How We’re Coping During the Shutdown

Like so many right now, all our employees are working from home and facing challenges. We have parents with young kids, dealing with school coronavirus protocols, and those helping young adults transition to a pandemic college experience. We have single employees balancing work with life-long creative interests. We asked a few employees how the coronavirus has changed daily life and how they are coping. What they all have in common: taking care of their own wellness to weather this storm.

The planner with young kids at home

One employee, a self-described planner who has adjusted her expectations, is balancing work as a creative and being the mom of two young, active elementary-school children.

I wear several more ‘hats’ throughout the day – working mom, technology assistant, teacher and CEO of family life – which keeps me busy managing all the pieces of the daily puzzle. This requires some planning and organization but we’ve learned to be more flexible and do the best we can each day.”

To stay balanced, she is making time to exercise daily, including the family on lunch walks or bike rides when she can. She finds that quiet “me” time is important and that even a few minutes in the early morning or before bed can go a long way. Essential oils have also been a great trick for balancing stress.

“Taking it one day at a time is my new motto. I’m celebrating daily victories and keeping perspective on what is most important – our health and the people we love.”

The bachelor juggling career and interests

Another employee describes himself as a confirmed bachelor with a challenging creative career and passionate interests in arts and entertainment. Since he lives alone, the lockdown has not been an easy adjustment. To help with balance, his doctor prescribed anti-depressants, which are working well. He also thinks of the big picture perspective.

“I always keep reminding myself how lucky I am to continue work remotely without interruption, compared with the many who are not so fortunate.”

He takes comfort in personal creative pursuits, taking walks, listening to music and audiobooks, and watching classic films. He misses keeping his home and work lives separate. On the other hand, he doesn’t miss the commute or packing lunch in the mornings. The shutdown has given him a new appreciation for his expertise and impact.

“Once I jokingly described my professional skill set by saying ‘I make things extra better.’ I find motivation and purpose in knowing that I get to apply my abilities to make things ‘extra better’ in various ways for our clients, for my coworkers, and for my friends and family.”

The exec, musician and father of a college son

One executive describes himself by his many roles: Father, husband, manager, sales guy and musician. He’s trying to navigate the new normal. As someone who has worked from home for a while, his personal daily routine is much the same but everything else is upended. Taking time for health and mindfulness is making a difference.

“I still have a lot of work to do to make it habitual, but meditation and exercise are key to my balance. I walk the dog most mornings, and am trying to do more running and weights. I have the Calm app for meditation and have for years. I know if I make meditation a regular part of my day that it will be hugely beneficial.”

He looks forward to the day when he and his wife can resume favorite social activities, like eating out and going to hear music. For now, his biggest motivator is helping his son navigate the challenges of growing up and watching what he can accomplish.

I need to improve my mind, body and soul to be someone my son can be proud of. That means I need to  get healthy, stay healthy, and live in the moment.”

These insights from our team members are but a microcosm of the global collective desire not just to survive, but thrive. And thriving means that each of us must take personal responsibility for our physical and emotional health. After all, our employers may deeply care about our well-being, but they can’t set the morning alarm, stock our fridge with healthy food choices, or dust off the treadmill for us.

Our corporate culture is, however, the village it takes to keep us feeling connected. The daily grind of Zoom or Teams video conference calls doesn’t take the place of intentional, personal touch points. Just a few minutes seeing a coworker’s face to say, “Hey, how are you doing? I really miss our talks in the break room…” can provide a little nudge of encouragement to get us through another day.

UX Optimization

The world’s largest independent distributor of Toyotas called upon Signal to audit and optimize their finance website to provide customers with an improved user experience for managing their vehicle leases and loans. Their goals were to improve navigation, fix usability issues, and to personalize content based on where customers are in the life cycle. Our team followed Signal’s user-centered optimization approach to enhance the customer experience (CX).

Step 1: Planning and research

• Analyzed current website performance and identified opportunities
• Put a good measurement plan in place
• Investigated website analytics
• Gathered input from customer data and hot search terms

Step 2: Information architecture

• Audited website content
• Used card sorting for the optimal organization
• Developed a new site map

Step 3: User interface

• Created wireframes to help iterate the design
• Used clickable prototypes to polish
• Used agile design, with the end user in mind

Step 4: Testing and optimization

• Conducted testing with real website users
• Made tweaks for the best possible user experience (UX)

Results: Improved time to task, better navigation and page layout, improved key metrics.