It’s a short commute to work these days for Dionna Zorici and Kayla Harmon, thanks to a nasty microbe.
Because of social distancing mandates that have been put in place as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, Zorici’s workstation is her kitchen table and Harmon’s is a makeshift card table in her living room.
Welcome to the new world of home offices, a trend that has been forced upon many businesses that may be demonstrating that traditional work spaces, not their jobs, are nonessential.
All it takes is some tech savvy and a good Wi-Fi connection.
“I’ve had to call the help desk a few times,” admitted Zorici, an engineering recruiter for the Bowling Green office of the Aerotek staffing agency. “I definitely wasn’t prepared for this. I didn’t have a home office.”
She does now, even if it’s a makeshift one. Zorici and the other six employees in her office are all working remotely and continuing to handle their clients’ workforce needs.
With most of her communication with business clients and potential workers done online, the change of venue is a minor inconvenience.
“We still have business going on,” she said. “We still have positions that people are hiring for.”
Zorici said the move to working from home “has been a bit of an adjustment because we’re so team-focused. Now we’re having to communicate with our team members through technology.”
Despite the calls to tech support and a less-than-ideal home Wi-Fi connection, Zorici isn’t complaining about being forced to work from home.
“I definitely think this is important,” she said. “It’s the right way to go about this to make sure the disease isn’t being spread.”
The transition to a home office may have been a bit easier for Harmon, an audiovisual support specialist at Western Kentucky University whose very job requires an intimacy with the kind of technology needed to function remotely.
“It has worked out pretty well,” Harmon said. “What I do on a normal basis involves going into classrooms and supporting the equipment. We also support videoconferencing in classes. Now everybody is doing that from home.”
Harmon said the initial news that she and others in her department would need to work from home was “a little scary”, but she said it has gone smoothly after “working out a few kinks.”
“I think it’s kind of amazing what we can accomplish working from home,” Harmon said. “It shows how we can adjust. This is a good era for this to happen. Twenty years ago, the university would’ve had to shut down.”
The videoconferencing, shared documents and other tech tools that have allowed Harmon and her co-workers to adjust to social distancing had already been changing the workplace before a pandemic forced many to work remotely.
The Flexjobs.com website said the number of remote workers in the United States has grown by 44 percent in the past five years and is now at 4.7 million people.
Although he would have preferred it not be forced on him, Bowling Green attorney Alan Simpson said he and his staff have learned to join that remote-working trend, even if temporarily.
“We made the decision last Thursday to close the office except for emergency clients,” Simpson said. “We’re fortunate to have a web-based phone system that allows us to transfer calls.
“We’re trying to carry on as normally as we can, and we’ve even brought in some new clients. I think everyone is starting to settle into our new routine. I’m thankful that I can still stay open. We’re providing the essential government function of making sure our clients’ rights are still being protected.”
Simpson came around to accepting the need for social distancing only reluctantly, but he has now bought into it.
“In the beginning, like a lot of people, I wanted more information,” Simpson said. “I looked to people who knew what they were talking about. I sought information from physicians and medical professionals. Based on their opinions, I’m fully on board.
“The sooner we can implement social distancing and keep people from interacting, the quicker this will pass.”
Another of Bowling Green’s new remote workers, Shelby Worthington of the CrowdSouth marketing and advertising agency, has been a resource for businesses forced by the coronavirus to change how they do business.
Manager of social media at CrowdSouth, Worthington has been able to help restaurant and health care clients use technology to communicate changes in how they’re doing business just as her own work environment has changed.
“We moved (to remote working) last week,” Worthington said. “It hasn’t been a huge transition, but it is a transition. We’re using Google Hangout and videoconferencing each day. It has been a pretty easy adjustment.”
Worthington said she appreciates how CrowdSouth managing partners Jason Heflin and Chad Webb took action to implement social distancing to keep pace with changes brought about by the coronavirus.
“My bosses moved quickly and took steps to keep us safe,” she said. “Our clients have all been great about working with us remotely. It has been a change, but the world is changing by the hour.”