At Westminster Tool, we are a company that values working closely with one another. We were not prepared to have our employees work from home, but we worked to make the transition as seamless as possible. Due to COVID-19, our sales and engineering teams, as well as some support personnel, have shifted to working from home. This has impacted not only how the team members interact with each other, but how they interact with everyone still working on the shop floor. By utilizing software such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, our employees working from home have been able to share information and collaborate with anyone at the shop, working from home, and even our customers.
As you may have read in our blog, Life at Westminster Tool During COVID-19, our shop has had to adapt to the changes brought forth by this global pandemic. With 25% of our workforce working from home, the shop has quite a different atmosphere. We’ve shown you what this looks like inside the shop, but what does life look like for our work from home crew after six weeks of settling in?
We asked some of our team members working from home to provide insight into their personal experiences with transitioning to a new work environment. Three individuals, Sherry Appleton, Michael Belmont, and Edward Graff fulfill very different rolls in the company. Sherry is Westminster Tool’s CFO/Office Manager. Eddie on the other hand is an account manager on our sales team as well as our quality coordinator. Michael is not only an account manager, but he is also currently the trainer for our internal sales assistant. They all switched to working from home at the end of March. Here’s a look at what they have done to ease themselves into their new setup while staying productive.
Q1: What was the best tool that helped you transition successfully or what would be your best advice to help someone transitioning to working from home?
I get dressed in regular pants, jeans, or maxi. Never in PJ’s. Treat it as a regular workday. Break times are still the same. What I found out, is; like all professions we have our special tools, equipment to get things done. I found out the tiny stapler at home sucks compared to the one at work. Rework! In that dept. LOL!
Microsoft teams has been a huge help in transitioning to working from home. It doesn’t make up for the face to face communications, though it does make everyone in the company easily accessible. By Westminster committing to teams being the go-to for communication and all employees – from home and at the shop – embracing the technology, it has filled a huge gap that separating the workforce could have created. The addition of the blue tooth headsets for everyone has also been a big step toward “normal”. Being able to voice communicate with anyone at any time has been huge, especially from an emotional intelligence standpoint where it’s important to be able to understand the person you are communicating with. Many times through texts/messenger, emotions can be lost or misconstrued; the headsets help bridge that gap. My best advice for anyone working from home is to invest in communication aids to help bring the team together. The closer you can get to face to face communication the better.
Best tool I would have to say is Microsoft Teams. I had very little experience using teams, but within a day I was able to pick it right up. It has been very easy to communicate with my colleagues who I would share office space with and has allowed me to continue to train some of my co-workers as well with very little issues.
Q2: What do you miss most about being at WT every day?
Comradery and joking
What I miss most about being at WT every day is the face to face communication and the culture. We have done our best to maintain that culture while working from home, but it’s like being away from your family and only getting to talk on the phone/video chat with them.
Interacting with my co-workers; we have great communication tools in place, but our culture at WT thrives when we are all together and able “Roll up our sleeves” and work together and challenges.
Q3: How have you best taken advantage of the opportunity to work from home?
Good things- I can start work straight from the shower and not blow dry hair. Play all my music as loud or as much as I want. Even sing with no one listening. Less interruptions and can focus on one task at a time.
I think working from home is something that is becoming more common and will continue to grow as time goes on. Being able to experience it for myself has been valuable in understanding the benefits/importance of it for many companies. I have learned that working from home is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I have taken advantage of this opportunity to work on communication skills. The importance of good communication with the right information and right people increases when everyone is not under the same roof. Simply forgetting to include one person on an email chain can result in a significant challenge somewhere down the line.
One advantage I have taken is spending more time and playing with my Pup!
Even though we must be spread apart right now, our team is doing everything we can to make the distance less of a challenge. By utilizing a variety of communication tools, our employees working from home are able to stay in constant communication with each other and everyone still at the shop. While it may be difficult, this is an important measure taken to protect the health and safety of every employee and their families.