In January of 2020 I was making plans to build a stair. We had recently renovated a couple of bedrooms and bathroom on the lower level our house for our daughters, leaving us with a couple of newly vacated spaces on the main level. The plan at the time was to use one of the bedrooms as a guest room, add a small 3/4 bathroom and, with the remaining space, cut in a new stair to the lower level. This new stair would replace the existing narrow, dark space with a wider one allowing sunlight to penetrate deeper into the house. That same month we had a friend over for dinner, a friend who works in the fireworks industry. Over the course of that meal he relayed to us what their staff in China were witnessing and the concerns they shared over this new disease sweeping through the country. At that time we had no idea two short months later our company would start the work week with the entire staff working from home.
Fortunately for us, prior to this event, our office had been consulting on a project with the University of Utah Hospital and witnessed how they prepared for potential issues/emergencies using a tool called PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingent and Emergency) planning. Using this framework you develop a plan for your primary state of work and then one of an alternate state if the primary is no longer viable. You repeat this exercise for each subsequent level of response resulting in a clear understanding of how your enterprise should/will respond in the face of crisis. The idea being if you make plans and prepare adequately ahead of time you can largely mitigate a lot of the impact. This planning effort resulted in our company being prepared for the remote working paradigm before actually needing it. Which leads us back to that stair.
In January I was looking forward to improving the condition of the lower level of our home. In March I was working from the dining table realizing that maybe a home office isn’t such an anachronism after all. The plans for the stair were shelved and in its place a new home office was realized. It isn’t anything fancy but the ability to close a door and conduct marathon Zoom sessions is appreciated by myself, and the family. It is interesting how quickly things can change. Prior to March I never really considered a home office as a requirement, now I cannot imagine living without it (well, I can but that thought is not particularly pleasant).
As the third year of this pandemic looms we are all working to come to terms with what is the new “normal”. I don’t know any better than the next person but I have come to appreciate planning ahead and being able to adapt to new situations more than ever.
– Sean Thompson