Logistically, moving to a remote-based operational model as a result of the pandemic was a simple transition for Yung Koprowski, founder and CEO of Y2K Engineering. When she founded the traffic engineering firm in 2017, she made sure the entire operation was cloud-based, making it easy for her 13 staff members to work from anywhere.
“Right now is really no different, aside from the fact that it’s harder to differentiate between when work starts and when it ends,” Koprowski says. “We have good, cloud-based IT infrastructure. We’ve been using it a long time and it works for us. That’s been the biggest compliment I’ve gotten from our team members about how easy the transition has been from home.”
The real challenge, however, came in the juggle the pandemic presented, demanding Koprowski to run a business and a household from the same spot for weeks on end. Millions of Americans can relate.
Koprowski, who was recently appointed to the Gilbert Town Council, admitted that it took a little while for her family to find a system that worked best for them, as she and her husband worked and their two elementary-aged children tried to figure out online classes.
“I was looking at my friends and they were creating amazing daily schedules for their kids,” Koprowski says. “I tried so hard at the beginning. It took me a week or two, but I finally realized it was way too much and it didn’t work for me to fit schoolwork in the same days I had actual work.”
So the couple achieved a manageable balance by finding a rhythm that worked for them. A few days a week, she would sit with the kids and work through their meetings and assignments, dedicating fully-focused time to what the kids needed to accomplish, rather than sharing her focus between work and school.
“They get lots of free time, but it allows me to be able to work,” Koprowski says, noting that virtual meetings during the pandemic seemed to stack up in the absence of the previously-needed buffer in between meetings for travel time. “I’ve seen them improve on certain skills.”
Her daughter has improved on her sight words, and her son has really thrived in math and science. And both have developed a few new life skills. “We’re doing life lessons that weren’t assigned, but I know will be valuable,” she says.
Wanting to inspire her staff to find balance in their own lives, Koprowski continued with the company’s annual cycling competition, which they participate in during Valley Bike Month in April. By clocking 400 miles for the month, Koprowski’s husband ended up winning the challenge, which encouraged everyone to take time for themselves outside.
“It really helped the first month go by much faster,” Koprowski says. “And it allowed all of us to go out and get fresh air. It helped with our mental health.”
Looking ahead, Koprowski says she’s been discussing what work will look like in the months to come with her staff, and it seems they may stick with some type of hybrid operation, allowing team members to work from home or the office depending on needs. As a mom, she knows she’ll be working from home at least through the summer.
“Working from home does work,” she says. “Some companies are moving towards work from home indefinitely. We can leave this work-from-home model open for a while.”
Story: Lisa Van Loo
Photo: Mark Lipczynski