Making the most of working from home – lessons learnt from Hurricane Sandy

October 19, 2020
Image of women drinking out of a cup in front of a laptop

Almost every aspect of our lives has been affected in some way by the Coronavirus pandemic and our working life is no exception. No one knows how long until we're allowed back in our offices. Those of us with office jobs will undoubtedly have had to set up a home office.

Back in 2012, after the destructive effects of Hurricane Sandy, much of New York City was in devastation. Following the hurricane, many businesses were required to work from home for two months, including companies our Co-Founders worked for at the time.

The following pearls of wisdom are from our Co-Founders, Chaz Perera and John Cottongim, and lessons they learnt from the Hurricane Sandy experience and are practicing again today.

See also: Catastrophic Claims Processing Adjusts Using AI

A dip in productivity is OK

  • Although counter-intuitive, patience in times of chaos brings morale to your organization. In a time of great uncertainty, business leaders must expect a slight dip in productivity when the entire workforce must work remotely.
  • Your employees will get into a routine schedule and often they will make the best of it, but there are a lot of distractions at home. It's an unfortunate reality, but one we must learn to manage. Every worker that was used to a traditional office environment has become a remote worker.

Ensure the productivity dip is no more than a dip

  • It’s important to keep your employees motivated and engaged
  • A ‘huddle’ meeting each morning, where the team regroups and shares their outputs for the day ahead, help to keep morale high and employees accountable for their individual tasks


Keep to business hours

  • Especially when there’s an emphasis on staying indoors, social distancing, and no gatherings of any kind, it’s easy to continue working well into the evening.
  • Don’t make this an expectation, respect that your employees are at home and need to maintain a healthy work/life balance
  • Empower your employees to take back their lunch break and avoid meetings and deadlines in the lunch hour.


Keep meetings short

  • For as many meetings as possible, try to keep them to 15 or 20 minutes, this will help keep everyone focused on the task in hand and encourage quick decision making.


Team bonding

  • Virtual team bonding is easier now than it was in 2012 so try to make the best of this situation and maintain a sense of comradery with your team
  • Zoom, Slack, FaceTime and Houseparty are all incredible apps for socializing. We're not endorsing these technologies, but we think they're awesome. Don’t let Coronavirus take your water cooler moments too!
  • Keep a Zoom conference line open and encourage everyone to join that channel when they aren’t on other calls. Your team doesn't need to always interact in a formal capacity. Rather, the noise and the familiar voices will make them feel like they are back in the office. It will also recreate the experience of “popping over a cubicle wall” and asking for guidance.

 See also: Could automation protect company culture and productivity?

At Roots Automation we provide Digital Coworkers as-a-Service (bots) and so much of our focus surrounds employee engagement. In almost all business there are tasks that are repetitive and mundane. At a time like this when we need to keep our employees excited about their projects and providing excellent customer service, consider how bots could support your business and lift your employees to new heights.

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