DIGITAL EXCLUSVE: Working from home continues in first months of 2021

Digital Exclusive

Working remote is still the norm for a lot of companies as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. As many employees in the area are reaching the one-year mark of this lifestyle, working from home may begin to feel permanent. 

 Erie Insurance is just one of many of those companies, with 95% of their employees working remote according to Spokesperson John Simon. This leaves many of their offices sitting empty, including a new 147-million-dollar office building just completed downtown.

He and others are optimistic that working remotely isn’t a permanent situation, and returning to the office will be possible for Erie Insurance employees soon. He says employees are excited to occupy the new building and their other offices when they’re able. 

“We’ll certainly return to the office when it’s safe to do so. Our company has been consistent from the beginning in prioritizing health and safety of employees, customers, and agents and the community in general. We’re aiming right now to start returning some employees back this summer,” says Simon.  

Keeping safety in mind, they’re already working on a plan to be able to transition some of their workers back by their expected summer date. 

“When we start transitioning employees back, we’re going to do it slowly and carefully. Our CEO said from the beginning that it’s not going to be like flipping a light switch. It’ll be moving small groups of employees back over time to really make sure were accommodating social distancing requirements, PPE requirements, and making sure were keeping our employees safe,” said Simon. 

While Erie Insurance plan to move their employees back, other companies may not yet have a set timeline, leaving employees feeling burned out. Much like Erie Insurance employees, others are ready to get back to a normal lifestyle again too by being back in the office.  

Radius CoWork is a community trying to bring back that normalcy in a safe way for workers in the Erie area. 

 Located on the ninth floor of the Renaissance Center in Downtown Erie, Radius CoWork has office space, conference rooms, and technology available for its members to work well and to feel the social aspect of having coworkers.  

“If you are feeling that strain of being forced into this new teleworking role and you’re looking for a way to get out of your house, Radius is a really safe and effective place where you can come and get work done and also be introduced to a really great community of people here in Erie,” says Amanda Duncan, Community Leader at Radius. 

After being forced to shut down for 3 months at the start of the pandemic, Radius is open again but operating on limited capacity. Since their opening, Duncan is seeing a lot of people coming in that are still working remote.  

“We’ve seen a lot of people start coming in and were saying things like ‘my company has gone fully remote now and I just can’t work from home.’ It might be because they don’t have an appropriate space at home to work from, or they have kids or roommates and it’s hard to focus and work well. So, they come up to Radius as a means to escape that home life but also have the resources they need to work well. We have all the amenities you need to get work done.”  

Duncan says Radius has 10,000 square feet (about twice the area of a basketball court) of space allowing members to spread out and socially distance effectively. Along with socially distancing, they’ve made continuous efforts to follow safety measures and keep each other safe. 

“We have added air purifiers throughout the space, sanitizing stations, we encourage everybody when they come in to wash their hands, to disinfect surface before and after they use them, was their hands frequently throughout the day, mas up when they’re around others, we have limited how many members can be in each space throughout the floor, and we also keep daily attendance as a form of doing our own contact tracing. We’ve been really lucky; we haven’t had any incidents of community spread here at Radius.” 

Duncan knows that lack of socialization can affect everyone differently, which is why she encourages you to check out Radius CoWork if you’re feeling the work from home burnout. 

“We just need a better way to work. Often times we’re missing the social aspect of having coworkers, so Radius provides that community for them,” says Duncan. 

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