Little House on the Prairie, but with Internet

April 14, 2020 Monika Burchfield

Little House on the Prairie cabin in the woods

Although there are many resources to support the transition to work from home, I’m grateful that I have been part of a remote workforce and culture since joining Appirio in 2018.

Appirio has a wonderful remote culture that fosters collaboration and accountability. Remote work doesn’t always mean work from home for everybody, but rather, work from places that allow you the space to get your work done. For me, that happens to be my home in a suburb of Chicago. My workday is typically between the hours of 7:30am and 3:30pm with just my two Shetland Sheepdogs to keep me company.

Then the State of Illinois, like many others, ordered a quarantine to help reduce the strain on the healthcare system to address COVID-19. As a result, my husband, who works in a traditional office, was sent home with his office equipment and quickly transitioned to being a work-from-home employee. In addition, my two school-aged children were sent home from school with their workbooks and a list of iPad apps for e-learning. ON THE SAME DAY. 

I can do this. How hard could this be?

I quickly learned that working while quarantined means not only am I managing the expectations of my boss, colleagues, and clients, but also my children and husband, and even the dogs at all hours of the day.

My husband is new to working from anywhere but an office. We spent a weekend transforming a corner of our basement into his workspace. In the process, we overhauled my workspace on the first floor of our home by repurposing furniture throughout our house. Next, we surveyed our home for adequate spaces where our children could study while we both work and decided the dining table would be great for their “focused” activities and our basement playroom would be a good place for play. I may have made a color-coded schedule (more about that later).

Little House on the Prairie, but with the internet! 

Determined to make the best of the situation, I scoured the internet for ideas to keep my children entertained and also engaged in learning about art, culture, and other lofty topics to support the development of good humans. I had visions of baking every day (we’ve done it once) and cooking at home regularly (does heating up frozen food count?)

In order to limit screen time, I built a color-coded schedule for their daily activities to include reading, writing, math, music, art, physical education. We have since simplified the schedule using a to-do list style of daily goals for everyone in the house. 

Wait, I have to teach Common Core math, too?

Something I didn’t expect was the conflict between my ability to train or teach in general against the ability (or perceived lack thereof) to teach my own children. With a background in training and development, I have basic knowledge of instructional styles and outcome-based learning for adults. Spoiler alert: My children don’t care at all about that. We had to get creative in how we delivered learning and the frequency and duration of lessons. This is still a work in progress. They may come out of the quarantine learning how to carry the one even if I don’t find a Trailhead style module on how to teach Common Core math. 

How will I manage all these things? 

Working remotely and working from home during an unprecedented global health event are two very different things. Client projects and deadlines are still my professional priority. I have learned to give myself some space and creatively schedule my day to make sure that, in addition to my work, I’m able to care for all the reasons I work in the first place: to support my family. 

My family’s routine is adjusting to create boundaries with one another, our work/school, and social circles. As the weather improves, I’m taking more frequent walks to remain active and spend time with the Shetland Sheepdogs, who don’t understand why there are so many people home all the time. 

When I joined the company, I wrote a blog about my initial impressions working for an almost fully remote company. The following sentiment still holds true today: I made a purposeful shift to a company that supports work that fits into one’s life—not the other way around. I was drawn to Appirio’s nurturing, collaborative, and customer-centric culture, and I really love the positive environment and the opportunities to grow.

Ready to learn more about Appirio’s work culture? 
Discover firsthand experiences, strategy-driven board games, and our social impact on local communities in our culture blog

About the Author

Monika Burchfield

Monika Burchfield joined Appirio after nearly 20 years of professional practice as a nonprofit executive. Over her career, she's raised millions for education, youth programs, and health and social services. In 2018, she earned her CFRE (Certified Fundraising Executive) designation and holds a Masters and Bachelors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Over her career, she’s volunteered to develop reporting, database training, and user adoption efforts at every opportunity.

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