Aletha Walker Suntiva Spotlight

Aletha Walker |
Suntiva Spotlight

What Remote Work and a Squirrel Have Taught Me

I’ve been a human resources professional for more than thirty years andSuntiva Aletha Walker with Suntiva for more than eleven of them. I’ve always worked full-time onsite. What I loved about going into the office each day was the personal bonding with colleagues. Gathering in the kitchen, waiting your turn at the coffee machine, talking about family, hearing about someone’s exciting vacation — it was a great start to my day. When you’re used to seeing your colleagues daily, and that stops, feelings of isolation can creep in. I did struggle with not being able to walk down the hall and sit in someone’s office for a chat or having an employee stop by my office just to say hello.

In Talent Management, we understand the importance of keeping employees informed, and it’s even more essential now. Whether a new federal ruling due to COVID or a new benefit offering, employees need to be informed in real-time. One of my biggest concerns about working remotely was not being able to answer inquiries or provide HR support in a timely manner. So, I quickly learned to adapt to new ways of staying connected and virtually engaged. Microsoft Teams has become my new best friend. 

Keeping in touch with employees using Microsoft Teams is the next best thing to seeing them in person. I regularly check in with employees, especially newly hired team members, to make sure all is well, and they have the support they need. This allows me to stay connected long after orientation and also keep informed on how employees are handling the remote workplace. 

Another way we use to stay connected is hosting brown bag sessions. These sessions have been very helpful for me, knowing that someone went away with a positive feeling and new knowledge.

One upside to working remotely is that it made me more conscious about my own physical being. I now carve out time to go walking each day, and I pay more attention to other living creatures. Like Mr. Squirrel, who jumps from my neighbor’s deck to mine every day at about the same time. As I watch him calmly stroll about, he reminds me to slow down and exhale!

Now that it has been almost a year since our workforce has been working remotely, I no longer hold on to the old way of thinking — that in order to provide great HR services, it must be in-person. Thanks to a great workforce, I have made virtual HR work for them — and me! 

By Aletha Walker