All Posts By

Matt Szymczyk

Work-from-Home Productivity Tools and Tricks

By | Blog, Insight, Inspiration

For many, the current work-from-home situation has blurred the line between work and life. It’s beginning to seem like everything is “from home”.

My wife and I were deciding on a virtual Summer camp for my daughter, who will also be working at my wife’s wellness studio (also virtual). As I was writing this I was thinking “haha, my daughter can start to pay us rent”, then quickly realizing that we’d be paid with our own money, which didn’t have the same appeal.

The other morning, I had to drop something off to them at the studio, and as I walked in, my daughter started to pack up her things. I asked what she was doing and she replied “the boss said to have a good day so I’m goin’ home”! We laughed hysterically, and then it hit me how absolutely crucial it is to make your WFH experience the best it can be, and how important the right habits and tools are. Good habits can not only set you up for success and make you more productive, they can also help alleviate stress and help define more of a division between your work and home life.

Below is a list of some of the top work-from-home tips  from the Calyx team:

  1. Set a morning routine: Get up early, take a shower, make your coffee and breakfast, and prepare your lunch. This will help keep some normalcy to your routine.
  2. Get dressed: This will signal that it is time to get things done and help get you in “work mode”.
  3. Designate a workspace: This will help keep the separation between work and home physical as well as help limit distractions.
  4. Set clearly defined working hours: Stick with your regular hours for consistency and if you live with other people establish boundaries to cut down on distractions. Then disconnect and spend time fully with the people you care about.
  5. Do your “commute”: Committing to a routine will help brain prepare for work and also unwind after. I go for a walk before I start work and after I end each day.
  6. Invest in tech / comfortable setup: A pair of noise cancelling headphones, an ergonomic chair, and a laptop stand can make a world of difference.
  7. Communicate with others on your team: This is a new situation for everyone. Don’t hesitate to talk about struggles or things you may need. Communication also helps from keeping us socially isolated.
  8. Take a walk and stretch: Exercise naturally boosts endorphins, which increases happiness, enjoyment, and interest levels, all of which are important for productivity.
  9. Take lunch in an area other than the one you work: Eat with the kids/spouse, step outside or go for a walk. Do something that will get you away from your computer and give you time to decompress and rejuvenate.
  10. Hold yourself accountable: You’re in charge of your environment and you should treat yourself like an employee. Grade yourself honestly at the end of each day and set clear goals and objectives.

In the words of Australian actor F.M. Alexander: “People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.”

It’s true, the things we do on a daily basis are sometimes so granular that they seem meaningless. However it’s the small details that make the biggest impact over time. Pay attention to your daily habits and if you have any tips of your own, reach out, we’d love to hear them.

Lessons Through the Crisis

By | Insight, Inspiration

The COVID-19 crisis has certainly altered our ways of working and navigating through our business and personal lives. I think I’m like most people and could never have imagined how different things would be in such a small time window. I’ve heard people call this our “silent spring” because the noise of an active economy and our sheltering in place have stilled almost everything we know.

But one thing I do know is that Calyx is doing everything possible—and then some—to make sure our clients have our full attention. Our cloud platform enabled customers a seamless transition to remote work so they could maintain their operations without skipping a beat. Calyx employees are still working from home to stay safe while maintaining client support.

One thing that has not changed for us, however, is communication with our customers and with each other. Communication has always been valued and welcomed at Calyx and we’ve ramped up efforts to make sure customers are really heard as they manage through the disruption. Members of the management team call customers daily to keep them up to date and learn where we can provide support. 

In addition to communications, one of our core values is to “challenge everything.” There’s always a better way. Whether that means creating a new cloud configuration for a customer or just learning how to encourage collaboration in work-from-home scenarios. At Calyx, there will always be a healthy measure of debates and ideas to create necessary solutions. There‘s even more need for that now.

We’ve always found that listening is the key component of communications. At Calyx, we pride ourselves on listening, digging deeper and providing meaningful solutions. During the early days of the pandemic crisis, we listened to not only what the market needed but, more importantly, to what our clients needed. It was necessary for them to focus on their families and the viability of their companies, so we decided to scale back sales initiatives and focus on projects such as our virtual sales platform and our potentially altered future environment. 

The Calyx executive team keeps us informed of daily operations as well as where we are on our plan for this pandemic crisis. They also know that people can’t do their best work if they’re distracted by personal hardships so they have made support available to employees. The best leaders can manage admirably through crisis operations but it’s the exceptional ones who remember that there is a human being behind every square on an org chart. The execs at Calyx just get that.

They also challenge us every day to create a better way. That’s our mantra for business but I recently discovered that it works for me personally too. My ten-year-old daughter was recently telling me about an art project while I was “multi-tasking” (aka half paying attention). A few minutes into the conversation she looked at me and, unable to hide her disappointment, said “Dad, you’re not even listening.”

Her reaction was an enlightening moment for me. I saw her hurt and also realized how subconsciously distracted I was. After sincerely apologizing, I helped her understand that my work issue had nothing to do with her value. What she had to say or what she does is very important to me and I assured her we would never have this conversation again. 

A few days later as I was headed to my home office, my daughter stopped me once again and said “Dad, come look at this real quick.”  I quickly went into auto-pilot and said “ok.” I then stopped and asked her what she actually wanted. She thought for a second and then told me that she made some bracelets and my looking at them would take less than five minutes. This effective communication allowed us to be present and enjoy a meaningful, small moment. 

This crisis has helped me realize the importance of effective communications and that some of my focus has been on the wrong things—things that have the illusion of importance. I’m now more aware that there is always a better way in business—and in my personal life. You just have to have the courage and vulnerability to pursue it. In the words of early 20th century businessman, Thomas Dewar, “Minds are like parachutes: they only function when open.”

Stay safe and pursue a better way.