By: Marilyn Titone Schaefer
VP, Communications Director
Steve Miller and Starbucks coffee go hand in hand. He stops everyday for his morning fix. That was until the world shut down due to Covid-19. For now, he’s making his own coffee in between wearing the rug out between his office and the nearest copy machine. While the trips to the copier are going just fine, he says home brewed Starbucks coffee doesn’t have the flavor of a cup bought at the coffee shop.
Instead of stopping for coffee, Steve drives right to the office now, though his entire staff is working from home. Steve, vice president of INB’s Client Services Department, helped transition his team to working from home. The move provides the distancing needed to help assure INB will have people available to help customers in the event someone on Steve’s team gets ill. While they all work from home, Steve comes to his office in downtown Springfield to keep paperwork moving and help take phone calls. He says of his new day-to-day role: “This has given me a whole new perspective on what my staff’s day consists of.” He says it’s been a bit of “baptism by fire,” as he oversees the calls coming into the bank, assuring his team can handle it. With branch buildings closed to customers, phone calls have increased. But given the way INB’s telephone queue works, when the Care team can’t pick up a phone, the call rolls to our branch staff . . . and, these days, to Steve, too
“A lot of people are worried right now,” Steve says. “Some of the calls are simply people needing to be reassured that their money is safe and that we empathize with how they’re feeling.”
Steve notes that while he’s working from the office, there’s a new normal there, too. “Because there are so few of us working out of 425 (S. 4th St.), the situation has provided a great opportunity to get to know those who are here with me.”
On the Home Front
Christina Russell is one of INB’s Customer Care team working from home. With calls ringing straight to her from the INB phone system, she says she really doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to doing her job from home. “The only thing I can’t do yet is print, fax or scan, so Steve’s handling that for all of us.” She notes that the total reliance on fully functioning technology can be a bit stressful. “If technology fails, we’ll feel the pain with calls backing up.”
Steve doesn’t expect that to happen. He notes the INB tech team has been amazing in helping bank staff work from home. “They got us set up in a matter of hours, which gave me comfort in knowing my staff members could be distanced.”
Another key person on Steve’s team is Vicki Wall who overseas INB’s customer relationship software. The software assures that when a customer calls, we can quickly answer a question or provide direction. Vicki is doing her work from home. “I really miss the personal interactions,” she says. But she appreciates the ability to work from home since she is in a high-risk category if she would contract Covid-19.
“I can do my job from home,” she notes. And while the system is a bit slower and she’s had some blips with the internal connectivity software, she gets things done.
As for sharing her home office – otherwise known as the kitchen table-- with her husband, they’re making it work. She gets one end of the table; he gets the other. “I think it’s important to keep business top of mind so we keep it work during the day and family time after I “Clock out.”
It’s not so easy telling her dog she’s working. “The first week I could tell my dog didn’t know what to think, but she has quickly settled into her routine with us at home. From time to time, Polly will jump on my ‘desk’ looking for attention.”
Missing Out While Staying In
Add daughter Kathryn, a senior at Rochester High School, to the Wall household, and the home is buzzing. Vicki notes that the hardest thing right now is thinking of the possibility of her daughter not going to prom or being able to have a graduation ceremony.
Chris’s home experience is different in that her spouse goes to work each day. Chris appreciates that she can be with her teenage daughter, though. As Vicki also noted, Chris says she sleeps in a little later each day because she doesn’t have to commute to work. “I’m saving money on gas and lunch. I can work in my PJs if I want to.”
Steve continues to don his work clothes and join a limited number of colleagues in the office. When he’s not working, he’s dealing with the changes of social distancing as best he can. He and his wife and have been “zooming” with their five kids. Netflix, Prime, and sports games from his past, like Bull basketball in the 90s, help with the entertainment factor. But he struggles with not being able to visit his dad who is in a memory care facility. “I either FaceTime or talk to him through his window in his room. Worst is my daughter is pregnant and is very concerned that I go to work every day, so I don’t get to see her or my grandson, but Face Timing and SnapChat are wonderful social tools. “
He concludes: “I am blessed because everyone is healthy.”