Virtual Happy Hours, Makeshift Offices and a Million Zoom Calls: Team Sonnhalter Checks in from Home

by | Aug 14, 2020

by Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer

It has been more than five months since the Sonnhalter office transitioned to an indefinite work-from-home (WFH) policy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. And like thousands of companies and millions of employees all over the world, we have both struggled and thrived as we learn to live with this massive paradigm shift. While our stories may not be unique, we thought it would be a fun exercise to have a team roundtable and let everyone reflect and share the ways they’ve adjusted to life in quarantine and learned to thrive as best as they can in the “New Normal.”

When Sonnhalter initially started working from home, what were some of the initial adjustments you had to make to your daily routine in order to be productive?

Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman: I was fairly used to WFH from my time independent contracting for a few years. So, although I stopped getting up quite as early as I used to (5:45 a.m.), I still got up early every morning and took a shower and got out of my PJs. I tried to step away from my computer at lunch time and take a walk after lunch to break and refresh myself. It is proven that taking a walk can reduce stress, and studies have shown that going for walks can not only improve your ability to focus, but it can actually boost our creative problem-solving skills!

Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter: I had to get used to both my wife and I working in a two-bedroom apartment, which was not designed for having two people work remotely! Other adjustments include keeping in daily contact with my fellow employees (when I was in the office it was easy to just walk around the office and say “hi” and catch up with employees) and trying to figure out good natural and/or virtual backgrounds for video calls.

What have been some of the upsides of your experience working from home?

Andrew Poulsen: I had about a two-foot stack of books I was finally able to get around to finishing. I want to come out of this experience with some positives, so I’ve tried to fill the hours I used to spend going out, watching sports and shopping with educating myself. Also, my girlfriend and I had discussed converting our spare bedroom into an office for months, so quarantine forced me to stop being lazy and finally put the desk and shelves together to make it happen.

Sandy Bucher, Media Engineer: No commute! I never really worked on a laptop before, so I now have experience doing that. I am able to take the laptop out onto my back deck and work outside if I want. I can concentrate better with fewer distractions and noise. I’m able to spend more time with my dog, Charlie. I can do household chores throughout the day. I’m able to retrieve packages right away, so they’re not sitting outside.

Robin Heike, Production Engineer: Being able to login in as early as 6:30a.m. to start the day since I am up early. Not having to drive into work.

What have been some of the downsides of your experience working from home?

Angela Ruland, Design Engineer: Not being able to have in-person meetings with clients and coworkers. Emailing back and forth for everything can get old.

Matt Sonnhalter: Sometimes, the days start to feel like the movie “Groundhog Day”…

Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard: Missing my co-workers and the catching up every morning when I would make my “rounds.” Knowing and sharing the random, daily, little things about and with my co-workers. Laughing with my co-workers. Let’s face it, we have a couple of wise crackers amongst us … I miss that!

Since quarantine began, have you taken up any new skills, hobbies or interests?

Angela Ruland: Yes! I started gardening and going on a lot of walks. I also started doing yoga again.

Andrew Poulsen: I’ve been playing guitar for more than a decade, but I decided to branch out and buy a synthesizer, so I’ve been learning how to play that since April or so. My girlfriend and I have also taken up hiking, so every few days we try to find a new trail within the Cleveland Metro Parks. It’s nice to be reacquainted with the outside world in a safe way. Plus, it tires out our very energetic dog, Chippy!

Terri Sonnhalter, Finance Foreman: Learning how to use Zoom!

Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard: I downloaded an app called CellarTracker to organize and catalog our wine, so we know what we have and when it is optimal to drink it.

Matt Sonnhalter: Sending out weekly “Friday Funny” texts to employees, clients, business colleagues and friends. It started early on during the “stay at home” orders to try and bring a little bit of laughter and humor during trying times.

Did you learn anything (new delivery services, online yoga classes, etc.) because of COVID that you will take into the future when we eventually return to the normal way of life?

Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard: That ordering carry out meant that the restaurant would bring your food right out to your car window. I could get used to that. And that cocktails could be ordered to go!? Speaking of cocktails, I learned how to make some pretty impressive craft cocktails, like French 75s and pear-elderflower martinis.

Matt Sonnhalter: Some of my work colleagues introduced me to Purple Carrot (plant-based meal delivery service) and Imperfect Foods (a service that reduces food waste by delivering imperfect pantry items from grocery stores like fresh fruits and vegetables) and it has been a nice, new edition to our meal and food rotation.

Sandy Bucher: Learned how to use Zoom for meetings. Also have used Google Hangouts to play with family. I now use the mobile deposit feature with my bank.

What is the one thing you can’t wait for once the pandemic ends?

Terri Sonnhalter: Being able to hug my family members and see friends in social situations.

Andrew Poulsen: A beer and a Nashville hot chicken sandwich at my favorite booth at Parkview Nite Club.

Robin Heike: Hugs when I greet my friends.

Sandy Bucher: Just to be able to feel comfortable and go leisurely shopping whenever you want without worrying about other people and the worry of the coronavirus. I miss getting together with family, so it would be nice to go back to having our regular family get-togethers. Also, I miss Indians baseball. Sorry, that’s more than one thing…

Anything else you’d like to share about this “new normal” we are living in?

Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard: I think it is interesting how certain business owners became very innovative, creative and nimble to set their businesses apart from the competition and rallied to succeed in this time, where others kind of gave up.

Matt Sonnhalter: It has definitely tested my patience sometimes, but also has forced me to get more “creative” in figuring out new things to do to keep my wife and me busy and active.

Andrew Poulsen: It’s not easy to feel excited or inspired right now, with every day sort of blurring together and so many usual hobbies and entertainment options now out of reach. However, it’s been really nice to work with a team that organizes things like virtual happy hours and virtual movie parties every now and then to boost morale. It’s nice to have those moments to connect and catch up with each other on a personal level, instead of just checking in on the status of a project.

Have anything to share from your work from home experience? We’d love to hear from you. Click here to get in touch!

To read more about how COVID-19 is affecting our B2T Industry:

How the Trade Media is Adjusting to the “New Normal” of COVID-19: A Conversation with Babcox Media

Throughout COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic, Professional Tradesmen are Essential as Ever

Even During a Pandemic, Influencers in the Trades Build On: Part One


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