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Virtual Kin Hero

Day in the Life: Work from Home Edition

  • 02 September 2020 / By Amy Parker

It’s no secret that our ways of living and ways of working have changed drastically over the past few months. Since March, our Kin have been working from their homes, wherever those may be. Being tech-focused and well-acquainted with various online collaboration and communication tools, we were lucky to be a bit prepared to take on the work of being a fully remote company.

However, there were leftover aspects of our culture that thrive on in-person Kin + Carta experiences (think chats in the hallway as passing a coworker, daily quote letter boards, happy hours together, even a post-it gallery wall taking over a conference room.)

Becoming a Fully Remote Company 

Just like in our daily work, though, we adapted and did so quickly, because that’s who we are. We took our favorite parts of our unique office “homes” and shifted them virtual. This has looked like: “buddy” pairs to keep all Kin connected and supported, one video per week (at least!) from our executives informing all Kin of business updates, events, and involvement opportunities, keeping each location's weekly team meetings consistent (with more attendees than ever before!), and normalizing respect for boundaries around work/life balance.

 

We asked a group of Kin across Buenos Aires (BA), Chicago (CHI), and New York City (NYC) with diverse experiences to share a little bit about what it's been like.

 

1. What have you found to be the best part about working from home?

Ago Figueredo, Technical Consultant, BA:
The best part of working from home is to be able to do small things at home that I couldn't in the office. I can buy things online knowing that I will be available to receive them. I have my own desktop setup with my devices (mechanical keyboard has been a lifesaver!) I love the fact that I don't have to spend time commuting or dealing with the weather. I also now eat a lot of homemade food, which I love.

Chris Knoth, Product Strategy Analyst, CHI:
The level of freedom and ability to spend more time with my fiancé. Being able to get a workout in the middle of the day or cook while working has enabled me to work on my own terms while still being efficient. I'm able to do a lot more on my own time, at my own pace.

Rachel Manigault, Sr. Manager of Business Intelligence, CHI:
I get to really use my lunch break. I can get a head start on chores (or just get caught up!), I can go for a run, I can spend more time talking and connecting with family on the phone while I make lunch, and I get to spend more time with my cat, as well!

Stephen Fells, Senior Functional Principal, NYC:

I have three teenagers so being home has allowed us to spend more time together as a family. The simple acts of sharing dinner, watching TV shows, talking, and even working on jigsaw puzzles has brought us all a lot closer.

2. What have you found to be the most challenging part of working from home?

Joan Artigas, Senior QA Analyst, BA:
Balancing house chores with children and work, though it’s getting easier every day. We have three kids — one is seven and in primary school, the middle is in kindergarten, and the third is only one month old. The littlest has been the most demanding lately. What I’ve found to be the main challenge is helping the oldest with his homework (there’s lots), while also working and taking care of his siblings.

Lauren Blackburn, Senior UX Design Consultant, CHI:
Reminding myself to take breaks (though my cat helps with this!)

Madison Ross-Ryan, UX Design Consultant, CHI:
I think the hardest part has been making sure I'm moving around as much as I used to. Without having to commute, it's easy to sit in one spot, look at my Apple Watch, and realize I've taken 30 steps all day. Then I scramble to fit time in to move around at the end of the day! It's much easier to bake that in throughout a whole day.

Rachel Manigault, Senior Manager of Business Intelligence, CHI:
Living in a tiny apartment with a musician who also needs to be on Zoom calls for teaching private lessons.

Stephen Fells, Senior Functional Principal, NYC:
Not knowing when we will get back to 'normal', knowing there will be a new normal when we do eventually go back and not seeing colleagues have collectively been the greatest challenges.
When we are all in the office we gain a lot of information through osmosis. I miss that professionally but it's the socialization and banter that I miss most on a personal level. I just miss seeing everyone!

Zoom meeting with a concert in the background, anyone?
Zoom meeting with a concert in the background, anyone?

3. Do you use your normal commute time in a productive way? If so, what do you do?

Carla Pajak, Product Strategy Principal, CHI:
My commute previously was about 1.5 hours one way. I've used this time to: get more z's, have breakfast with my husband, cook a decent breakfast, and sometimes work out. Not focusing on the rush to get out the door and to the train has allowed me to focus on myself, get energized, which leads to me being more excited and productive when starting my day.

Mace Allen, Senior UX Research Consultant, CHI:
I usually spend my commute on the train reading books about my craft, UX Research. I try to learn new things, hone old skills, and find new ways to approach existing research problems. I still do that, but I now find myself reading a variety of books and articles on the subject of racism — I’ve been excited about the new Diversity Book Club pick. It’s important to educate ourselves during this time of desperately needed change.
I will admit that I’m still indulging in my favorite type of reading — graphic novels. Being an aspiring illustrator and comic artist myself, I can’t help but seek out great comic series to learn from and enjoy.

Rishit Shah, Technical Analyst, CHI:
I've been using the extra time to learn about new tools and technologies as a developer along with spending extra time on my workouts, which includes a newly started kickboxing basics lesson once a week. I learned about real estate investing and bought my first investment property. I also realized that I am really passionate about cooking so I have spent some time learning how to make really cool cocktails, vegan recipes, and not-so-vegan desserts. I also found two charities where I make regular donations for planting trees in the Amazon rainforest and to make food accessible to less privileged parts of the world. Long story short, the extra time has helped me become a healthier, happier and more fulfilled person.

Stephen Fells, Senior Functional Principal, NYC:
Pre-COVID I had a five-hour round-trip commute so I am getting a lot of time back! It sounds worse than it is; the majority of my commute is along the Hudson River so ordinarily I would read, listen to podcasts, and simply enjoy the view and tranquility.
Now I am able to have a slightly later start to my day. Things are not so rushed, in fact, those first two hours in the morning, when everyone else is still in bed, is my favorite time of the day. I still use the time to listen to podcasts and in the evening I have been trying to learn to cook ('trying' is definitely the right word to use).


Kin + Carta Book Club
Last month’s Book Club meeting to discuss “Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid. Our Diversity Book Club has been working through “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla F. Saad — a four-week workbook built with the intention to teach readers how to dismantle the privilege within themselves.

4. What parts of our day-to-day culture within the office have translated well to working remotely?

Chris Knoth, Product Strategy Analyst, CHI:
People's openness to A) roll with the punches/be agile and B) not be "too cool for school." It takes humility to be assigned to a random Kin across the Connective and reach out to them just to check in as your "buddy" but the fact that we've kept this up for multiple months exemplifies the human-centric culture we have.

Joan Artigas, Senior QA Analyst, BA:
The day-to-day conversations moved to slack and continue to feel refreshing to engage in pointless discussions about movies or food within the different channels. I love that aspect of Kin + Carta’s culture — we get to exchange opinions and cheer each other up by just having a nice, joyful conversation over topics that are not related to every-day-work. That makes the day so much less stressful.

Meaghan O’Brien, Resource Allocation Manager, CHI:
The funny/social slack channels have been great to keep in touch on some lighter topics, such as what our dogs are up to!

Kin Buddies
The Buddy Program has grown with us over the past few months. Kin now connect with one individual over a two-week period to foster a meaningful connection.

5. How has Kin + Carta supported you (or the firm) in this time?

Ago Figueredo, Technical Consultant, BA:
Before the lockdown started, our Office Experience team offered the opportunity to bring anything home that we’d need in order to work well. Having a second screen has been great for my productivity as a developer.

Madison Ross-Ryan, UX Design Consultant, CHI:
I think Kin + Carta has done a great job being flexible and understanding of everyone's lives. My work-life balance has not suffered because of the stay-at-home order, and that's a pretty big feat being that I no longer leave either work OR home now that they're the same place! My team specifically has been really great about posting when we are going for walks or taking breaks, just to get outside or moving.

Meaghan O’Brien, Resource Allocation Manager, CHI:
The transparency has been really really helpful in easing anxiety. I've talked to a lot of friends who have not experienced that level of transparency from their employers, and it sows distrust. Kin + Carta has been great in terms of keeping people apprised of updates, and showing compassion to employees.


6. What collaboration platform has been your favorite? Why?

Chris Knoth, Product Strategy Analyst, CHI:
Slack enables K+C's collaborative culture to come out as best as possible.

Lauren Blackburn, Senior UX Design Consultant, CHI:
Miro!! Online whiteboarding has been a lifesaver for remote brainstorming.

Rachel Manigault, Senior Manager of Business Intelligence, CHI:
Zoom - I like getting to "see" my coworkers and having the opportunity to take a moment to have a quick catch-up / check-in before we get down to business


7.  What have your teammates done for you that’s been awesome during this time?

Ago Figueredo, Technical Consultant, BA:
We did a couple of after-hours zoom meetings and it was great to see them again and have a chat to see how everybody is doing. 

Mace Allen, Senior UX Research Consultant, CHI:
Where should I even start? The people on my team are amazing and very special to work with. They are caring, considerate, and extremely intelligent. They never fail to convey passion for what they do. They show great empathy and generosity towards the client, being true servant leaders in how they go out of their way to accommodate all stakeholders. From the Scrum Master all the way through the designers, each person shows true heart and kindness in their work.
And what have they done for me? Firstly, as a well-established team they still welcomed me warmly, like one of their own from the get-go. As they do with all team members, they celebrated my recent birthday by having a birthday-themed message to me as their backgrounds for Zoom meetings. They got me a gift as a token of appreciation. They have made me feel at home and I feel so proud of that fact. It makes me proud of them that they are so compassionate and caring, and it encourages me to be the best I can be.


8. Imagining our lives post-COVID, what do you think the main takeaway for our clients will be?

Ago Figueredo, Technical Consultant, BA:
I think we proved to ourselves that we are able to maintain communication and high quality deliverables with a distributed workforce. This COVID setting only enforced this to action.

Carla Pajak, Product Strategy Principal, CHI:
That physically being together is not the only way to build trust and credibility. We can still knock it out of the park...from our respective "parks".

Lauren Blackburn, Senior UX Design Consultant, CHI:
We're incredibly flexible, and produce great things regardless of where we're physically located.

Mace Allen, Senior UX Research Consultant, CHI:
We're here to support you no matter the circumstances. We're flexible, and we adjust to any need.

Madison Ross-Ryan, UX Design Consultant, CHI:
I think the biggest takeaway for our clients will be an increased sense of empathy for both client and consultant. I've gotten to know my clients in a much more personal way because of the pandemic, and I think that sense of close-ness won't go away when we go back to the office.

Rachel Manigault, Senior Manager of Business Intelligence, CHI:
Hopefully this proves that a person's physical location does not need to be controlled, and that a teammate's location within the world also doesn't matter either (whether in the UK, States, or BA!)

Rishit Shah, Technical Analyst, CHI:
Remote work is not only possible but it’s also pretty efficient. People can be happy working remotely and this happiness can lead to better performance.

A Day in the Life WFH Edition
Collaboration in our Chicago office back in February.

9. What of our day-to-day life in the office are you most looking forward to coming back to?

Chris Knoth, Product Strategy Analyst, CHI:
The ability to tackle a problem with a colleague in person, rather than syncing up calendars to create a meeting just for what ends up being a 5-minute resolution. Similarly, being able to tap into people across the office to find solutions and learn.

Lauren Blackburn, Senior UX Design Consultant, CHI:
Trying new coffees in the Chicago café! At least once a month, the coffee aficionados in the office vote on new flavors of coffee to try from a variety of roasters. Once a new flavor comes in, it's brewed and shared with everyone in the office (though, you need to act fast if you want a sample before it's all gone!) All in all, it's an entertaining way to break up the day and catch up with others while expanding one's coffee knowledge.

Meaghan O’Brien, Resource Allocation Manager, CHI:
The casual chatting at your desk, at the beginning of meetings, in the cafe. All are more difficult to replicate over Zoom.

Kin + Carta’s global firm has never felt more connected, and that’s thanks to our values-driven employees who make it happen everyday. Want to experience the #KinLife? Check out our current open roles here.

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