Our Family’s Social Distancing

Cynthia Ray

BVH will be publishing stories from our staff as they navigate this new way of living and working. Our first post is from Cynthia Ray, one of our interior designers based in our Omaha studio, who shares how her family’s day to day has changed.

In a conversation with a friend, it came up that my family has five at home working and going to school. Plus two dogs…who certainly could use more education. The friend really couldn’t believe that we could function. I have to say, even with some intense deadlines, deliveries that ended up at the office instead of my home and homework help, I have felt productive. I really consider this a bit of a miracle and have been reflecting on how the current pandemic has changed my work location but hasn’t changed my ability to get work done.

Perhaps the most important reason for the success of this transition is that I work on a committed team at BVH. Although we don’t use Scrum in its full expression, many aspects of an Agile workflow have contributed to our productivity. We start our day with a “Stand-up” meeting, making sure that no one has encountered road-blocks that hamper productivity. The team makes sure everyone is fully supported. We celebrate successes, even small ones, along the way. I think this is really key. What we are doing isn’t easy, so recognizing that helps to keep us motivated through the next challenge. We are in constant communication via Slack and Zoom meetings, checking in, asking questions and setting priorities. We have even taken time for remote fun. Yoga and Virtual Bingo, organized by our HR director, helped to break up the days that now seem to run together. Knowing that your team is “all in” and working together toward a goal brings exceptional peace of mind and motivation.

My kids have also been prepared for remote working. I have teenagers, so my story may have been quite a bit different if they were younger. However, they each have a thorough understanding of how to communicate with their teachers and classmates remotely. Although I wish they had the full engagement of the classroom, walking through the house and hearing math class, Comparative Politics and French all going on concurrently is amazing. Just seeing each other work and putting our time into our passions has given us all mutual admiration and inspired great conversations.  I’ve also been excited to see how they are using their extra time to learn new things. Practicing piano seems to be welcomed now there aren’t quite enough activities to fill the day. Art and baking projects have taken over the kitchen. They each have had important competitions and trips canceled, so their disappointment in having to do e-learning is real, but they are using their time well and catching up on lots of sleep.

Hard things can bring a family and “work family” together. I know that going back to school and the office will be so welcome when the pandemic’s trajectory has flattened and social distancing is eased. But we will also have this shared experience and know that we can accomplish really challenging things together.