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Office Optional Series: Megan Schussman

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People and Culture Team

Office Optional: Megan Schussman

Last fall Cogito announced our plans for a workplace that is truly Office Optional, one where Cogicians are empowered to make choices about where they work – whether in a physical Cogito office or not.

In this edition of ‘The Anywhere Office’ we want to introduce Megan Schussman, our People Analytics Specialist. She joined Cogito in January of 2020 and works on our People and Culture team focusing on systems setup/maintenance and data analytics. While originally based at our Boston headquarters she now works remotely from San Francisco, California.

Where is your ‘home office’? Anything fun about your setup?
I am based in San Francisco! Every morning, when I wake up and get ready for the day, my dog jumps out of the armchair where she sleeps and follows me to the kitchen for breakfast. Then we go back upstairs together, I sit in the armchair where she was sleeping; she jumps in my bed and curls up in the warm spot where I was sleeping. So, we essentially switch places.

Tell us a bit about what you do for Cogito.
If there is a spreadsheet that has to do with our Cogicians, odds are high that I made it. I keep our HRIS and survey tools running smoothly, and I have a special place in my heart for combining large amounts of data into easy-to-interpret tools that accomplish the task at hand. I like to think of myself as the backend engineer to the people aspects of the company. I figure out how to apply ideas that improve the life of Cogicians to the tools/systems we have in place, so the ideas can easily and effectively be carried out in our company.

What are you most excited about as we move to an ‘office optional’ workforce?
I’m most excited for the increased opportunities to get to know people who don’t work in the same location! As we grow Cogito to include more people living outside of Boston, we also are coming up with new ideas to encourage people to interact and meet. For example, my team does “Happy Hours,” during which we get together and play games or share stories. Before Cogito was ‘office optional,’ these team gatherings would tend to happen more informally, and often were only for people physically in Boston. Now, with an ‘office optional’ workforce, we are getting to know our teammates much more frequently and closely through regularly scheduled, virtual, social interactions.

What is one thing that surprised you about working remotely when the COVID-19 pandemic began?
I was surprised by how quickly, and seemingly effortlessly we transitioned! It really felt like one day we were all in the office, the following day half of us were in the office, and the day after everyone was at home. While everyone had their own adjustments and difficulties accompanying the sudden switch to remote work, I was surprised and impressed at how Cogito as a whole continued to progress and maintain productivity, while also supporting Cogicians emotionally. Leadership repeatedly encouraged us to take care of ourselves and take the time we need to adjust to the many changes occurring in the world.

From a personal perspective, what is the biggest perk to working remotely?
Honestly, the ability to undergo a period of major change in my life without having to worry about my work was extremely comforting to me. Unforeseen circumstances led me to suddenly move from Boston to California in November. There was a lot of stress involved in moving myself, my dog, and my possessions across the country, in addition to needing to find a new apartment, new roommates, etc. The stability and support from Cogito throughout the move is something I am and always will be grateful for.

I have heard from employees at other companies with ‘office optional’ policies that, while one can technically work from home or move away from the office, it is frowned upon and incurs judgement. At Cogito, I have been truly supported, by my manager and by every coworker. Cogito’s ‘office optional’ culture allowed me to have confidence and consistency in my life when so many other things were changing, and for that, I am extremely grateful.

From a professional perspective, what is the biggest perk to working remotely?
Daily team meetings have been a huge professional perk to working remotely. Before the pandemic, my 3-person team would meet weekly. When remote-work began, we switched to a daily meeting, which has greatly improved our team’s communication and understanding of what each of the other team members is working on.

What are you working on that excites you this year?
I am currently working to combine data from sources such as ADP, our Human Resources Information System, Lever, our Applicant Tracking System, CultureAmp which is our Survey Platform and various internal Google Sheets into a single Tableau dashboard. The goal of the dashboard is to effectively display information on various people and culture metrics such as recruiting, D&I, attrition, engagement, compensation, headcount and budget.

What old or new hobbies are you spending more time on lately?
I took up paint-by-number during quarantine and made some beautiful paintings that I gave as Christmas presents! I have absolutely no artistic skill, but the joy of paint-by-number is that no artistic skill is needed. It is purely a hobby of patience, but it makes truly beautiful pieces of art.

What tips do you have for other people whose companies allow remote work for drawing the line between home and work?
Take a real lunch break! It can be so easy working from home to grab a snack and eat it at your desk, or to bring your computer or your phone with slack/email to the table while you eat. Resist that temptation and take a real break from work to enjoy a meal.

Interested in joining our anywhere office? See our open roles here.

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