In the first article within our new campaign ”Keep business going (while keeping the social distance)”, we have the pleasure to find out how Andreea Sirghie, the Channel Support Operations Manager at HP Inc. Romania, manages to organize her time and stay motivated.
Tell us about what happened with you & your company in the first weeks of this crisis.
I’d say that, at all levels, we had to cope with a new status quo. Neither persons, nor companies kept the previous functionality model. As a company, we were already focusing on the crisis and deployed fast a business continuity plan. Personally, I switched my office at home continuing to do what I did until that moment while I had to make sure my team operates safe and efficiently from home. I took additional responsibilities as part of the BCP team and that required even more structure for my time in the new setup.
What are your company’ top 5 priorities in this period?
Top priority was and is the wellbeing of HP employees, partners, customers and their families.
Then we put all efforts in the supply chain area, for continuing to deliver products and services for our customer. We made sure we increased the customer support operations through our global support website for customers and partners needing assistance during this time. Also, we made sure we keep the contact with our customers and partners: there was released an HP Response to COVID-19 Guide for Customers and Partners with details on our business continuity plans, how-to guides and other useful information pertaining to the most common requests we are receiving, including cleaning your PC or Printer, best practices when working from home, and tips for hosting virtual meetings. Last, but not least, we made efforts for increase the awareness on cyberthreats, offering also free HP Sure Click Pro version access for protecting our customers.
What were your challenges and how did you overcome them?
I have almost 70 members in my extended team. My first concern was to make sure they are at home, safe and functional, and that we established a good governance model for this period. So, we established the communication flow and we still stick to it, it pays off and helps us stay connected both personally and professionally. In the same time, I had to find my own flow in the new setup: how do I manage my work? How do I deal with shopping? Should I move it online (I did, I feel better)? What kind of approach should I personally have towards this crisis?
How did you adapt to the new working conditions?
I chose to look at it as a challenge of what we knew as norm and as the greatest chance to test out change management abilities. The world and social norm as we knew it is no longer there. You can look at it as it is an apocalypse. Or you can look at it as a fast-forward learning exercise. Therefore, I started to watch news less and less, selectively. I read only trusted information sources (newspapers that I know they have serios investigation or analysis departments; official sources). I try to look at what works well, to see things in the right perspective (high number of cases compared to what? What is the overall population number? and things like this). I build a “daily pill of positivity” for my team and my colleagues. And I keep the connection with my friends. All the time. Does not matter how busy or tired I am, I ask them (or they ask me) if all is OK. That makes me feel that life is still bright.
How did you organize your workspace at home? How does your office look like?
Not too many things to organize: a desk and a monitor in a corner of the dining room. But from time to time I move around talking in my daily calls. Sitting all day long is not quite my style of working.
How do you stay motivated and productive? – tips & tricks of WFH
I never miss my morning coffee and few minutes of silence from the balcony (I have a nice view that I really enjoy). It gives me the energy to move through the daily tasks. Around 9AM, I switch off TV/radio and I start my working day as if I am in the office. I keep my regular slot for lunch. I try, as much as possible, to allocate at least 30 minutes in my calendar for a daily workout, in the evening. I talk all the time with a lot of people, I laugh, I listen to good music and I think all the time that it’s a learning that maybe we all needed to have.
What do you miss from the “old days” when you were at the office?
I am a very “people’s person”. I like interaction with my colleagues, we have good times together in the office. I miss my daily connection with everyone around me. The morning breakfast together. The sound I hear when they are all on the floor and have a good day. And even if I managed to build a new routine, I still miss the old one, the one that implies leaving the house and coming back. It’s that part with “after office life” which is difficult to feel these days. And I miss wearing high heels, not too many occasions to do this at home.
How do you personally manage work-life balance during this period?
In the beginning, I was not very good at this. I worked too much, not allowing myself proper disconnection and time to relax. But I learn fast. Now I close the email around 7PM (not all the time, but 90% cases) and I don’t work at all in weekend. I make time for reading, movies and proper sleep. I’d say it’s healthier than it was in “office times”, in some respects.
How do you use in your advantage “the quarantine time”?
I am not an expert in psychology, but I think these are the times in which it would be good to have a good relationship with yourself. If not yet to the right level, now it would be a good moment to start. In my case, I’m grateful I came to this moment with a good balance, a nice dosage of realism and a good sense of humour. Also, it’s a great opportunity to improve the networking. If you don’t have it or build it fast and reliable, it’s a burden these days, it’s way more difficult to do your job. I always had a decent network. I like to believe that, when I will come back to the office, it will be way better, for the benefits of my team and my organization. And I also have a feeling that I’ll be more in shape, physically, than when I left the office in March.
Looking back at the last month, do you have a favourite moment?
I never thought I’d be able to say that in these times, but I have so many! All the moments in which I managed to improve the situation for a partner. All the laughs with the BCP team members, the relationship we build, that we are all aware will stay there forever. The solution-oriented vibe I feel across the organization. The calls with my team, where we talk, and laugh, and share crazy daily things. The “childhood memory” call. The moment when someone told me she is going to be a mom. The kids of my colleagues showing up in calls. My wonderful friends setting up Zoom calls for having online lunch together. And I can continue listing…
What activities do you enjoy engaging in as a family or by yourself?
I’m glad I have the time to watch or re-watch movies I never had the time or patience for in a long time. I read a lot. And it’s good I have some time to restart my workouts. And to re-learn French.
What habit, mechanism or idea will you preserve for your professional and personal life when quarantine will end?
There is always something good to anything that happens to us, even if we are not able to see it at first. The relationships we have are challenged as well and it’s a great moment for self-analysis and relationship analysis. What kind of person I am? What do I do as a professional? Can I do things differently? What should I improve in the benefit of myself and my friends or family? What kind of people I want in my life? How do I rebuild my friendships in the new circumstances? These are the time of creative, adaptive and smart people and companies. Those who understand that change must become the new habit, to improve resilience and ability to move forward. Difficult time are the ones showing us what we are made of. I had the chance to see this for myself, I learned a lot about me as person, friend, colleague and manager. I’d like to be able to keep this spirit for the future: change is the only constant thing in life, make the best out of it. And enjoy the ride. In the end, nothing is forever, why not looking at things in a constructive way? Maybe it sounds bombastic and unrealistic. I am not. I learned to move on in very difficult times of my life. So, I will do it in this crisis in the best possible way I can do it: learning, laughing, supporting other.
What will be your company’ first 3 priorities when the lock down is over?
HP Employees safety will remain primary focus, that I know for sure. We still have to wait and adapt to this very fluid situation, to try anticipating and also to continue supporting our customers and partners to do business with us.