Productivity During a Pandemic

By Deb Martin - Senior Project Manager, ARIN

As the world battles COVID-19, millions of us are posted up at home, doing what we can to help stop the spread of the virus. While we’re at home, we’re trying our hardest to continue life as normal, and that includes doing our jobs. Like many of you are right now, I’m sitting in my home office, juggling Zoom meetings, emails, Slack messages, and everything in between, having not seen my coworkers in person for months. It’s been hard—and I won’t sugarcoat it, it’ll continue to be hard—but there have been some bright spots that I wanted to share.

The pandemic hits

As the pandemic first started to ramp up in the United States in early March, ARIN took the following steps, right out of the gate:

  • ARIN’s Senior Leadership Team was well aware of the impending risks, and made clear they were monitoring the evolving national and regional guidance.
  • Leadership solicited ideas and information to prepare for the potential office closure.
  • We increased the presence of hand sanitizers and cleaning products throughout the office.
  • We developed a phased response plan that considered guidance on community closings and prioritized the health of our employees.

For all of us at ARIN, the emphasis was always on protecting ourselves and our loved ones. Leadership was responsive and understanding if any employee didn’t feel comfortable coming in to the office and preferred to work from home (even though some of us already work from home on an occasional basis). Eventually, our office closed its doors on 19 March, and we all went remote.

Nailing a major deadline and being majorly productive

Because many of our staff members had been working from home occasionally for quite some time, we were prepared from a technology standpoint to make the switch to full-time working from home. We just weren’t sure what our productivity levels would look like. We were put to the test right away when we started to come up against a major deadline to launch our new Internet Routing Registry (IRR).

Since we were fortunate enough to get the project started back when we were all in the office, we had a great starting point. Without the collaboration and whiteboarding activities we did prior to working remotely, it would have been an even bigger challenge. We successfully wrapped up the first phase of the project at the end of May, and we will be launching the new IRR around 10 June. 

Across all software development teams and projects, we actually saw a 150% increase in work completed compared to a 4-week sprint before the pandemic. Although we knew ahead of time that we had a lot of work to churn out, we surprised even ourselves with the end result. We know this pace isn’t always going to be sustainable, but it was an unexpected bonus.

Staying close when you can’t be close

While we’ve still managed to be productive while working from home, we’ve definitely missed the water cooler chats and facetime with coworkers. Some of us are struggling working from home. We have some people who feel a little too isolated, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, some people who feel a little too crowded and distracted by family members and pets. For those people, getting back to the office can’t come soon enough.

But while we’re apart, we’ve come up with a lot of fun ideas for staying connected during this challenging time. We’ve tried to maintain some of the traditions we’ve put in place when we’re in the office, like our morning trek to the kitchen to get coffee together. To keep the “coffee train” spirit alive, we’ll all hop on Zoom at 9:17 AM every morning and have some coffee and socialize. Maintaining a sense of normalcy in whatever small way we can is so important.

We’ve also done some virtual happy hours and even a yappy hour with our furry friends. We know that life will continue on behind us when we’re in a Zoom meeting, and that means expecting there to be crazy kids running around, a significant other putting away groceries, and all sorts of background noise, but we’re being accommodating. We understand that things won’t be perfect for the time being, but it’s not forever!

We can get through this.

Through all of this, I’ve learned just how much we thrive on the face-to-face time that being in the office brings. Sure, we’ve learned to replicate some of those encounters through Zoom, but nothing compares to popping in someone’s office for a chat or getting a quick question answered when we pass each other in the hallway. We miss each other, and Zoom and Slack just can’t quite cut it there.

Overall though, we’re getting by and doing better than expected, which is all we can ask for at the moment. Here’s hoping you and yours stay safe and healthy during these uncertain times.

POST WRITTEN BY:

Deb Martin

Senior Project Manager, ARIN