Hard to believe it’s been exactly 6 months ago today since my last work trip and flight. It was a quick client visit in San Francisco to kick off an Epic go-live. Then, like a flip of the switch, all travel was canceled due to Covid. Projects were suddenly delayed, staff were asked to work remote, and quarantine forced us to stay home for months. I haven’t written a blog entry since, as priorities in our world of consulting have all shifted. This was new for me, and many of us had to majorly adjust how we tackle each day. Let’s face it, it’s been a struggle to adjust, but I think after 6 months…I’ve finally adopted to the new norm.
I thought I would share my thoughts on a few areas that really required a change in how I approached continued client support, while adopting to my new work environment in my home office. Let’s start there, setting up a conducive office space. I myself am lucky, I have a physical office. My laptop and PC are running all day with both my cell and home phone ready. My husband on the other hand did not have an office, so we had to convert the guest bedroom. We are on opposite sides of the house, and with doors closed we have a good set up. I have seen colleagues struggle with challenges including their kids, pets, internet connections, and non-conducive environments. I’m lucky, I had none of those issues. Would love to hear how those of you with these obstacles adopted.
Attending back to back Zoom meetings was another big adjustment. I wasn’t prepared to suddenly be on camera at 8am with my boss! First couple days I found myself throwing on a baseball hat, but quickly realized others were dressing professionally. I would say by week 2 I was taking a shower first thing and wearing a dress shirt for the day….and yes, I always had shorts or pants on. I noticed my background was cluttered with office shelves full of tchotchkes and picture frames. My laptop did not support the green screen option to fade the background, so I had to clean up the shelves and change some artwork. When I meet with clients, I move my laptop so that I’m in front of a plane white wall. I’ve seen some pretty funny backgrounds, and even a couple really inappropriate ones. Curious what the funniest background you’ve seen has been.
My biggest challenge these past 6 months was quickly and effectively transitioning our normal service offerings to new delivery models and net new services due to Covid patient care, travel restrictions, and pop up hospitals. In my role at work I lead our consulting services efforts for go-lives, training, implementations, optimization projects, and Managed services. Almost overnight I watched project after project get delayed and/or totally canceled.
We had to quickly adjust our focus areas to meet a sudden new demand in the market, support services for Telehealth. Within days we set up an extended version of our Epic MyChart service desk to now provide full patient prep support for telehealth along with provider support. My go-live leads and Epic builders were moved to answer phones with an increase in call volumes off the charts. It was, at first, a crazy rapid response model to get our customers up and running on support. Months later we’ve improved our processes, staffing models, and quality of delivery. We’ve also successfully converted our go-live and training services to a virtual model option, but most our customers are asking for a hybrid version. I’m sure you all have been asked to change the way you deliver your consulting services, and no doubt will need to continue to bend and flex as we identify the new “norm.”
The biggest loss, from my perspective with all this, is the loss of face to face networking opportunity. Every event I had planned these past 6 months have been canceled including multiple client visits, HIMSS, CHIME, Epic UGM, KLAS Collaborative, and our own company sales meeting. Many of these were offered at some level in a virtual setting, but it really is not the same. Client meetings are on Zoom, but rarely do I get to see their face. I find it unlikely any of our industry events will return anytime soon. HIMSS21 has already been delayed from March to August 2021 in Las Vegas. I expect others to follow that lead and push out their event dates.
I will admit that there have been some considerable advantages to working from home. While I miss traveling, I do not miss sitting in traffic, fighting for overhead bin on a plane, or sitting for hours and hours in the terminal for delayed flights. I’ve never had a cleaner home and have advanced my cooking skills considerably. Being able to spend more time with my husband has been wonderful as well as safe social distancing small gatherings with friends has also been really nice.
I’ll admit in April I was fighting depression, but looking back now at the last 6 months, I have to take the whole experience in and look at how well I’ve adopted to the changes. To close out, I have to say I’m so lucky that my colleagues, employees, family and friends are healthy. We are all dealing with various challenges and the current political and cultural clashes in our country aren’t exactly helping our cause. Let’s continue to work together, face the ever shifting challenges in our industry, and lend support whenever you can at work, to your community, and to your colleagues in the industry.
Want to share how you’ve adopted? Share your comments below.