Living Our Whenever, Wherever, Whatever

The New Kid in Town

Everyone knows about the first-day jitters when starting a new job. Sometimes it feels like it is your very first day on planet Earth – everything is new!  New coworkers, new commute, new technology, oh, and a TONNE of paperwork.

Luckily for me, when I started, many of these things felt familiar. I had been a Nova Mutual Broker partner for 12+ years so my new colleagues were already like friends. I had even been to the offices a few times for Broker visits. In fact, my first day felt just like another Broker visit – it was quite surreal! It was tough to wrap my brain around the fact that I was crossing into the ‘dark side’, becoming an agribusiness underwriter after 15 years as a Broker.

I quickly dove into the onboarding process which included the standard introductions and paperwork. More excitingly though, I began to learn about the Nova Mutual culture. “We can work whenever, wherever, whatever…?” This concept was brand new to me! And while there have been a few hurdles when learning how to manage my time (those dirty dishes from last night keep staring at me when I’m trying to work…!), I am empowered by Leadership to manage my time and tasks as I see fit.

Plot Twist!

When the pandemic arrived in Ontario and the State of Emergency was issued, everything seemed uncertain – except for Nova. On Monday, March 23rd I logged into my computer and there was an e-mail waiting from Leadership, asking the team to work from home until further notice. There wasn’t any confusion or chaos, we continued to offer the same high level of service, we just did it while wearing fuzzy slippers and pajama pants.

In that same e-mail, Leadership also stressed the importance of caring for our families and our health. Many of our Team Members, myself included, now had children at home who needed to be cared for, fed, and entertained. The combined pressure of working from home full time AND being a Mommy during a pandemic is REAL!

That news was such a stress-reliever. It would not have been possible to be as productive as I have been if I had to continue to find childcare because I was being asked to sit in my desk at work….because as an ‘essential service’ (insurance), this totally could have been my reality. I could have been asked to come in. Instead, I work around my home schedule, which often means late nights and early mornings. This may mean that I’m not available for a few hours during the day because of an appointment or because my children need some extra quality time with me – and at Nova, that’s okay. This has been hard on everyone mentally and physically, so flexibility is key.

It’s not always a work/life balance, it’s more like a work/life juggle. It has been amazing to witness the “whenever, wherever, whatever” culture in action. I am very aware that not all my friends have been as lucky with their employment.

Business as Unusual

But, time flies, even during a pandemic, and my first year came to an end in May, right smack dab in the middle of the craziness. With everything going on in the world, work still seems like the most normal thing in my life. Throughout all the uncertainty of 2020, we have been busy at Nova, but our primary focus hasn’t been on figuring out how to work from home or adapting to the newest Health unit regulations. We have been working on projects, collaborating with Broker Partners, supporting our Members, and giving back to our communities as often as we can.

Six months ago, my understanding of what ‘Business Continuity Plan’ means or what it feels like to ‘mom’ in-between video conferences was very different. Year 2 of my career with Nova is looking a little different than I anticipated, and it’s for the better. I am grateful to be part of an organization that was able to continue operating successfully amongst these new challenges and that actually walks the talk of being family-first and employee focused.

Written by Myranda Eechaute, Senior Underwriter