Things have been evolving for SciVista, our data company, for some time now.
In 2019, we won an award from the U.S. Department of Energy to build collaborative data platforms for scientists, using data from simulations performed on supercomputers.
So, when the pandemic started, our focus already was on helping people connect and communicate data insights over large distances.
But COVID-19 caused us to pivot: We had built the infrastructure to read, analyze and visualize data, but now the source of the data was from cellphones (aggregated and anonymized).
Suddenly, we were in the business of predictive analytics, responding to requests for proposals to help predict the spread of the disease from the Air Force and National Science Foundation, and seeking collaborators through the New Mexico Small Business Assistance program at the national labs.
Newly established networks helped us find the collaborators we needed.
At home, where I work these days, things have settled into a routine. Our third grader is enjoying the new freedom to choose how and when he gets his work done — he controls his schedule, with input from his parents, and connects with teachers and classmates over video.
There is still some anxiety, but I don’t think I have heard him once complain. He gets his work done, then jumps onto Minecraft with friends afar.
Our kindergartner is also happy at home — video games seem to be his thing — he is on the autism spectrum, so he has a therapist come daily for a few hours. But he is doing great.
The two of them go for bike rides together and have even been seen to make their own breakfasts and lunches.
By Week 3, I no longer need to lock my door for privacy — if they see me on the phone or in a video call, I am left to it. Kids are looking forward to “distance camps” for the summer.
We continue to call family daily over video calls. My mother-in-law is in New York City, and we are worried most about her alone in her apartment. Social isolation comes with real mental-health consequences — it is hard and can be exhausting. We are maintaining open channels of communication on text, email and video calls.
It’s interesting to see how employees are faring under these conditions. It used to be that everyone had to be in the office at a certain time of day, but who cares?
As long as there is demonstrable progress toward the goals we know are important, employees can be anywhere and working in a way that suits them. This is the new world — it’s based on trust, communication and the proven ability to work collaboratively using online tools.
Also, if a kid appears in the background of a video call, who cares? There’s a breakdown of the stuffy formality of ties, business wear and controlled environments, but this is how we live. Our work lives are becoming integrated with our nonwork lives in a way that is wholly positive.
We are not going back to the way things were.