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Quarantined: Extroverted leader shares how she manages working from home

Col. Lisa Craig, the director of Manpower, Personnel and Services at Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, works from home on March 20. (Courtesy photo)

Col. Lisa Craig, the director of Manpower, Personnel and Services at Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, works from home on March 20. (Courtesy photo)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

Today is March 20. For me, it is Day 6.

I remain symptom free. I am healthy. I know that makes me among the lucky – and hopefully continuing to be lucky – non-COVID-19 stricken. However, life is definitely not normal.

I returned from a TDY visiting our awesome Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 624th Regional Support Group in Hawaii and Guam on Saturday, March 14, to find out the Office of the Air Force Surgeon General indicated that due to the potential of having been exposed, I must self-quarantine and monitor for
14 days.

I am lucky to have a spouse who can absorb day-to-day needs, such as grocery shopping, and my children are grown and out of the house. We have set up a six-foot personal bubble around me. I eat on the far side of a room. I sleep in a guest bedroom. I work out in the morning on my elliptical machine. I ensure anything I touch is well sanitized. I am uber-connected to the news and social media. I choose to remain solidly within my four walls, not even walking the neighborhood; because if I am a carrier, there’s a chance I could impact other people. That’s not a risk I am willing to take.

I am fortunate that I have the technology to remain mostly connected; although as our systems get stressed, so too does my ability to stay connected and continue to lead my team from away. Like everybody else, my team and I are having to get creative to solve problems. When my laptop stopped working, my team sprang into action and retrieved the ineffective hardware from my front porch (after I sanitized it as best I could and put it all in a bag). After the Reserve Comm Focal Point fixed the problem and fully tested the system, my team returned my machine to my front porch.

My hours remain long. Because I am never more than a few feet away from my kitchen office, I am always at work. And, because I am worried about my team’s stressors, I am on the net during all waking hours.

I am lucky that the expert professionals who work for me (they actually work for you in the Air Force Reserve) have a firm grasp on the needs of our Reserve force. They continue to grow the body of knowledge as unique situations arise. Our mission set is complex and touches nearly every aspect of every directorate’s mission sets with personnel implications. It’s a web in which I am stuck in my cocoon.

I provide injects and vectors as requested, but to a lesser degree than I think we’d all prefer. My team always contributes to our body of knowledge and solves problems, but even more so in this time of crisis. They get the job done.

But. … here’s the thing: I am an extreme extrovert. While some folks get their energy and vitality from spending quiet, contemplative time, that’s not me. I get my energy from people, from engagement, from shared experiences, from human contact.

My kitchen-office set up, the technology, the cell phones – they only connect for the requirements (well, mostly). For right now, gone for me are the office exercise sessions and the face-to-face communications with my work family. Gone are the “how was your kid’s soccer game?” and “how is your parent’s health?” hallway conversations. Those things that keep us connected now require a much more diligent and deliberate approach.

I worry about our resiliency. How can we stay spiritually connected? How can I ensure the emotional needs of myself and my A1 work family are covered? What can we do to stay physically healthy?

I know that my situation is easy compared to so many others. I am healthy. I am lucky. But, I am lonely in an unusual way.

We are doing all we can to ensure we will all come through this. I will come through this. I pray we can continue to fulfill and take care of those needs for information and resources for those whose needs are greater than this lonely extrovert. #ReserveResilient

(Craig is the HQ Air Force Reserve Command director of Manpower, Personnel and Services at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.)

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