How Working From Home Refines Us

by Adam Steen, Director of Business Development | May 7, 2020

I have been working from home for almost eight weeks and it reminds me of a long inning in a baseball game; it seems like it will never end.

I am thankful Syverson Strege has put the health of its employees at the forefront and allowed most all of us to work from home. They have provided what we need to be successful in performing our jobs remotely. And we feel we have continued to provide valuable financial planning services.

My job at Syverson Strege is Director of Business Development, a position that requires relationship building and interaction with others…two things more difficult to do during a pandemic. As much as I love being with my wife and family, the lack of human interaction with others has been tough. Yet through face-to-face technology and intentional written communication, I have had worthwhile and meaningful interactions with others. Plus, I have hope since I know this won’t last forever!

My wife is also working full-time from home. We have two small sons, ages 2 and 4, who seem to require endless attention. I’ve been interrupted during Zoom meetings because my two-year-old wants a banana and I’ve had to escort him on an emergency “potty run.” We are definitely making full use of “workarounds” and making memories at the same time!

I checked in with a few of my fellow employees and asked this question: What has been the most rewarding, interesting, and/or challenging thing about working from home? Here are their answers.

Michael Murkins, Associate Financial Planner

Without a doubt, the most rewarding part of working from home has been the added time with my family. My wife, Jill, works as a kindergarten teacher and has been home due to school closures.

Our son, Jay, used to go to his grandparents during the day while we were at work. We would see him for just a couple of short hours each night before his bedtime. However, we have been able to keep Jay home due to Jill’s reduced workload, providing Jill and I with the opportunity to spend more time with him.

It has been an amazing experience! Jay has started to walk in the last few weeks (with a little assistance from us). Also, he is starting to develop a sense of independence with small things like eating and exploring. Maybe that independence is just a result of having to be quarantined with Jill and me for too long!

I have had my share of struggles as I adapt to remote work. Zoom seems to find an endless amount of ways to test my patience. But I have found that business partners, colleagues, and clients of the firm have all been extremely gracious and understanding. I think most of us realize that even though we are practicing social distancing, we are all in it together.

Jerin Young, Associate Financial Planner

The most rewarding is being able to serve clients and be available to clients in the same way even away from the office. The most challenging would have to be training my 4-month-old “co-worker” on the financial planning software. He hasn’t taken to it quite yet, but I am confident he will eventually!

Wayne Johnson, Financial Planner

First, I am really gratified by how well we are able to serve clients from our home offices. This level of service is the result of a number of factors:

1) The people in our firm do whatever it takes to serve our clients. We have processes to assure consistency and efficiency, but that’s just where we start. We are willing to adapt and innovate with persistence to do what is right for our clients. And we feel all this provides great value to our clients.

2) The leadership of Syverson Strege has provided the tools, structure, and culture that empowers and encourages us to do what is right for our clients and for our families.

3) We feel our clients value the service we bring. We hope they understand that there is a plan and a team in place to help them work towards financial security. Their understanding and trust are very meaningful.

Second, while I am in contact with clients and coworkers on a daily basis, I miss seeing live faces! I miss the connection of a handshake! And I miss sharing daily experiences with people other than my family.

Finally, the day-to-day activities of working from home are very strange. The activities of serving clients are a little more cumbersome, and it just takes more persistence.

My commute to the basement is really nice. I haven’t been cut off by someone changing lanes in almost eight weeks! I have found that the end of my work day needs a marker. The walk back up the stairs doesn’t do it. So, I take a run, call my mom, or do something to mark the end of the business day.

Meribeth Grogan, Director of Finance and Administration

I am one of three employees working at the office and the most rewarding aspect of this is being able to support the rest of the team who is working from home.

The most interesting thing I have observed is watching how everyone is adapting to this pandemic. I am amazed by the grace and kindness!

Making sure the technology is working has been challenging, but we have been able to come up with the most appropriate and productive solutions for the staff.

Megan Geary, Accounting Assistant

These last eight weeks have brought all three - interesting, rewarding and challenging experiences!

It is interesting and even amazing how Syverson Strege has transitioned me from working in an office to a remote setting so seamlessly. With the tools they have given me, I feel confident that I am still able to accomplish my job from home.

I am definitely an extrovert and thrive on conversations with others, so it has been challenging not to see everyone at the office. But it is rewarding to stay in touch with my coworkers through phone calls, email, and Zoom meetings. We are all still very much connected even though we have separate workspaces. The challenging part comes when my dog starts barking during a Zoom meeting. I am grateful for the mute button!

In these uncertain times, I am so thankful that I have the privilege to work from home and keep my family safe.

Working from home undoubtedly has its positives and negatives, and I, along with millions of others, long for our “normal” work conditions. It’s at these times, though, that our resilience, creativity, endurance, fortitude, and patience, are being refined. I’ve concluded that surviving this pandemic is making us better human beings. That alone might make this experience all worth it.