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For many, the storm meant working from home

Tuesday, January 26, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Megan Mann
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Heather East had three conference calls on Monday and she could have held them all in sweats, if she desired.

The director of membership and operations for the Chesapeake Regional Tech Council was one of thousands of employees who had to work from home because of a weekend storm that dropped nearly 30 inches of snow on Anne Arundel County. Local residents are digging themselves out of the snow this week, and companies are adjusting.

East said she doesn't mind working from home, but there are some things she'd like to do in person — like hold meetings.

"I feel like a talking head because I'll be leading a conference call and I don't know if the person is answering emails or filing their nails," said East, an Annapolis resident. "My home office is very quiet. I can focus there."

To date, the system that roared into the area Friday is the worst winter storm to hit the Baltimore area, leaving 29.2 inches of snow at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. State, county and local officials have asked for residents' patience as they try to clear roadways.

Like most businesses in the region, Annapolis' ITNova closed early Friday in preparation for the storm. The technology firm is a state government contractor, and that has called for it to have a majority of its 20 employees taking the day off while the rest work remotely.

"It's a little complicated, but we have all the digital tools to communicate," said CEO Carolina Seldes, who lives in Severna Park. "We have to do it. I am sore today because I shoveled all day yesterday. ... Many meetings were rescheduled today because of the weather, so we're trying to do our best."

Joe Paska has been working from home for several years with his consulting firm, JV Paska Enterprises. He was working from home during the Baltimore area's last three major snowstorms — in 1996, 2003 and 2010 — so he got through this one with no major impact.

"It requires a sense of discipline that you've got to commit to, and then fight every day to stick to," said Paska, who lives in Crofton. "You can fix a leaky sink at 10 in the morning instead of waiting till 6:30 or 7 when you're home from work. But you may also find yourself in your home office or on your laptop at 10:30 at night every night."

Arnold resident Lara Joy can relate. She works at the Squires Group in Annapolis and spent Monday making calls — some to job seekers for work and others geared toward getting the heat working in her house.

"It's just time management. When I work remotely, I tend to start my day much earlier," said Joy, who is a senior resource manager for the IT staffing firm. "Would I want to be 100 percent remote all the time? I like to see everybody and I'd find myself going in. Recruiters tend to be Type A personalities. We like our people and we like to see everybody."

State employees were off Monday, but Department of Commerce's LaToya Staten worked from home anyway. She is from Michigan, so the snow didn't bother her and it allowed her sons Cameron, 13, and Larenz, 16, to see more of their neighbors.

"(Cameron) said this was the first time he'd seen so many neighbors outside and I thought that was very interesting," Staten said. "You did see a lot of neighbors pitching in."

This article was originally published in the Capital Gazette by Shanteé Woodards

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