The New York Life Newsroom is running a new series that focuses on how our people are living and working during these challenging times. Here’s our conversation with Kenya Stewart, Office Coordinator, New York Life Field Service.
Kenya discusses how she has transitioned to working from home full-time during the pandemic while continuing her education to earn a bachelor’s degree. She’s based in our Illinois General Office and has been with the company for 11 years.
"I miss interacting with people face to face. I work on the virtual service counter where we now have Zoom calls with agents—they are so happy to see your face and not just hear your voice!" - Kenya Stewart
1. Let’s start easy: How are you?
I’m actually doing well. It’s been an adjustment, but, overall, I’m mentally and physically good.
2. Can you describe your role?
Our General Office team is responsible for onboarding new agents as well as supporting our agents and Agency partners with their sales and recruiting goals. As office coordinator, one of my primary functions is staying up-to-date on policies and procedures, then disseminating that information to the rest of our team so we can provide expert guidance and trusted solutions to the agents we support. I am also jointly responsible for the ongoing development of the employees in our office.
3. Who have you been sheltering in place with?
It’s been my husband, my daughter, and me.
4. What does your day look like now?
I usually wake up around 6:45 a.m., scuffle around the house for a bit, then hop on the computer around 7:30 a.m. to start checking emails. Every day my team has a Skype call at 8:00 a.m., and then I’m at the computer most of the day. I try and get up every hour or so, so I’m not sitting at my desk all day.
5. How has your working life changed in the last few months? What has been challenging and what has really helped you?
The most challenging has been getting a new routine in place. In the office, it’s very simple—you know what’s happening, where, how, etc. With working from home, we needed to learn new technology, different ways of interacting—it’s a whole new world. Regular communication with the team has helped a lot. We depend on each other, so staying connected is important.
6. What do you miss most about the office?
I miss interacting with people face to face. I work on the virtual service counter where we now have Zoom calls with agents—they are so happy to see your face and not just hear your voice! It’s amazing—you don’t realize how much you have missed people until you see their faces again.
7. What has been good about working from home? What innovations have you or others adopted to make it easier?
The adjustment to working from home wasn’t that difficult for me, as I already had a home office setup. I am going to school for my bachelor’s degree so having a dedicated space for me helps me keep my mind focused.
8. How are you practicing self-care right now?
We do game nights. We sit at the dining room table and play board games or cards. I’m also keeping up with schoolwork, which has helped me a lot.
9. What are you watching, reading, playing, or listening to as a reprieve?
I’m binge-watching “Grey’s Anatomy,” which I have never watched before. And, of course, I’m reading a lot for school. A new book that we are reading for summer school is about the history of cities in the western world and it sounds so interesting—I‘m looking forward to it. It will be interesting especially considering the current environment.
10. What are your go-to comfort foods while sheltering in place?
Fannie May’s dark chocolate-covered almonds! It’s a local candy company based in Chicago that has been around since 1920.
11. How exactly would you describe your coronavirus-era wardrobe?
Sweatpants, yoga pants, and T-shirts! When I have a Skype call, I do make sure to wear a regular shirt, but otherwise, I’m comfortable.
12. What are you most looking forward to when the pandemic is all over?
I‘m most looking forward to in-person interaction again. I can perform almost everything I need to from home, but the interaction with people is what I miss most.
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