“The New York Life Newsroom is running a regular series that focuses on how our people are living and working in these challenging times. Here is our conversation with Nate Miller, Senior Representative, Mail & Money Movement based in Dallas, TX. Nate has been with the company for 18 years and is one of our essential workers. He is responsible for applying non-automated payments received on our term and whole life products.
"Top of the list is to hug my co-workers; I miss them badly." - Nate Miller
1. Let’s start easy: How are you?
I’m doing great, all things considered. We all have different definitions of “great”—for me, I am waking up healthy every morning, so I can’t complain.
2. Can you describe your role? How has it changed since COVID-19?
I handle payments that we receive through non-automated processes such as wire transfers, payments above the minimum, and any checks that may have bounced. My day to day consists of working back from the oldest payments received in the system, fielding calls from agents, clients, and other representatives, while mentoring newer team members.
Since we started the work at home rotations due to COVID-19, I was brought in to help with the return mail of products I don’t typically support in which we are sending back physical checks that cannot be applied for a variety of reasons.
It’s been a unique challenge to work with products I have no previous history working with.
3. Who have you been sheltering in place with?
It’s just me, my roommate, and my dog. We have some serious cabin fever here!
4. How has your work life changed in the last few months?
As an essential worker, I have still needed to go into the office to do my job, but we’re following the two-week rotation schedule. So, for two weeks I am home and then two weeks I go into the office.
The most challenging have been the days in the office because it’s so empty. When this all started, the experience was very reminiscent of the movie “I Am Legend” with Will Smith. Not being able to interact with others and dealing with the very real fear of potentially getting sick was challenging.
Now that it’s been a few months it’s better, but still very surreal to be there when no one is in the office—when I am there, there’s maybe a total of 10 people in the whole building. For the days when I am home, effective time management is critical—staying on task can be hard and of course during conference calls I am always worried my dog will start barking!
This has been quite a learning experience for me as I have been helping teams I don’t normally work with, and I am supporting products I am not familiar with. It’s great that I can help out while learning something new.
Focusing on my work and getting the job done have really helped. I’ve been working in the office on rotation for a while now and I’ve gotten used to all the rows of empty desks. It also makes me feel appreciated when the company delivers our lunch every day. They have been providing lunch for us every day when in the office, and that little gesture means a lot.
5. How are you practicing self-care right now?
I like to go out on my balcony and just sit in the sun and breathe. I can’t express how grateful I am when I wake up and feel good.
6. What’s been the easiest adjustment?
Every day my team opens a group chat on Skype so we can share work statuses or ask for help. We didn’t do group chats before, instead we used email. I can see this being a practice we continue doing once we are back in the office together.
7. What’s been the most difficult?
I miss my work mates; the human connection. You lose some synergy between the team when you don’t see them regularly. There’s better collaboration when we’re all in same space.
8. What are you watching, reading, playing, or listening to as a reprieve?
I saw that Netflix has the complete seasons of Cheers and Seinfeld, so I binge-watched both of those from start to finish. I never realized how long both of those shows were on TV!
9. What are your go-to comfort foods during the lockdown?
Homemade soup is my go-to. Tomato basil and chicken noodle. Good stuff. I prefer to drink my soup from a coffee mug though. Is that weird?
10. What or who has become your go-to news source during this period?
With potential bias in the media, I watch a lot of Reuters news. Like Dragnet says, “Just the facts, ma’am.” That’s all I want. The facts, not opinions.
11. What’s on top of your to-do list when all of this is over?
Top of the list is to hug my co-workers; I miss them badly.
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