🎖️ Badge of the Month Program

LaurenK Seattle, WA, USA Administrator
edited September 21 in Community Programs & Events

We Are Excited to Officially Launch Our Badge of the Month Program  

We’ve listened to the feedback you’ve shared with us about wanting to connect with others, and especially during this time, we wanted to foster a safe environment where you could engage with others in a fun and easy way. The goal of this program is to bring together different thoughts and opinions about a new topic each month, so that the community can learn and grow together!

The points you earn through this program will carry over towards our Rank & Rewards Program, helping you climb the ranks!


During the first week of each month, we will post a new question, topic or activity for you to participate in and to help get the conversation going. Depending on the difficulty or complexity of the question/challenge, we will keep it open for 1 week or 2 weeks to ensure you have enough time to participate.

When the new Badge of the Month question/topic/activity is posted, please feel free to leave a comment and invite others in the community to join in! If you see an opinion you can relate to or would love to hear more about what that person thinks, feel free to engage with each other and ask additional questions.

All community members who contribute to the post with a thoughtful comment, and engage with others will receive a badge. Each Badge of the Month post will indicate how long you have to respond to the post in order to receive the badge (ranging from 1 week to 2 weeks). Regardless, the discussion will remain open until the last day of the month at 5:00pm EST so the conversations can continue.


Participate in this month's discussion between August 3 and August 14 to receive this badge worth 10 points. After August 14, you can still respond to this post, but you will not receive the badge of the month. Don't worry, we plan to have a new question, topic, or activity every month so you can pop back in next time for your chance to participate, connect with others, and earn a badge!

Question: Tell us about your experience of working from home. If you are still going into an office, tell us about how things may have changed and what your new experience is like.

We're starting out simple with this months' question. Like the employees of Qualtrics, many of you may be working from home for the first time. Others may have already been living the remote work lifestyle for years. We would love to hear about your experience either working from home, or what the new 'normal' may be for going into an office. What are different ways you found to be more productive? Did you learn that there were things that worked, and maybe some things that didn’t work for you? What does your daily schedule look like, and how is this different than before? Are you experiencing Zoom fatigue?


  • AdamK12
    AdamK12 Bethesda, MD Superuser ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2020

    @LaurenK Great idea for a discussion. I am interested in learning what other Community members' experience has been like, and any best practices that we can uncover, especially for U.S. Federal agencies.

    Our agency has been on full telework since Monday, March 16th. For many of us, we have had some exposure to telework before, but only on an ad-hoc or one or two day a week basis, and not full time. We have received guidance that we will continue to telework until further notice.

    We have continued to execute very successfully on our team's projects and requirements, but nearly five months in to teleworking, the questions that I can see for me and my team include:

    How can we continue to communicate effectively with our peers, managers, and teammates, when we cannot meet in person? While we are adept at using technology to interact with each other very well, it is not the same as meeting in person and having the conferences, large meetings, and other important gatherings that are such a big part of working in a collaborative environment.

    How can we manage our home life when work and home are in the same place, and we must share our work spaces and work time with our partners and children? With no end in sight to the crisis, what should our expectations be of ourselves and the people we work with?

    Where can we look for development, diversion, and enjoyment when our ability to work "outside of the (physical) box" is so limited?

    I look forward to the discussion!

  • bstrahin
    bstrahin Madison, WI Wizard ✭✭✭✭✭

    @AdamK12 I have experienced a similar transition. We had very few distance employees in the division of my university prior to COVID. But interestingly my direct supervisor was one of the few who worked primarily remotely (came to campus once a week for high level meetings but often didn't have a chance to connect with the team directly). However, most of us have only had a day here and there that we worked remotely prior to COVID (due to appointments or starting to feel sick and not wanting to expose others).

    I have found that my team doesn't have very many meetings as our philosophy has always been to divide and conquer. So we have actually restructured some of our meetings to fit the virtual life better. We have gotten rid of the 3 15-minute check-in meetings that we had been using to touch base on projects and have group accountability. We now just cover those issues on the 1:1 with your supervisor. I hold a 1-hour 1:1 meeting with my direct report every week - we talk about what's on their mind, project status update and Q&A, divisional/team news, what they need for working at home, and 1 learning from the week (work or personal, we both share) and 1 thing we are looking forward to in the coming week (again work or personal and we both share). On top of that we have a 30-minute team meeting once a week over video chat just to socialize. We avoid talking about work and instead talk about our personal lives. It has really helped my team bond. We tried using a 15 minute time frame for this meeting, but we just didn't get the depth and quality of connection that the 30 minute meeting allows.

    I am very lucky that my partner is an essential worker and his children are usually with their mother. So 4 out of the 5 days a week I have the house to myself to focus on work. And the one work day that we have the children he takes responsibility for entertaining them and I help with meal prep (lunch & dinner) and then clean up.

    We are also recommitting to free, online or networking conversations for professional development to break up the monotony of the work day (in my case it's more time on Community). Our university also subscribes to LinkedIn Learning that allows us to have access to a lot of free videos.

    I will say that I struggle with the ups and downs of motivation and haven't found a great way to stay on track. The days feel much longer working at home with less meetings than I had on campus. We have lost the informal networking time walking to meetings (and the mental break those walks also provide). I fall into the trap of wanting to do house chores over lunch and need to actively stop myself before I burn out from overly productive 8 hour days. Anyone else having this struggle of the days feeling longer and that 8 hours in a remote environment is a lot more work time than 8 hours in an office environment?

  • LaurenK
    LaurenK Seattle, WA, USA Administrator

    Our team typically has an hour sync on Monday to discuss what we plan to do for the week, and another sync on Friday to discuss what we actually accomplished. We decided to use 30 minutes of our weekly syncs to discuss what we did or plan to do over the weekend. I think one positive that our team has seen from this work from home phenomenon is that we're learning a lot more about each other. Some teammates are willing to open up and share more about their personal lives and interests outside of work, which I think is awesome!

    @AdamK12 - you pose the question "what should our expectations be of ourselves and the people we work with?" When thinking about the expectation of others (specifically Zoom etiquette), I can't help but think there shouldn't be any! I know that sounds extreme, but the last thing I personally think we should worry about (for internal Zoom meetings) is whether someone has kids dancing in the background, is shoving their face with lunch because they have back-to-back meetings, or is wearing the same shirt for the second day in a row because it's the comfiest in their collection. I've found that my team has really absorbed an "anything goes" mentality for our internal meetings, and in my opinion, we are all just trying our best!

    @bstrahin - I totally agree that an 8 hour work day can often feel like 10 or even 12 hours. One tip that my team has shared (which I have yet to adopt) is to schedule a few 20 minute walks throughout the day. Actually adding this to their schedule and forcing them to get up for a break has been extremely positive for them. I've been told that using this time to unplug and get their bodies moving has helped them tremendously to feel refreshed when they open their computers and "come back to work". I've actually come across many managers at work encourage this behavior, if it's something that works. Personally, I prefer to take a few 20 minute snack breaks throughout the day and then take a longer walk after work and dinner! 😀

  • AdamK12
    AdamK12 Bethesda, MD Superuser ✭✭✭✭

    @LaurenK these are all great ideas! My team started out telework doing a fifteen minute pullup on two of the days when we didn't have a formal team meeting, which we discontinued after a few weeks because we talk so often over IM. We also tend not to turn on our cameras to preserve bandwidth on the VPN, which does make things a little less stressful. And I love the idea of building in multiple 20-minute walks!

  • bstrahin
    bstrahin Madison, WI Wizard ✭✭✭✭✭

    @LaurenK we are feeling the pressure of accounting for our time "up the ladder." And knowing that finances are on extremely shaky grounds makes taking long breaks terrifying (e.g. will it look like we aren't working and if layoff have to happen will that put us on a 'short list'?).

    How did you go about getting managerial support for such breaks?

    I feel like productivity is hard to measure, but I am sure the breaks help. But for us, we already commit to 8.5-9 hour time frames to be at work aiming to have logged between 6 (on the rare occasion) and close to 8 (usually 7.5) hours of production a day. Two twenty minute breaks and if you take a longer lunch break will stretch out when we log in and out to reach the goal hours per day. The only way I can see to avoiding is that is getting management's okay with counting these breaks as working/production time. I can see how you argue breaks are productive in an office - your breaks often don't get to be solo and you run into people and end up talking shop - but in this virtual environment it does truly seem like a time to get away from your screen and coworkers (e.g. less opportunity to talk shop).

  • BruceK
    BruceK Akron, OH Guru ✭✭

    We went full work from home 3/13, and started back in the office three days a week right after the Fourth of July. I'm a team of one, so I haven't had to worry about team meetings.

    However, I have lots of internal clients (plus some external). Depending on their adaptability to tech, I've found that some prefer MS Teams chats, some prefer email, and some actually want to pick up the phone and call me. The phone means we have to start out chit-chatting, while on Teams we tend to get right to the point.

  • LaurenK
    LaurenK Seattle, WA, USA Administrator

    @bstrahin - it's definitely tough, as every company is different and employees may be feeling the pressure with performance reviews or talk of possible layoffs. I am very lucky, and for us, I believe the managerial buy-in came from the feedback that was collected by our People Operations team. Throughout the different stages of this pandemic, we are surveyed (of course) about how we are generally feeling, what our daily/weekly struggles are, what can be done to improve our energy, if our managers are providing enough support, if those 'up the ladder' are providing enough support, and a lot more. I hate to say it but now more than ever managers (and our managers managers) need to be gathering feedback from their teams and actioning whatever is possible, within reason of course. We are all struggling - trying to balance work, life, kids, health, and just general happiness - and I think it's very important for an employer to be able to recognize that.

    Depending on the type of work you do, there are some things that you may be able to do to 'take a break' while still being productive.

    • Any informative meeting - like where a coworker is meant to provide an update - may allow you to sneak away from your desk for a bit while still tuning in to the meeting (investing in wireless headphones may be a huge win here). This way, you can join the meeting via your phone and take it remote, maybe even getting outside for a bit.
    • Sometimes I charge my computer at night so that in the morning I'm free to sit wherever I'd like around my house. I know some of my coworkers live in single bedroom apartments right now, so this one is a bit harder for them to do. Regardless, sitting in different places helps me segment my day almost in a fun way. Depending on what I'm working on for the next few hours, I choose a different place to set up shop. If I have to sit down and write up a document, I like to be outside with the sun on my back. If I'm working on a design project, I chose to put the tv on in the background for some noise, since I usually like to do design work at coffee shops. For any meetings that I have to lead, I choose to head back to my desk where I know it will be quiet.
  • bstrahin
    bstrahin Madison, WI Wizard ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2020

    @LaurenK I love the 'take a break' while working solutions you mentioned. I think these free and not disruptive techniques will be great to share with colleagues. Thanks for the ideas!

    I've been using this forum as a way to take a mental break (at least a change of pace in thought process) and can loop it back to professional development/networking so it's a great escape from the long and monotonous days.

  • ana_velez_voce
    ana_velez_voce Medellín Superuser ✭✭✭✭

    In the beginning, working from home was not complicated, most of my work was digital, so the change for me was just a matter of place. With the days I understood that certain dynamics should also change to ensure that I could do it in a more optimal way, organize a desk, set routines so that work does not absorb my other activities. Although today we know that it is a necessity and perhaps a new normality , imiss many things about working on site that cannot occur in such a simple way in virtuality, talking with colleagues, meeting clients. We have also learned to be present even at a distance, to be more responsible and disciplined and to maintain contact more than ever

  • MatthewM
    MatthewM Chicago, IL Wizard ✭✭✭✭✭

    Good discussion. Pre-COVID I was working from home once or twice a week, mainly to facilitate my involvement in volunteer opportunities on weekday evenings. The transition to doing this on a daily basis has positive and negative elements, and it definitely feels different than it did before. On the positive side, I have two "extra" hours in my day now that I no longer commute to the office. That lets me get a little more sleep than I used to, and do things before work that I couldn't find time for before, like walking the dog and taking care of the garden.

    On the negative side, I miss the "buffer" I used to have between the end of the work day and coming home, which allowed some mental decompression before seeing my family. There are also the unintentional but unavoidable disruptions to concentration during the day working in tightish quarters, mainly kids doing what they do, barking dogs, ringing door bells.

    One thing that has remained the same whether working in the office or remotely is the need to step out and talk a walk mid-day. The plus side now is that I can do it with my family or dog!

  • Appzk
    Appzk Bangalore Guru ✭✭

    Such an thoughtful question for a start!

    For few of the work domain it is really great to have WFH whereas for rest it is not.

    I am a working women from India with an year old daughter who has started to hit all her entertaining milestones which is great to see for the first time as a parent which would have not full-filled if I was office going parent.

    This pandemic is really challenging for each of us but again it has given most of the new parents to spend a real good time with the child to bond along with the work.

    But one thing agree here is a mom's work is more challenging here since she has to pay more attention to the child. And there comes the lag at work and having an understanding reporting manager is an very important aspect for any working mom.

    So now this WFH thing has really made me work round the clock so that I can manage both the work and the kid to the committed timelines with the absolute perfection.

    Now the interaction with the child is more then with the peers :)

  • StephH72
    StephH72 UK Guru ✭✭

    Working from home has definitely been an adjustment with lots of pros and plenty of cons.

    Reduced commuting time means more time with the family and less money wasted on long bus journeys, however being in the home full time with no transitioning makes it harder to differentiate between work and life and keep the much needed balance.

    Collaborative work and innovation is much more difficult when not able to bounce ideas around a team and having to wait for everyone to be free for another dreaded video call. But at the same time, it's meant I've been able to get my head down and really get my head around some new builds, a bit more complex javascript and generally getting little projects done that have been hanging over my head for a few months.

    The roller-coaster shall continue until "normal" life resumes, but trying to take a positive from each negative will get us all through!

  • MattBroffman_Orlando
    MattBroffman_Orlando Orlando Guru ✭✭

    Agree on the adjustment for working from home. I'm starting to go into City Hall about once a week. Mainly because we have staff who are have to work and we want them to feel supported and connected to management.

    The biggest challenges for me are on busy days making sure I don't work into the night and on slow days staying motivated.

    I did find it interesting in our Employee Experience survey that one of the indicators on employee well being was how supported staff felt to their managers. We're testing but we think it's also about how often they meet with their team. In person, I think lots of teams don't meet regularly and they don't understand the value of regular meetings virtually. We do a daily check-in that lasts 10-15 minutes but provides a needed touch point for coworkers.

  • bstrahin
    bstrahin Madison, WI Wizard ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MattBroffman_Orlando I can say I was one of those people who didn't really like regular check-ins in person (I think it was because most of those were with too big of a team and a lot of the information shared was for the largest sub team and didn't impact the rest of the subteams). But I think the pandemic has been a blessing. As those meetings went virtural (1) we reduced the time of the meetings, (2) scaled back on frequency but are being consistent, and (3) most importantly the content has changed to be broader and more general operations of the business as a whole making them much more relevant to the entire group.

    I've also increased the number of meetings with my small group. But have a recurring purpose for every meeting - 1:1 supervision, group social time to replace when we would check in to say hi/bye in the office, and reflection/lessons learned from our work. It's been very helpful in creating a deeper group connection for us.