Exploring the possibilities for the New Year is an exciting time. For lean organizations, it’s also a time to evaluate our operations and processes – making sure that we’re meeting the needs of our clients, and our most critical asset, our employees.
When COVID-19 forced everyone into siloed environments, it changed the way workers at small and large organizations operated. For many of us, that included adapting our workstations into joint use ones – kitchen tables transformed into the phone booth, school classrooms, and office space. This alternative use is a familiar description to David Swidler, program manager at Shift.
“I tried to share an office space with my wife, but it’s hard for two people to be on a call in the same room,” Swidler shared. “I ended up using our dining room table.”
Unable to go to the office, David found an alternative solution – working from his mom’s basement.
“My mom lives a few neighborhoods over, and I can get to it very easily,” David said. “Shift offered to pay for coworking spaces, but this works well for me.”
Even prior to the pandemic, countless articles have pointed to the need for a dedicated working space, citing that it is a critical to an employee’s success. In a remote environment, this rings even more true. Shift recognized this early on, and we supported the changing work environment in many ways, including establishing guidelines around flexible working schedules and incorporating additional computer hardware to accommodate the virtual workplace.
Director of Operations Erin Moore has worked remotely at Shift since starting with the organization in 2018. In fact, she’s spent the past 10 years working remotely – so adapting to a new environment wasn’t a challenge for her. Instead, the challenge was adapting to working with an entirely remote team.
“When the whole team went remote, it was overwhelming,” Erin said. “All of the sudden I had a full schedule of meetings and was expected to be on camera all the time. Everyone was trying to force fit an in-person company into a virtual existence, and it just didn’t work.”
Thankfully, after a few months of living a “new normal,” the Shift team adjusted to an all-remote environment. This time also coincided with the internal work Shift was doing to ensure equitable working practices.
“We all have very different life circumstances and priorities,” Erin said. “Equity doesn’t mean that everyone gets the same thing — it’s working to ensure that everyone gets what they need for their unique situation or circumstance.”
Through our culture work with CoCreate Work, we’ve learned to examine our own systems and see what processes are in place that has or could lead to inequities.
“Do you get $200 a year to subsidize your Wifi? Or do you get $200 a month if you want to go to a coworking space? This isn’t equal, but these are the challenges we’re grappling with,” Erin said. “For us, it comes down to supporting the best work environment for each individual person on the team, and understanding that their needs will vary.”
As we continue to look ahead to 2022, Shift employees understand that COVID-19 has changed how we work. Erin points to the future as being “hybrid.” Likewise, David predicts that in-person interactions will be key moving forward.
“I hope that in 2022, we’ll do some things in-person, like sitting in a room with coworkers and having conversations,” David shared. “I also hope Shift’s future means appreciating all that we didn’t get to do in 2020 and in 2021.”