The past year has been a challenging one (to say the very least). The Covid-19 pandemic significantly changed the way the world operates and created new information and logistical challenges for workers in all industries. Over the past year, working remote and socially distancing safely in the Paperless Environments office, our team has grown and learned a few things along the way. Even before we were accustomed to working from home or comfortable wearing facemasks, our team was positioned for success in the midst of a glooming global pandemic. We thought it would be helpful for other businesses to hear from our Vice President of Operations, J.P. Villaume, on some of those lessons learned along the way.
What was your gut reaction when Covid-19 began to spread and conversations about lockdown began?
My initial reaction was that the Covid-19 pandemic would be an event that will shape modern history, and I was very concerned about how unprepared the world was to face a crisis of this magnitude.
Was there a model or protocol for how to handle the pandemic internally? Did you guys know what you were doing when it all started?
We were prepared internally for natural disasters like hurricanes that occur each summer and had put the proper technology in place to allow our team to work remotely if needed. The pandemic just caused us to implement our disaster plan and to make some additional improvements to our technology solutions for web conference meetings and network access.
How did the lockdown affect the way Paperless Environments operated day to day?
Aside from having all meetings hosted virtually, the biggest adjustment for our team was learning how to be more collaborative while not in the same physical space with each other. Our creativity and productivity actually thrived during the first 6 months of the Covid pandemic. Everyone learned how to be accountable for their areas of responsibility and our overall communications as a company improved greatly.
How did you communicate and show support for team members while they worked from home?
We made it a focus to check on each other, especially when some of our team members were diagnosed with Covid along the way. We also planned additional meetings to try to keep everyone connected more. We really utilized Slack chat often to just have fun, to keep things light, and to keep each other updated on one another. At each of our Monday corporate meetings, our Department Leaders would give an update on their teams and identify those team members facing specific Covid-related challenges.
Were there any defining moments where you felt proud of yourself and your team?
The way our team took care of our customers during Covid when their teams needed to work remotely was very memorable and rewarding as a leader. I was proud of them and their work. I was also proud to see our team work to support each other and to find ways to stay as socially connected as possible while working remotely.
What other lessons did you take away from the pandemic?
The biggest takeaway for me was just how much the distractions of our normal lives can affect the workplace, team morale, patience with each other, and productivity. As we are transitioning back to normal life, we have had to remind ourselves not to forget the focus and success we had during one of the most challenging times in our lives.