As we head into this year’s holiday season, we can’t help but feel grateful for the resilience, commitment and perseverance of our employees. Despite the many unprecedented challenges and changes experienced throughout the year, together our employees have worked in entirely new ways, with positive energy and support, to overcome the unexpected.
And we know it hasn’t been easy. So we sat down with a few employees across the globe to hear about the transition to remote work, how they’ve maintained a work-life balance, and what they’re looking forward to most when we finally do return to the office.
Q: Tell us about your role at Motorola.
Lizandra Herrerias, Senior Marketing Specialist, MBG: I am currently part of the Global Retail Marketing Team and I am based in São Paulo, Brazil. As part of my role, I develop the global training assets for new products, our global training platform and I am also responsible for some special projects for retail.
Katie Mazza, Director of MBG Finance: Born and raised in the Chicagoland area, I was lucky to find my “home away from home” at Motorola. I’ve had a lot of different rotations in finance during my career at Motorola, but I currently supporting the Product Organization and Legal (IP).
Meena Praveen, Senior Product Manager, MBG: I work as a Senior Product Manager in Global Marketing Team and am based in Bangalore, India.
Agnieszka Stanczuk, Communication Manager, MBG Europe: Based out of Warsaw, Poland, I am currently responsible for managing communications across several markets in Europe.
Q: How was the transition moving from working in the office to working entirely remotely?
Lizandra Herrerias: It was quite smooth for me personally. With a global role, most of the people I talk to are not in the office, so that part was not a big change, but of course, being a “people person” I miss seeing people and interacting with them, having the social part of working in an office, like meetings, lunches, happy hours!
Katie Mazza: In life, I have constantly juggled a lot of things at once and worn many hats. This transition followed suit. As I was making the adjustment to working 100% remote, I was also packing up my house and moving into a new home. Add with 2 kids (4 and 7), who transitioned to remote schooling as well, and you can be assured there was never a dull moment!
Meena Praveen: It was initially difficult, especially with the daily standup meetings with the team which was a ritual to start the day, transition took some time with too many meetings as we could not see the team members face to face, however, we got accustomed to the remote working.
Agnieszka Stanczuk: For me, this has actually been a pretty smooth transition, as I was already working remotely and connecting with our agencies, media, and partners outside of the office. Although, I used to do this from the office of the person I was meeting, co-working space, hotel, etc. – now that there are restrictions I have been completely based at home.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge and how have you been able to overcome that?
Lizandra Herrerias: I believe the biggest challenge is being physically distant from my teammates and not having those casual coffee conversations that bring great insights to things or give you another perspective on a subject. And definitely, in the first weeks, putting together a routine to ensure I was still getting a work-life balance while working at home – learning how to organize yourself, take time have lunch and keep up with my agenda.
Katie Mazza: The biggest challenge has been maintaining a work/life balance. With no separation between “church and state”, it is easy to always be on. One of my favorite sayings that keeps me grounded is ‘I work to live, I don’t live to work.”
Meena Praveen: The biggest challenge has been the added meetings I’ve seen on my calendar now as a result of working from home (and not having the opportunity to swing by someone’s desk for a casual discussion). We have overcome that by streamlining the process of scheduling daily sync ups and aligning availability with the full team.
Agnieszka Stanczuk: I think the biggest challenge for me was learning how to stay in touch with people when we have to align things quickly. It was a learning curve for all of us – and that required some time. I’ve also found internet connection to be an issue as we are all using our at home wi-fi, which is not nearly as stable, fast and reliable as the connection provided in the office or at these coworking spaces.
Q: Do you have any tips on how to stay motivated and organized while working at home?
Lizandra Herrerias: Having a specific area set up to work helps and keeping a routine helped me a lot. My home does not have an office area, but I set up everything I need in one place. I still wake up early, but instead of sitting in traffic I have time to meditate, take a yoga class before I get ready for work.
Katie Mazza: Something that has helped me during this time is to think about what’s most important in life and cherish it. In my case, it’s family. Working remote has afforded me the opportunity to eat with the family, hear about my children’s days when they come home from school and put more focus on staying healthy.
Meena Praveen: I’ve found that taking the time to give myself both physical and mental breaks has been particularly helpful. I practice yoga in the mornings – it gives me peace of mind and good health and helps me to keep motivated throughout the day. I would recommend to anyone looking to stay motivated while working remotely to find time to balance your family and work-life – take breaks when your family needs you, grab coffee or have lunch together if possible!
Agnieszka Stanczuk: I try to work every day like I did before the pandemic. Only my surroundings have changed – and thanks to technology I have been able to continue to my job regardless of where I am. I also maintain discipline, by taking small breaks for a cup of coffee or lunch – I try to not to think too much about my housework or personal tasks until my workday is officially over.
Q: Have you and your team evolved the way you work together now that you’re all working remotely?
Lizandra Herrerias: We have for sure evolved. I feel closer to my teammates and closer to my leaders. Our team has created a monthly social get together and every time we have a different host and a different activity, like a virtual scavenger hunt, meditation class, Zumba classes, etc. So I would say we are closer both on a professional and personal/ social level. Prior to the pandemic, these activities didn’t happen as often or as easily as we would have liked due to distance, time difference and everyone being at different offices. But I think this one benefit that has really come out of working remote.
Meena Praveen: Yes, we have evolved quite a bit actually. For example, I’ve noticed that we now have more of a mix of formal chats (like weekly syncs, touch bases, etc.) and informal chats (like virtual coffee syncs or happy hours where we speak non-work-related items). By taking the time to connect on both a professional and social level, my colleagues and I have been able to maintain that more personal connection you get by working in an office together, despite being physically apart.
Agnieszka Stanczuk: We’ve definitely evolved – and are still evolving. I think what has really helped is streamlining the ways in which we communicate with another. Prior to the pandemic, it was a lot of apps, instant messaging, emails, etc. Now, we really try to limit our communication to one platform so that we can all quickly, and easily connect with one another without having to constantly check various platforms.
Q: Have you been able to maintain a work-life balance? How so?
Lizandra Herrerias: I have done a few things to make sure I maintain a work-life balance. First, I have a dedicated space in my home for work only which helps me to sort of separate the two. I also have my morning routine which includes meditation, yoga, home chores, breakfast and getting ready to work. I try to respect my schedule just as I would do if I were going into the office. Once the workday is finished, I have my home chores and I teach Naam 5 – a meditation class every day. This makes a total difference on the work-life balance and when the weekend comes, I just put everything work-related away, no computer, no big screen, no keyboards… just weekend activities at home.
Katie Mazza: Yes. It looks a little different than it did before; however, I try to remember to live by the saying “Never get so busy making a living that you forgot to make a life.” Keeping this top of mind helps me through all the COVID craziness.
Meena Praveen: Work/life balance in the first few weeks of lockdown was pretty difficult, as I would find myself working during the time that I would usually take to commute to and from the office and unwind before being with my family. However, as time progressed, my team and I have been able to streamline the work hours, and I am using this time to instead connect with my kids.
Agnieszka Stanczuk: This is tough to maintain, but focusing on having a daily routine is very helpful. Also, keeping weekends as a time for relaxing only.
Q: What are you looking forward to most about returning to the office?
Lizandra Herrerias: Talking to people in person, having an eye to eye meeting, just walking over to someone’s desk to ask a question instead of having a call, having lunch with my team. All the social aspects of being at the office, going to a happy hour with everyone…these are the things I look for the most.
Katie Mazza: Hands down, the people. Video calls are good, but nothing can replace the comradery that being in the office provides.
Meena Praveen: My team… and my desk! I’ve missed our coffee breaks and being able to causally connect face-to-face with my colleagues throughout the day.
Agnieszka Stanczuk: Being able to meet colleagues, media, business partners face to face again! Traveling to my countries in Europe, too. However, I think that we will continue to do a lot of things remotely even in a post-COVID world.
We’re so thankful for everything our employees do – and can’t wait to see what’s in store for us in 2021!