Summer of 2020 is likely to be remembered as “the lost summer,” when vacation plans and lifestyles were put on hold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As telework continues in its 5th month here at AINS, we’ve asked AINS employees to describe how they make the most of these sun-filled days.
How did you spend your 4th of July weekend?
“Relocated up to the Berkshires in Massachusetts for the weekend with my kids, wife and parents. Have continued to stay here for another week working from our home in the mountains.”
– Michael Eidelkind, Senior Program Manager
Of the 19 respondents to this question, 40 percent chose to stay home for the 4th of July. However, plenty of employees still used the holiday as a time to get away—destinations included Deep Creek, Annapolis, the Berkshires in MA, and Branson, MO. Rather than beaches, AINS employees opted for remote cabins, mountain ranges, and bike trails. Only two respondents specifically mentioned viewing fireworks over the holiday.
But despite the setbacks, 60 percent of respondents still found ways to spend time with family and friends—even from a distance. One respondent “had a viewing party (over FaceTime) of Hamilton,” while others attended cookouts, family gatherings, and dinner on the water.
How have your summer plans changed as a result of COVID-19?
“[Our] son goes to camp for a month and [my] wife and I loved that time to be empty-nesters. Just spending time with friends or enjoying the outdoors and getting vacations is now limited to family trips and things that evolve the outdoors.”
– Barry Shay, Server Engineer
75 percent of respondents mentioned cancelled plans and vacations this summer. However, many noted making the most of limited activities by spending more time outdoors and with close family. Subject Matter Expert and Business Analyst Hodford Brown said, “For now we do more local outdoor adventures with the family,” and Senior Program Manager Michael Eidelkind noted that he has “never spent so much time on [his] backyard deck. If you can’t go on a nice vacation you might as well enjoy what you have right nearby.”
What impact has telework had on your work?
“Teleworking has been great! I was a little concerned at first being able to reach the managers I support in a timely manner, however utilizing the combination of email, phone, and skype has created an environment equally as good as sitting at my desk at HQ.”
– Brian McCloskey, Recruiting Manager
40 percent of respondents mentioned a positive impact from telework, while 25 percent saw little to no change from working in the office. 30 percent of respondents also claimed productivity as being equal to or higher than working in the office.
Top employee complaints included connectivity issues, lack of interaction with colleagues, and the blurred lines between work and home life. One employee remarked that “certain collaborative projects are most effectively completed when working together in person,” while another employee noted that “we all (including the clients) already used teleworking and Google Meets regularly, so it has been an easy, seamless transition to full-time telework.”
When the time comes, what do you look forward to about returning to the office?
“Seeing my colleagues and clients. Also, the food trucks [in DC].”
– James Wilkins, Senior Project Manager
Seeing coworkers was the number one office benefit that AINS employees missed, with 75 percent of respondents saying they looked forward to face-to-face interaction. Specifically, employees pinpointed to better communication at the office. As one employee observed, “The pandemic has really highlighted how face-to-face interactions are generally taken for granted.”
However, employees also noted some small disadvantages to returning to office work. “I will miss walking the dog at lunch time,” said Server Engineer Barry Shay.
Do you have any tips for summer social distancing?
“Masks are available at Wish.com, but can take a month or two to get to you.”
– Tom Jackson, Systems Engineer/.NET Developer
65 percent of employees mentioned wearing a mask in public. A recent study by the CDC demonstrates the efficacy of widespread use of masks in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Other employees mentioned following CDC guidelines, limiting public interaction to small groups, washing hands often, and staying at home as much as possible. Software Tester Kirsten Ostrom advises everyone to “get outside to parks and walking trails. Usually it is a huge space so you do not have to consciously think about distancing, it happens naturally.”
When returning to work, Software Engineer Sen Zhan recommends “…[using] A/B group to keep the social distancing. Some people go to the office two times per week, others go three times per week.” AINS employees generally agree that practicing social distancing is important. “Just do it. Slow the spread,” says Senior Implementation Specialist Denise Viola.