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

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”… (more…)

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

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter

Over the past few weeks, the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic has presented an unprecedented set of challenges to not only our country’s workforce, but nearly all facets of our daily lives. While millions of Americans are being advised to work remotely or self-quarantine, our professional tradesmen are still reporting for work each day to keep the lights on and the water running. While this pandemic has brought on stress and uncertainty for many, Sonnhalter wanted to shine a light on some of the ways that those working in the trades continue to persevere, with some even finding new opportunities to succeed during this crisis.

Toilet Woes Still Require Plumbing Pros

With the well-documented toilet paper shortages across the country, people have resorted to using toilet paper alternatives that can wreak havoc on your plumbing, from napkins to shredded t-shirts. While those at home see these incidents as misfortunes, the recent increase of flushing improper items has provided an unexpected increase in business for some plumbers, like Michael Williams of Just Drains LLC in Philadelphia. “This is going to turn out fantastically for the drain cleaning industry,” he asserts. “People are flushing lots of things down the drain that should not go there – wipes, tissues, paper towels.”

Utility Company Workers are Redefining “Work from Home”

With hospitals filling up, people filing to the supermarkets to stock up and many telecommuting from their homes, it is unthinkable how much worse the crisis would be without power or natural gas. But in order to maintain operations, utility companies in New York and Florida have taken a new approach to both keep utilities running and abide social distancing guidelines by sequestering employees in offices, power stations and control rooms. According to the article, employees for these utility companies are trading off week-long shifts living in RVs and trailers at the company’s facilities in order to maintain power and natural gas services to thousands of customers.

Architecture Firm Uses 3D Printers to Make PPE Face Shields for Healthcare Workers

Some of the biggest heroes in our country’s response to this crisis have been the healthcare workers on the frontlines, and it has been encouraging to see companies using their resources and technology to help provide essential safety equipment. For example, HMC Architects is using 3D printers to manufacture PPE face shields and making them available to hospitals and clinics in its communities. The face shields are produced remotely by HMC employees, who are able to produce about 35 face shields per day from their homes.

National Association of Home Builders Provides Key Tips for Jobsite Safety

As construction jobs move forward, there is significant need for information that employers and workers can use to help reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) published guidance for construction employers, employees, contractors and companies conducting work on construction job sites on a number of topics such as coronavirus exposure prevention, preparedness and response. These documents describe, “how to prevent worker exposure to coronavirus, protective measures to be taken on the jobsite, personal protective equipment and work practice controls to be used, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, and OSHA guidance on what to do if a worker becomes sick, including recordkeeping requirements.”

HVAC Technicians Implement “Contact-Free” Protocol to Keep Employees and Customers Safe

For necessary HVAC service jobs, some companies are offering “contact-free” protocol to help mitigate the spread of the virus. Technicians for these companies will call before heading to the job site, as well as calling when they arrive at the door. Technicians are also advised to maintain a six-foot distance from the customer at all times, wear masks and protective gloves and even offer video chat consultation if extra precautions are necessary.

We are living in a time where it feels like the situation is changing by the day, but one thing that remains constant is the courage and fortitude of the professional tradesmen and their ability to find new ways to providing all of their essential services. Know of any other innovative ways professional tradesmen are getting the job done during the pandemic? Email us at


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