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Creatively Working Through COVID Part 5

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Thank you, Matt! Challenge accepted.

Tell us about the quirks of your new co-workers.

Adjusting to the new “normal” has been interesting in our house in Sydney, Australia! My new coworkers consist of my husband, my 18 year-old step son, and my 23 year-old son.

My husband is typically in his office most days, and I on the other hand pretty much have the run of the entire house and space. When he is not at the office, he loves being home (and, of course, having me home now too). If he is not at his office or checking progress on a client site, you can follow the sound of hammers banging or tinkering in the workshop where he’s repairing a myriad of things that require maintenance around the house. He is getting through that “To-Do List” faster than you can say “Low Code”!

I call my 18 year-old step son “the Phantom”, as he typically swoops down to the kitchen for meals, and disappears upstairs for most of the day to focus on his “Uni work.” Throughout the day, I mostly hear loud talking and laughter coming from behind his closed bedroom door upstairs. I take it that he’s really enjoying his IT course?!

My 23 year-old son doesn’t live at home anymore, but we still find a lot of time to connect. I consider myself the “Uber Eats Mum,” as I often have food delivered to him to ensure he eats (it’s the European in me, I guess!). He is currently working part time (stocking grocery shelves and baking bread so we can ALL eat), whilst also completing a Psychology Degree. As you can imagine, there are many Skype check-in calls and texts, and he occasionally sends through some of his digital artwork which is amazing! We have also worked hard to try to keep up with our weekly tradition of family dinners on Sunday nights (when it is allowed).

Describe your new normal.

Prior to the pandemic, my role at Appian required considerable travel across APAC. I would meet with our Partners, including Systems Integrators and Resellers, so the new normal for me is the same but different.

I have swapped queuing at airports with queuing in grocery stores and supermarkets. Rather than lugging suitcases, I now lug around grocery bags and push shopping trolleys. Getting scanned and occasionally searched at TSA, is now a temperature check and a quick squirt of hand sanitizer. I have gone from catching up on movies during a flight, to watching Netflix and Foxtel from my living room with my family nearby. My face time with Partners and colleagues is now strictly virtual calls and video conferences!

Here’s a rundown of what my days typically look like now:

6:00 AM — 6:30 AM: Wake up, read emails, reply to emails, then join calls to catch my U.S. colleagues before their day ends. I anxiously scan the news hopeful of positive threads of developments and progress, saddened by so many tragic stories and extremely grateful for many small blessings.

7:30 AM: If I am not on early calls with the U.S. teams and Partners, I find a moment to workout. I try to take my bike out every other day, and it seems so do the other 36,000 people in my area! Racing bikes, mountain bikes, tricycles, the occasional unicycle (I kid you not!), prams, scooters and the occasional dog on a lead! Where did all of these people come from?!

As I cycle by the coffee queue of my favorite café, it is longer than the Customs line at LAX airport, and at that moment I am thankful to be a tea drinker. I notice no one is in a rush anymore. There is more patience and consideration. I hope this stays our new normal.

If I don’t cycle in the morning, then during the week I will do a walk on the treadmill whilst listening to various recordings of the Appian Friday Knowledge Share. These calls are held every Friday morning during a time where us based in APAC are still sleeping, so the playbacks are great to catch up on what’s new, and what’s going on in the world of Sales at Appian.

8:30 AM: This is the time that I get ready, eat some breakfast, then calls, calls, and more calls!

The days are long and intense, and I feel I am busier than ever. However, I feel more accessible to my Partners and colleagues; not to mention I have personally felt my productivity increase! I really love what I do. It is exciting to be able to connect with the Partners that I support and with my virtual teams. I enjoy building, ideating, creating, educating, connecting, and re-imagining what is possible with Appian. And when we are in the ZONE! It feels fantastic. The future looks so bright, and the wins, when they come, feel extra special.

Throughout my calls, occasionally I will hear a hello from shy but inquisitive kids, a brief interruption of a crying baby, or a delighted squeal from someone’s pet trying to grab their owner’s attention. There have been so many funny, endearing, and wholesome moments on these video calls and great reminders that we’re all trying to keep it together and juggle our daily lives. The interesting part is that it’s way more visible than ever before.

12:30 PM: After multiple snack trips to the kitchen in between calls, I create lists for myself with things I need from the store. For example, our supermarkets ran out of toilet paper, hand sanitizer and pasta way before lock down, so for many weeks we trudged up to the supermarket at ridiculous hours in search of what now feels like the holy grail!

During lunch, I also check in on my elderly parents to make sure they are OK and do some quick food and grocery drop offs. I miss hugging my parents so much, and look forward to the day when I can again. I DO NOT miss Sydney traffic. What would normally take an hour there and back, now takes 35 minutes in TOTAL including a 10 minute chat at their door. The streets are deserted — it’s very surreal and almost apocalyptic.

3:30 PM: The focus and concentration is broken by the deafening sound of our door-bell for online shopping deliveries. The courier places the parcel(s) on the bottom step, smiles and leaves in a hurry. I pick the parcel up by the tiniest edge and place it in the quarantine room/store room (for a day or so) and then wash and wash and wash my hands again and again whilst singing our national anthem.

6:00 PM — 7:30 PM: Getting dinner ready in between calls with Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, UK and the Netherlands.

We have been comfort cooking and comfort eating A LOT — I am running out of options for both! In times of stress and anxiety, it’s the home cooked meals from our childhood we want to experience again. I have been trying my hand at cooking everything old and some new! My mother’s Spanakopita home cooked heaven and Jaimie Olivers Lobster Mac’n’Cheese is a decadently indulgent find! We still order take away once a week from our favorite restaurants, and yes it takes 1-hour or more for pick up, let alone delivery, but we are OK with that and the restaurant is grateful too.

My Favorite comfort food!

What do you miss about the office?

I miss the people. The vibe and buzz, social contact, energy, ideas, and collective passion for our Business in one space. Nothing beats being able to see a smile in person, look someone in the eye, and connect. I miss the food and shopping options that come as the perks of our Sydney office being located in the City. I miss riding in a bus over the Harbour bridge on my way to work and seeing our beautiful Harbour on a clear blue day.

Watching or reading anything new?

Every rerun I missed in the last 10 years. Here’s a list of some of the shows I’ve been into: Game of Thrones, Documentaries (Bill Gates and Pandemics), Black and White Movies (anything with Bette Davis, Lauren Bacall, Joan Crawford), and Foreign Films and Australian Classics. I am also a voracious reader, so you can often find me reading 3 books at a time — from Pandemics to Investing to Biographies and Historical novels .

For those interested, here are a few things that have personally helped me during this time:

  • Focus on mental health. This is a very VERY intense and stressful time so it’s important to keep mentally healthy and strong.

I’d like to challenge Adam Glaser, VP of Product Development at Appian to share how he is creatively working through COVID! Adam, over to you back in the states!