stick to a plan and engage our team came up this week. Every quarter, I give a company update to the staff so they can see how we’re doing. We had an incredible first quarter. In my business plan, I had planned to do surprise waffle breakfasts or ice cream sundae bars – you know fun surprises to thank the team for helping us hit our goals. When your workforce is distributed, it’s difficult to do things like this obviously. I found a company to do work-from-home snack kits and will deliver them to each employee’s home. So, I did that instead. It was more expensive than an in-person treat, but the investment is worth it instead of putting off a celebration.

We successfully hosted a Hot Dog Marketing virtual happy hour last week too with online games. The team has requested more “social hours” so we’ll be working that into the program.

All-in-all, I think I’ve spent most of my focus making sure we retain some culture, connection, and some routine in the midst of all of this chaos. I’m hoping we get to put some definition around what the “new normal” will be soon so we can make some solid plans, but until then, I’ll keep playing it by ear.