Dispatches from the Home Office

I thought it would be fun to check in with people as some of us are knee-deep in the world of working remotely. And as people start talking about getting back to the office, here were some reflections on the whole working-from-home experience from some WLIA Board members:

Carmen Novak thought working from home was “peaceful and efficient for the most part, except for the pet interruptions and when the Wi-Fi flickers.” She had the same job, but also new responsibilities with the COVID-19 response and assisting other departments in accessing GIS services and solutions. Her biggest surprise was how quickly her day filled up with meetings!

Lauree Aulik had this to say: “I no longer have a commute and have gained lots of extra snuggle time with the babe.  I am able to watch the multitude of birds at the bird feeder while waiting for the Wheel of Death to finish its thing or Esri to reboot after crashing.  Sometimes a dog sits at my feet or a cat climbs into my lap as I make my way through some much needed GIS edits or emails.  It makes me think that the idea my former coworker and I had about having a mental health dog in the office would definitely have worked.  In general, social isolation isn’t too bad out here in the middle of nowhere.  I don’t think I am any more less productive than I would be in the office.  It still amazes me, though, how many times a day I can still be interrupted (work related) even while working remotely.”

Colleen Hermans still finds herself almost late for work sometimes. (I can relate.) And Jeremiah Erickson has had to change his hours instead to work the night shift. “Unexpected phone calls are even more of a surprise when they come after 11PM when you are working nights alone at the office.  You also get startled when you plotter goes off to start recycling ink after midnight, even if you believe the building being haunted is hogwash.”

Bryan Meyer is as busy as ever and is able to get out of the house with his surveying duties. “From an office perspective, we are seeing an increased volume of telephone calls and e-mails. I believe this is a product of many landowners having time at home to consider land ownership and title matters they have about their land. Our most frequent encouragement to many of them is to “GIS it” or Get ISurveyed! From a personal perspective, our four cats are still adjusting to my wife and I working from home. Three of them wonder why we aren’t focused on them during the day. They walk across my keyboard and lay on it or next to it. The other cat just thinks we are home to annoy her and keep her from napping. You can almost hear her thinking “Why are you people here?”” One of his office mates is in the picture above…

In Dane County, Fred Iausley has some style tips: “My daily commute has gone from 40 miles to 40 paces.  The daily attire is sweats and t-shirt for several days in a row.  I do put on a dress shirt for a conference call.  Shaving happens only when I can’t stand the look of the civil war general staring at me in the mirror.  Nobody at my home office understands/cares about data standards and the struggles of topology rules.  When the network goes down I just scream in silence.  Other than that, really nothing has changed at all.”

Sandy Disrud has had many issues to consider as a Register of Deeds. RealID has been pushed off, so those records aren’t in as high of demand, but documents are still coming in to record and she’s had to manage both an at-home staff and some workers in the office even though it’s closed to the public. It’s also an election year coming up for many offices, including Register of Deeds, so collecting signatures has had to muster some creativity without door-to-door collections or events. And now, a plan must be made for how the office will operate once it’s open again.

As for me, since I have a partner working at home who is also in the industry, our nightly complaining about technology has now turned into an all-day affair. The kids are dealing with their online schooling pretty well but thank goodness the weather got nicer because they’re starting to get on each others nerves. We’ve never been together as a family this long, so it’s been pretty interesting to see how this is panning out. I only miss my office sometimes and I’m sure my middle school son would like me out of his room – but with the only other good desk besides already-occupied office, he’s been a trooper about understanding the situation.

I hope this dispatch finds you all safe and healthy. If you’ve got thoughts about working from home, share in the comments!

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