March 12, 2020 was just like every other day during tax busy season. The day consisted of meetings, client emergencies, and the usual activities that occur at this time of year. Little did I know, an announcement from the Governor of Pennsylvania would soon change our future dramatically.
In the blink of an eye, we learned that we would have to adjust to navigating a remote work environment while taking on additional responsibilities at home. Like many others, my children’s school announced that classes would be virtual. This meant that I had the responsibility of being a teacher, lunch preparer, and sometimes even a principal all while balancing work. To say I was feeling overwhelmed was an understatement.
We had no choice but to figure out how to survive and continue to grow in our professional careers while working remotely. I discovered that patience is one of the most important qualities you must possess in order to cope and adjust. My kids left school in March and didn’t return to their semi-normal routine until September. Being patient and understanding that this was also a big change for them was important. They didn’t have play dates, summer camp, or vacations to look forward to. Instead, they continued to hear devastating reports regarding the status of the pandemic. Even when conditions appeared to improve sporadically, life could not – and still has not – returned to normal. The “new normal” for them is going to school two days per week and being home learning virtually three days per week.
In order to create balance, I had to make changes. I dedicated a separate space in my home that is just for me to work and take care of my obligations. This space has allowed me to feel like I am in the office so that I can fully concentrate on the task at hand. Additionally, I learned that clearly communicating with my co-workers and my family is key in navigating this new environment. There will be times that work and school will inevitably conflict with one another. There are times that I need to be fully dedicated to finishing a work project, and there are times when I have some degree of flexibility. Touching base frequently with co-workers and my family and being transparent has been key in juggling work, school, family, and day-to-day life.
Fortunately, working at Kreischer Miller gives me the ability to handle any hiccups that come my way during the day. We have been empowered by our leaders to take charge of our schedules. We are expected to work a full day, but it is okay if we have to shift our schedules around and work after hours because we had to take care of our families at certain points during the day.
Many parents are frustrated that schools have not been able to open, or that they have to unexpectedly close for periods of time. While I share some of these same frustrations, working at Kreischer Miller has allowed us not to worry about decisions that are out of our control. We are strongly encouraged to disconnect from work at times and utilize our vacation days so that we can enjoy family time. While this is sometimes difficult when your laptop is staring at you, I find that these family moments are so precious and necessary.
Ultimately, having patience, clearly communicating with co-workers and family, and taking time to unplug have been key factors for me over the past year. Taking the time to evaluate what is and what isn’t working for you and making small changes accordingly goes a long way.
Erik Feldman is a senior accountant in Kreischer Miller’s Tax Strategies group. He has over 15 years of tax experience and joined Kreischer Miller in 2011. He graduated from Drexel University with a degree in accounting and went on to get his master’s degree in taxation at Thomas Jefferson University (Philadelphia University). In his free time, Erik enjoys spending time with his family, watching sports and going on vacations.
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