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Holding the fort for clients and colleagues

yoga @ Landaas

Kendall Bauer leads a lunchtime yoga session. (Photo by Jason Scuglik)

Most of the Landaas & Company staff have been able to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, but a core of employees continues going to the office to answer phones, process mail, prepare reports and administer documents. Their efforts are crucial to enabling the remote work of the rest of the firm.

Those who continue staffing the office include:
Ryan Baker
Kendall Bauer
Kyle Bartsch
Lisa Edgar
Chris Evers
Dan La Nuez
Paige Radke
Zayda Randolph
Debi Rybicki
Jason Scuglik

They describe mixed blessings from maintaining regular office hours while their families and friends stay sheltered at home to stifle the spread of the new coronavirus.

“Most days, I alternate between feeling stressed about having to come into the office and feeling grateful about getting to come into the office,” Paige explains. “The having to aspect comes into play when I begin to question whether it is safe for me to venture out, am I doing enough to protect myself, and am I doing enough to protect the rest of the crew and their families.

“The getting to aspect comes into play,” Paige continues, “when I remember that I am not cooped up in my home, I still have some level of normalcy, and I am able to have daily social interactions.”

Some of the staff depict postapocalyptic scenes of quiet streets, unfilled parking structures and a mostly vacant 30-story office building.

Jason is accustomed to his window’s view of congested freeways at the end of the day. Now they’re deserted.

On the other hand, from the reception desk, Zayda has noticed new signs of life. Residents of nearby apartment buildings who usually would be at work have moved furniture to their balconies and sit outside when the weather permits.

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While contending with their personal concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, workers say, they share a sense of duty to both clients and colleagues. Chris says that has fostered togetherness among the downtown staff.

“There is a feeling of being a last line of defense or even a feeling of ‘it’s time to step up when clients and fellow staff need us most,’” Chris says. “Having staff in the office is extremely important. It provides some sort of normalcy for clients so that there is one less thing that is different.”

“I know that our clients depend on us to be here when they need us,” Jason echoes, “which is why I am proud to be part of the small team that is here, supporting the staff that is working from home as well as those that are here.”

Among adjustments in the office are dressing more casually and finding technological workarounds to bridge the distance with remote staff. Jason has been wiping down door handles and kitchen equipment with disinfectants. Paige waters plants. Twice a week, Kendall leads lunchtime yoga sessions—distancing-appropriate, of course.

Bob Landaas has treated the staff to takeout breakfasts and lunches, which they have used as an opportunity to help support local restaurants that are still open. The office had cookies to share on Christine’s birthday, and remote staff used videoconferencing to sing “Happy Birthday” to her at her desk.

“We are trying to make a fun casual atmosphere while being at work,” Dan says.

Employees say they appreciate the diversions. Besides historic volatility in the stock market, disruptions from the pandemic have resulted in sudden changes in required minimum distribution rules and extended tax deadlines.

“It has been rather crazy,” Debi says. “I think we have all been extremely busy. But the days go by fast.”

As an essential business, Landaas & Company remains open, even though, to its employees, not everything is business as usual.

“It’s not a bad place at all to come to,” Debi says. “I feel safe and needed and am happy to be able to be here to help.”

Jason adds: “I look forward to our community eventually returning to normal, the hustle and bustle returning to our vibrant city and our beautiful lakeshore and, of course, seeing our clients in the office once again.”

Learn more
Keeping balance in unnerving times, by Bob Landaas
A note on coronavirus volatility, by Kyle Tetting
Investors benefit from historic stimulus, by Chris Evers and Patrick Weyer
The Landaas & Company business continuity plan
The Landaas Family, a Money Talk Video
(initially posted May 1, 2020; revised June 5 and Oct. 30, 2020)

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