Amazon employee, military spouse and mother of two Michelle Overturf shares advice for adapting to a different workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Amazon employee Michelle shares work-from-home tips

Amazon employee Michelle shares work-from-home tips

 May 05, 2020

Amazon understands that working from home has suddenly become a reality for people who haven't chosen it. Countries the world over are mobilizing to slow the spread of COVID-19, and Amazon has asked employees whose jobs can be done remotely to do their work from home. This new reality—coupled with closed schools, canceled activities, and social distancing—makes life hard to balance.

A mother of two, Michelle Overturf started working from home as part of Amazon's Virtual Customer Service (VCS) program. Her husband was a military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, and the family had just transferred from Fort Bragg, NC, to Northern Virginia. To keep up with the higher cost of living, Michelle became one of the voices you hear when calling Amazon customer support. She now manages a team of 20.

"To be home means I can be present with my kids, especially when my husband was deployed," she explains

Michelle shares tips for maintaining work-life harmony during the COVID‑19 pandemic

"Your job and your home life all start to blend together," she says. "So you need to find ways to keep them separate."

Connect with friends

First, it's important to identify the best parts of your normal workday and try to mimic some of those virtually. The people you would normally vent to or meet for lunch, "make time to connect with them daily," Michelle says. For her team, she schedules small group meetings over video conference. "There's no agenda, really. It's just to connect."

Create a dedicated workspace 

If possible, Michelle recommends dedicating a place in your home for work. For her, it's a room off the garage that she converted into her office. An L-shaped desk faces a wall with her computer monitors. A window to her left provides natural light and a great view of her family’s current home—the town of Star, ID, just outside Boise. But it's the door to her office she considers the most important feature.

"Being able to physically leave at the end of the work day and shut that door behind me makes a big difference," she says. It's a mental shift that allows her to be more present for her two kids and other priorities outside of work. "I make sure that the office is only for work. And that's the only time I'm in there."

Keep work out of sight

She knows not everyone can dedicate a room for their workspace. Whether it's putting your laptop in the closet at the end of the day or covering up your work area, keeping work out of sight helps keep it out of mind when you need to focus on the rest of life. "It makes a huge difference. Your computer isn't right in front of you, waiting for you to check your email."

Prioritize self-care

Michelle's advice to combat the stir crazy? Self-care. In addition to her career, she also helps her kids with school and runs the household when her husband is away. Doing something every day just for her is critical to her mental and physical well-being. For Michelle, that means taking her two 7-month-old dogs for a walk or painting.

“It gets your blood flowing again and it gives you that time to re-group and focus on yourself, doing something you enjoy," she adds.

Join a company that supports flexible working

Amazon understands that every employee is different, so every career path is different too, which is why it supports flexible working, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Get the support you need by applying for a job at Amazon.


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