There’s only one word to describe my move from Michigan to California: coronavirus.

As a first-time, young professional with a new job, I thought my biggest obstacle was adjusting to work life. However, in recent light of the virus outbreak, I’ve had to navigate conversations about my safety and adapt to work-from-home life (WFH) all while adjusting to a new city.

Where it all started

When I was gearing up to move, I thought my biggest hurdles were choosing which shoes to stuff into my suitcase; locating the perfect apartment; and finding reliable shipping companies to move all my belongings. Oh, how I was wrong.

How did I go from Michigan where my biggest threat was black ice to San Francisco with a coronavirus outbreak?

I started to see signs of coronavirus everywhere. San Francisco’s mayor declared a state of emergency; my friends at Samsara, Airbnb, and Uber were told to WFH; I even witnessed a bus passenger yell out, “Someone on the bus has coronavirus” after someone coughed. The bus instantly cleared out. Shortly after, I developed a cough.

This was taken on my first day at Matter. 🥳The whole team spent lunch at South Park with some furry friends

The crucial conversation with my manager

When I initially came to work the day that I was coughing, my team immediately said, “Dixie, we want you to take it easy. Please go home and rest up.” They emphasized how a healthy member creates a productive team. But it's a conversation still worth exploring.

What’s on your mind. During a one-on-one with my manager, I expressed how I was weary of taking the bus to work. My manager, the empath that he is, resonated with my concerns. His response: “I want you to feel psychosocially safe working without having to worry about getting sick from taking public transit to work.”  

“How can I help?”. Matter's head of talent was already doing a spectacular job offering support, reworking the company policies, and informing us on CDC and WHO updates. After sharing my worries, we came up with a plan that while I was recovering, I would work from home.

Crucial company conversations. Not going to lie, I thought this was all in my head. However, Matter’s #random slack channel gave me a peace of mind. Here, we shared coronavirus articles, tips, tweets, anything to keep us in the loop.

Jia from the engineering team shared an article in our Slack channel about confirmed virus cases in San Francisco earlier this month

Coronavirus and productivity at home

With my recent sickness and San Francisco announcing a lockdown, I’ve quickly adjusted to WFH. My saving grace has been sticking to a routine. While practicing social distancing, here's how I've practiced productivity at home:

Keep that alarm. Slowly back away from that delete button on your alarm app. Working from home doesn’t mean starting your day at noon. Remember, you want to keep as much as a normal routine as you can. Unless you feel ill, then talk to your manager about moving your time.

Best way to stick to a routine during this outbreak is keeping your alarms ready on your clock app (P.S. - I have eight more set up)

Taking a shower. When you’re rolling out of bed to work, I know I’ve felt the tug back into a warm bed. Taking a shower wakes up the mind and body instantly. It makes me feel refreshed and gets you ready to take on the day.

Technology is your friend. WFH is new to me, but utilizing technology as part of WFH is even newer. Slack, Google Hangout, and Zoom are now my go-to apps to check-in with my manager, perform my standups with the team, or and just ask questions to my peers. Setting up alerts and notifications for each app ensures you're on top of work.

Work with other quaratiners. My roommates, who are also WFH, are keeping me in check. We’ve taken over the living and dining room to mimic an office space to make sure we’re productive. Being with friends or family (if you are already living with them!) keeps you company during these sensitive times.  

Don't forget to take breaks. For me, I’ve felt a bit guilty taking a break at home while working from home. But, that's not the case at all. It’s perfectly normal to take a breather, eat, take a walk (around your house), whatever clears your mind. We encourage you to do so. Take a step back for a moment of just breathe.

Parting thoughts

I realize that WFH is a privilege that not many of us have. This is an advantage that we all should appreciate. While it's been tricky navigating this new life, there's light in this journey. I've learned to put my health first, leverage technology, and appreciate the little things in life (toilet paper). But importantly, recognize first responders, health professionals, and airport and transit workers that have stepped up to support our communities. From all of us at Matter, we thank you.


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Cover Photo Courtesy of Matter's Vault: Dixie and Shannon's first day