BY: Alana Edwards
I am a Right of Way Agent working in the LA Basin area, employed by Marathon Pipeline Company. I have been a Right of Way Agent managing land and real estate in the oil and gas pipeline industry for the past 24 plus years. A large portion of my job is maintaining good relationships with internal departments and external customers, landowners, city, county, state, and federal agencies. Now, I am having to adapt to a new normal as a Right of Way Agent working remotely from home during COVID-19.
On Friday, March 13, 2020, I received an email from my supervisor that due to the COVID-19 pandemic our group is to start working remotely from home on Monday, March 16, 2020. I hastily grabbed my work files, office supplies, and laptop computer so I could work remotely from home. The radio and news media were cautioning everyone to stay home, but to stock up on hand sanitizer, bleach cleaning products, toilet paper, paper towels and food. I made a quick pit stop at the local grocery store to find nothing on the shelves. I couldn’t believe my eyes…no hand sanitizer, no toilet paper, and no paper towels! I felt like I was in one of those bad end of days movies, except this was not movie – this was real life. I purchased some food items and made it home safe. I am single mom to a teenage daughter in high school. My daughter seemed happy to get the news that school was going be online for the remaining of the year. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to be working from home. I didn’t even have a “home office” set up yet. I told myself not to panic or get stressed out. I turned on the tv to get the latest news on COVID-19, which sent me into a panic, and I began to get stressed out. I now only watch the news every other day.
I realized that working at my wood dining table and sitting all day on my hard wood chair was not comfortable for long term use. Thank goodness for online shopping. I ordered my stylish desk, ergonomic chair, and comfy footrest. I set up my home office in area in my living room next to the windows. It felt good to have something normal as my own home office desk space. The next challenge was working remotely with the external customers. On Thursday, March 19, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay at home order to protect the health and well-being of all Californians and to establish consistency across the state in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. All my government agencies contacts were working remotely from home. We continued to work and communicate by utilizing the latest technologies, phone conference meetings, video conference meetings, and email correspondence. I found a comradery with my co-workers and external customers. We were dealing with the same COVID-19 crisis and stay at home locked down, which has drastically changed our lives. I have had many meaningful conversations with people about how difficult it can be to work from home and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Some people have small children that are running around yelling, laughing, or crying during a team conference call. I experienced my dog going into a barking rage while I was speaking during a video conference team meeting. Everyone seem to get a laugh from it all and it was good to know that we can be understanding and have compassion for one another.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of daily life in America and around the world. People are working remotely from home, companies are making difficult decisions to lay off employees, and businesses have been forced to close their doors due to the COVID-19 crisis. There are people who have loss family or friends to COVID-19. I am so thankful that my family and friends are safe and have not contracted COVID-19. I feel fortune to be able to work from home. I have adapted to working remotely from home by setting up my home office, maximizing communication technology options, and making time to have fun with my daughter. I take the time to appreciate every day and enjoy the little things in life.