Our New Normal Type

Let’s come together (separately!)
to survive working from home, stay healthy, and more…

*Your pets want you to know you’re really disrupting their daytime sleep schedules.

Our new normal type

Let’s come together (separately!)
to survive working from home,
stay healthy, and more…

*Your pets want you to know you’re really disrupting their daytime sleep schedules.

LET US KNOW HOW YOU'RE DOING!

Odyssey appreciates all you are doing to help flatten the curve. This temporary “new normal” for many of you means learning how best to work from home, while for a select group, the mission requires you to be in the office. Both have their challenges, to be sure. Regardless, thanks to all of you, Odyssey’s support to our customers and the warfighter will continue uninterrupted for as long as it takes.

Odyssey appreciates all you are doing to help flatten the curve. This temporary “new normal” for many of you means learning how best to work from home, while for a select group, the mission requires you to be in the office. Both have their challenges, to be sure. Regardless, thanks to all of you, Odyssey’s support to our customers and the warfighter will continue uninterrupted for as long as it takes.

FAQ graphicA collection of answers to questions received by Odyssey’s Team Member Services (TMS) staff on the ins and outs of where, when, and how to work and record your time while we’re on the current modified status. The linked FAQ page will be updated as the situation evolves.

Workplace Policy

Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Sick Leave

Massachusetts Leave Act GraphicUpdated: June 17, 2021

Under the terms of Chapter 16 of the Acts of 2021 (An Act Providing for Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave), which was enacted by the Legislature and signed by Governor Baker, effective May 28, 2021, employers are required to make paid leave time available to employees for COVID-related illnesses, quarantine, and vaccinations, and then may apply for reimbursement from the state.

To learn more, visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-temporary-emergency-paid-sick-leave-program.

COVID-19 Update, December 10, 2020

Updated: December 10, 2020

Tom PortlockHello,

For the past nine months, we have all been dealing with the frustration of the seemingly endless pandemic, adjusting to telework, navigating remote learning with our children, social distancing, searching for the perfect fitting mask, “Zoom”ing, and simply acclimating to a vaxx_illustration“new normal”. The pandemic has lasted much too long, we have witnessed friends and family members inflicted, and we’re all growing weary. It’s been a grind for sure, but brighter days are ahead of us as we’re on the precipice of initial vaccine distribution and we will eventually resume some semblance of normalcy at some point in 2021.

We have adapted to federal and state-specific guidance throughout the pandemic, but with the surge in reported cases, rising hospitalizations, and increased death statistics over recent weeks, we will be closing our Corporate Office once again, effective Monday, December 14 until sometime after the New Year (tentatively January 11, 2021). The office will remain accessible for specific actions not able to be performed remotely (e.g. processing physical checks), but regular daily work performance should be conducted remotely.

I am urging our field offices to follow suit (if not already) utilizing remote telework to the maximum extent practicable. While Odyssey falls under the definition of Defense Industrial Base Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, I want to ensure the continued health and safety of our employees and their families while doing our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Much of our customer-facing “direct-charge” workforce has been and continues to support our customers via telework with a few exceptions. In some cases, employees had returned to their physical offices, but we are seeing a shift back to telework. As we have since March, we continue to operate our business at full capacity-albeit using different means both at our customer locations and field offices. I ask you all to continue to maintain your high levels of customer service and dedication to the mission.

Thank you, again, for all you do every day. And PLEASE, stay healthy and stay strong.

With best regards,

Tom

signature

Ready & Resilient

Updated: November 16, 2020

Tom PortlockMy daughter’s college penned its COVID-19 preparedness program “Ready & Resilient”. It’s also the US Army’s strategy for strengthening individual and unit Personal Readiness. Given the recent trend of increasing positive COVID tests and the extended duration of the pandemic, “Ready & Resilient” seems an apropos message for us all to heed.

In the months since March, many Americans have habituated to the horrors of the pandemic. As the holiday season approaches and we plan for family gatherings, we are facing a third pandemic surge that is bigger and broader than the previous two. According to the CDC, surveillance indicators tracking levels of SARS-CoV-2 virus circulation and associated illnesses nationally have been increasing since September. The percentage of deaths due to pneumonia, influenza, and COVID-19 (PIC) increased during the first three weeks of October. In the U.S., states now report more people in the hospital with COVID-19 than at any other point this year—and 40 percent more than just two weeks ago. The struggles of the first two COVID-19 surges in the United States helped hospitals steel themselves for the third. Hardened by the crucible of March and April, New York City built up its ability to spot burgeoning hot spots, trace contacts, and offer places where infected people can isolate. “We’re seeing red flags but we’ve prepared ourselves,” says Syra Madad from NYC Health + Hospitals. Experienced health-care workers are less fearful than they were earlier this year. “We’ve been through this before and we know what we have to do,” says Uché Blackstock, an emergency physician who works in Brooklyn. And with the new generation of rapid tests, Blackstock says she can now tell patients if they have the coronavirus within minutes—a huge improvement over the spring when tests were scarce and slow.

The first two surges were concentrated in specific parts of the country, so beleaguered hospitals could call for help from states that weren’t besieged. “People were coming to us in our hour of need,” says Madad, from NYC Health + Hospitals, “but now the entire nation is on fire.”

These latest trends are worrisome, but should not paralyze us. The best strategy remains the obvious one: Keep people from getting infected at all. Once again, the country’s success in dealing with and overcoming the virus depends on the collective action of its citizens. Once again, the nation must flatten the curve. This need not involve a lockdown. We now know that the coronavirus mostly spreads through the air, and does so easily when people spend prolonged periods together in poorly ventilated areas. People can reduce their risk by wearing masks and avoiding indoor spaces where the possibility of transmission is especially high. As I wrote back in May, I believe we all have the strength to overcome any situation we find ourselves in with calmness, resilience, persistence, and kindness. I ask you all to continue to exercise these useful behaviors.

Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas gatherings, for which several generations will travel around the country for days of close indoor contact and constant conversation, will be risky too. But that does not mean we cannot enjoy this time and reconnect with loved ones. The CDC recognizes the COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful and isolating for many people. Gatherings during the upcoming holidays can be an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends and celebrating virtually or with members of your own household (who are consistently taking measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19) will pose the lowest risk for spread. Please see additional tips on the CDC webpage—I hope you all have an enjoyable holiday.

We will, eventually, emerge from this pandemic stronger than we were back in March. Keep up the good work—continue to follow CDC guidelines for hygiene, social distancing, and personal protection. Stay Safe—Stay Healthy—and Be Well!

signature

COVID Fatigue

Updated: August 18, 2020

Tom PortlockOne description trending now is “COVID fatigue.” It’s real and it’s strong. The coronavirus—with its quarantines, shortages, prolonged lack of contact with friends and loved ones, limitations on normal day-to-day life, job losses and furloughs, economic uncertainty, canceled vacations and family celebrations and, at its worst, sickness and death—is taking its toll. Fear and frustration have depleted the reserves of many people, even those who are normally patient and even-tempered.

COVID FatigueCOVID fatigue “is a real challenge,” said Kaye Hermanson, a University of California-Davis Health psychologist in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “There are no easy solutions.”

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have paths to help ourselves and others. It starts with understanding why so many people feel frazzled. Knowing why we feel that everything is abnormal can help us feel normal. Abnormal is the new normal – at least for the time being.

“We know there are two kinds of stress that have long-term effects on our mental well-being and physical health – intense stress and prolonged stress,” Hermanson said. “We have both.” Add to that the uncertainty about, well, almost everything. “We have unknowns in every part of our lives,” she said. “At the same time, a lot of the things we generally do to cope, the things we enjoy and that give life meaning, have changed or been put off-limits.”

The stages of disaster stress

There is research that defines the stages of stress on communities from disasters. If it makes anyone feel better, as a society, we are right on target. Early, during, or right after a disaster, communities tend to pull together. People support each other and create a sense of community bonding, Hermanson said. Think back to the first weeks of the stay-at-home orders when everyone in neighborhoods waved to everyone else.

“Eventually, that heroic spirit wears thin as the difficulties and stress build-up. That’s when we hit the disillusionment phase,” Hermanson said. “We lose our optimism and start to have negative or angry reactions. That’s about where we stand now as a society. “Many people are exhausted by it all,” she said. “Some are saying they don’t care if they get COVID-19. They’d rather risk getting sick than stay home or be careful. Others have simply stopped listening to health leaders and science.”

This phase could last a while, in part because the ‘disaster’—the COVID-19 pandemic—is still going on. “Research shows that disillusionment can last up to a year from the start of the disaster,” she said. “And this pandemic is like nothing we’ve experienced before, and it’s not over yet.” COVID-19 may trigger anxiety and depression, but it also has the ability to trigger resilience and recovery as well. If we can keep a day-to-day mentality, being in the positive, knowing that the situation is fluid, we are a resilient people and we will prevail. This will pass.

How to cope

So, how do we cope with this constant change and uncertainty? For starters, clinical psychologist Dr. Wayne Pernell said to do something as simple as reminding yourself of the things you have grown to like about this new normal. “We really need to take time for ourselves and to recognize that there are some things we like about the new schedule. My commute has been reduced to about 30 seconds,” Pernell chuckled.

Other examples of this are getting to spend time with your kids or having lunch every day with a significant other, things that would not have been possible without current restrictions. Dr. Pernell also said to give yourself a break and recognize when others need it too. “We all get to this place of a little irritation or a little ‘I’ve had enough.’ Allow that, recognize it, acknowledge it, and don’t try and make it better,” he said.

Keeping with the trend of thinking positively, Dr. Pernell said he sees this as a time to really hone the skills we are gaining. Given what we are all going through, we will be more resilient and courageous, things that will serve us well going forward. We can help ourselves. I know I’ve said this before, but it’s true: It’s time to develop coping skills. Those include:

ExerciseExercise: It’s the No. 1 best thing we can do for coping. Any exercise—even a simple walk—helps. It releases endorphins, gets some of the adrenaline out when the frustration builds up. Just getting out and moving can be really helpful for people.

TalkingTalking: This really helps, too. Just saying it out loud is important. Find the right places and times, but do it. Ignoring feelings doesn’t make them go away. It’s like trying to hold a beachball underwater—eventually, you lose control and it pops out. You can’t control where it goes or who it hits.

Constructive ThinkingConstructive thinking: We may think it is the situation that causes our feelings, but actually, our feelings come from our thoughts about the situation. We can’t change the situation, but we can adjust our thinking. Be compassionate with yourself and others. Remind yourself, ‘I’m doing the best I can.

GratitudeMindfulness and gratitude: The more you do this, the easier it gets. Try being in the moment. You’re right here, in this chair, breathing and looking around. We put ourselves through a lot of unnecessary misery projecting into the future or ruminating about the past. For now, just take life day by day.

There will come a day when the practices of social distancing and wearing a mask will no longer be required. But until that day arrives, public health experts and infectious disease specialists alike urge everyone to continue those proven mitigation strategies to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Be well—stay safe—and stay strong, everyone. We are all in this, and will get through this, together!
signature

COVID-19 Update, December 10, 2020

Updated: December 10, 2020

Tom PortlockHello,

For the past nine months, we have all been dealing with the frustration of the seemingly endless pandemic, adjusting to telework, navigating remote learning with our children, social distancing, searching for the perfect fitting mask, “Zoom”ing, and simply acclimating to a vaxx_illustration“new normal”. The pandemic has lasted much too long, we have witnessed friends and family members inflicted, and we’re all growing weary. It’s been a grind for sure, but brighter days are ahead of us as we’re on the precipice of initial vaccine distribution and we will eventually resume some semblance of normalcy at some point in 2021.

We have adapted to federal and state-specific guidance throughout the pandemic, but with the surge in reported cases, rising hospitalizations, and increased death statistics over recent weeks, we will be closing our Corporate Office once again, effective Monday, December 14 until sometime after the New Year (tentatively January 11, 2021). The office will remain accessible for specific actions not able to be performed remotely (e.g. processing physical checks), but regular daily work performance should be conducted remotely.

I am urging our field offices to follow suit (if not already) utilizing remote telework to the maximum extent practicable. While Odyssey falls under the definition of Defense Industrial Base Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, I want to ensure the continued health and safety of our employees and their families while doing our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Much of our customer-facing “direct-charge” workforce has been and continues to support our customers via telework with a few exceptions. In some cases, employees had returned to their physical offices, but we are seeing a shift back to telework. As we have since March, we continue to operate our business at full capacity-albeit using different means both at our customer locations and field offices. I ask you all to continue to maintain your high levels of customer service and dedication to the mission.

Thank you, again, for all you do every day. And PLEASE, stay healthy and stay strong.

With best regards,

Tom

signature

Ready & Resilient

Updated: November 16, 2020

Tom PortlockMy daughter’s college penned its COVID-19 preparedness program “Ready & Resilient”. It’s also the US Army’s strategy for strengthening individual and unit Personal Readiness. Given the recent trend of increasing positive COVID tests and the extended duration of the pandemic, “Ready & Resilient” seems an apropos message for us all to heed.

In the months since March, many Americans have habituated to the horrors of the pandemic. As the holiday season approaches and we plan for family gatherings, we are facing a third pandemic surge that is bigger and broader than the previous two. According to the CDC, surveillance indicators tracking levels of SARS-CoV-2 virus circulation and associated illnesses nationally have been increasing since September. The percentage of deaths due to pneumonia, influenza, and COVID-19 (PIC) increased during the first three weeks of October. In the U.S., states now report more people in the hospital with COVID-19 than at any other point this year—and 40 percent more than just two weeks ago. The struggles of the first two COVID-19 surges in the United States helped hospitals steel themselves for the third. Hardened by the crucible of March and April, New York City built up its ability to spot burgeoning hot spots, trace contacts, and offer places where infected people can isolate. “We’re seeing red flags but we’ve prepared ourselves,” says Syra Madad from NYC Health + Hospitals. Experienced health-care workers are less fearful than they were earlier this year. “We’ve been through this before and we know what we have to do,” says Uché Blackstock, an emergency physician who works in Brooklyn. And with the new generation of rapid tests, Blackstock says she can now tell patients if they have the coronavirus within minutes—a huge improvement over the spring when tests were scarce and slow.

The first two surges were concentrated in specific parts of the country, so beleaguered hospitals could call for help from states that weren’t besieged. “People were coming to us in our hour of need,” says Madad, from NYC Health + Hospitals, “but now the entire nation is on fire.”

These latest trends are worrisome, but should not paralyze us. The best strategy remains the obvious one: Keep people from getting infected at all. Once again, the country’s success in dealing with and overcoming the virus depends on the collective action of its citizens. Once again, the nation must flatten the curve. This need not involve a lockdown. We now know that the coronavirus mostly spreads through the air, and does so easily when people spend prolonged periods together in poorly ventilated areas. People can reduce their risk by wearing masks and avoiding indoor spaces where the possibility of transmission is especially high. As I wrote back in May, I believe we all have the strength to overcome any situation we find ourselves in with calmness, resilience, persistence, and kindness. I ask you all to continue to exercise these useful behaviors.

Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas gatherings, for which several generations will travel around the country for days of close indoor contact and constant conversation, will be risky too. But that does not mean we cannot enjoy this time and reconnect with loved ones. The CDC recognizes the COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful and isolating for many people. Gatherings during the upcoming holidays can be an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends and celebrating virtually or with members of your own household (who are consistently taking measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19) will pose the lowest risk for spread. Please see additional tips on the CDC webpage—I hope you all have an enjoyable holiday.

We will, eventually, emerge from this pandemic stronger than we were back in March. Keep up the good work—continue to follow CDC guidelines for hygiene, social distancing, and personal protection. Stay Safe—Stay Healthy—and Be Well!

signature

COVID Fatigue

Updated: August 18, 2020

Tom PortlockOne description trending now is “COVID fatigue.” It’s real and it’s strong. The coronavirus—with its quarantines, shortages, prolonged lack of contact with friends and loved ones, limitations on normal day-to-day life, job losses and furloughs, economic uncertainty, canceled vacations and family celebrations and, at its worst, sickness and death—is taking its toll. Fear and frustration have depleted the reserves of many people, even those who are normally patient and even-tempered.

COVID FatigueCOVID fatigue “is a real challenge,” said Kaye Hermanson, a University of California-Davis Health psychologist in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “There are no easy solutions.”

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have paths to help ourselves and others. It starts with understanding why so many people feel frazzled. Knowing why we feel that everything is abnormal can help us feel normal. Abnormal is the new normal – at least for the time being.

“We know there are two kinds of stress that have long-term effects on our mental well-being and physical health – intense stress and prolonged stress,” Hermanson said. “We have both.” Add to that the uncertainty about, well, almost everything. “We have unknowns in every part of our lives,” she said. “At the same time, a lot of the things we generally do to cope, the things we enjoy and that give life meaning, have changed or been put off-limits.”

The stages of disaster stress

There is research that defines the stages of stress on communities from disasters. If it makes anyone feel better, as a society, we are right on target. Early, during, or right after a disaster, communities tend to pull together. People support each other and create a sense of community bonding, Hermanson said. Think back to the first weeks of the stay-at-home orders when everyone in neighborhoods waved to everyone else.

“Eventually, that heroic spirit wears thin as the difficulties and stress build-up. That’s when we hit the disillusionment phase,” Hermanson said. “We lose our optimism and start to have negative or angry reactions. That’s about where we stand now as a society. “Many people are exhausted by it all,” she said. “Some are saying they don’t care if they get COVID-19. They’d rather risk getting sick than stay home or be careful. Others have simply stopped listening to health leaders and science.”

This phase could last a while, in part because the ‘disaster’—the COVID-19 pandemic—is still going on. “Research shows that disillusionment can last up to a year from the start of the disaster,” she said. “And this pandemic is like nothing we’ve experienced before, and it’s not over yet.” COVID-19 may trigger anxiety and depression, but it also has the ability to trigger resilience and recovery as well. If we can keep a day-to-day mentality, being in the positive, knowing that the situation is fluid, we are a resilient people and we will prevail. This will pass.

How to cope

So, how do we cope with this constant change and uncertainty? For starters, clinical psychologist Dr. Wayne Pernell said to do something as simple as reminding yourself of the things you have grown to like about this new normal. “We really need to take time for ourselves and to recognize that there are some things we like about the new schedule. My commute has been reduced to about 30 seconds,” Pernell chuckled.

Other examples of this are getting to spend time with your kids or having lunch every day with a significant other, things that would not have been possible without current restrictions. Dr. Pernell also said to give yourself a break and recognize when others need it too. “We all get to this place of a little irritation or a little ‘I’ve had enough.’ Allow that, recognize it, acknowledge it, and don’t try and make it better,” he said.

Keeping with the trend of thinking positively, Dr. Pernell said he sees this as a time to really hone the skills we are gaining. Given what we are all going through, we will be more resilient and courageous, things that will serve us well going forward. We can help ourselves. I know I’ve said this before, but it’s true: It’s time to develop coping skills. Those include:

ExerciseExercise: It’s the No. 1 best thing we can do for coping. Any exercise—even a simple walk—helps. It releases endorphins, gets some of the adrenaline out when the frustration builds up. Just getting out and moving can be really helpful for people.

TalkingTalking: This really helps, too. Just saying it out loud is important. Find the right places and times, but do it. Ignoring feelings doesn’t make them go away. It’s like trying to hold a beachball underwater—eventually, you lose control and it pops out. You can’t control where it goes or who it hits.

Constructive ThinkingConstructive thinking: We may think it is the situation that causes our feelings, but actually, our feelings come from our thoughts about the situation. We can’t change the situation, but we can adjust our thinking. Be compassionate with yourself and others. Remind yourself, ‘I’m doing the best I can.

GratitudeMindfulness and gratitude: The more you do this, the easier it gets. Try being in the moment. You’re right here, in this chair, breathing and looking around. We put ourselves through a lot of unnecessary misery projecting into the future or ruminating about the past. For now, just take life day by day.

There will come a day when the practices of social distancing and wearing a mask will no longer be required. But until that day arrives, public health experts and infectious disease specialists alike urge everyone to continue those proven mitigation strategies to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Be well—stay safe—and stay strong, everyone. We are all in this, and will get through this, together!
signature

The Importance of Time Off

Updated: July 23, 2020

Tom PortlockTaking a day off might not seem like a priority in the midst of a global pandemic, particularly when widespread lockdown measures earlier this year limited downtime to the confines of our own home, but experts say not taking any time out could actually be detrimental to productivity.

No one can work non-stop and be productive, particularly in the context of a global pandemic, you need to take a break before you break. While you may not be able to take the vacation abroad that you hoped for, downtime regardless is not just a “nice to have,” it’s essential.

Ellie Green, a jobs expert at Totaljobs, said that dealing with new stresses in these exceptional times means taking care of your mental wellbeing matters more than ever. “If that means using up some of your holiday allowance and doing what you can to relax or do something you enjoy at home—you can,” she said.

Illustration of fishing

Vacations and time to detach from work at the weekend are important in enabling us to sustain performance, productivity, creativity, and prevent burnout, said Simmy Grover, who lectures on organizational psychology at University College London. “You can’t have sustained periods of stress without burnout unless you’re recovering. Although the ways people recover from a day of work have been constrained by lockdown it is important to still find a method to detach.

Athletes have long recognized that recovery is an essential part of peak performance; the same principle rings true for everyone. When we take care of ourselves, we see benefits to our physical and mental health, performance, and productivity. When we don’t, we pay a price: innovation, creativity, resilience, empathy, decision-making, and team-building are the first to disappear when we are burned out and depleted.

Do you need more evidence to convince yourself (or your boss—though I hope that’s not the case), about the importance of taking time off? Try these on for size:

clarity1. Mental Clarity: When you push yourself to work too many days in a row, eventually your brain will start to push back. Your thoughts will get cloudy, your creativity will diminish, and you’ll have a harder time dealing with stress. If you don’t rest your brain, the side effects will continue to multiply. Luckily, even a single day off can bring you back into a state of mental clarity. As Clinical Psychologist Deborah Mulhern stated in a USNews.com article, “Without time and opportunity to [relax], the neural connections that produce feelings of calm and peacefulness become weaker, making it actually more difficult to shift into less-stressed modes.

Beyond simply helping you to recharge and feel less stressed, studies suggest that taking a vacation is also key to one’s overall health and wellness. A USTA Study found that men who don’t take vacations are more likely to suffer from heart disease, while women who don’t take time off are more likely to suffer from depression.

productivity2. Improved Productivity: When we start to feel burned out at work, even the simplest of tasks becomes a challenge. Our passion starts to dull, and we lose some of our drive. If you’ve ever felt refreshed after stepping away from your desk and taking a walk, you understand how a break can improve your productivity. Take off a few days or a week and you’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready to take on new challenges.

balance3. Better Balance: It’s hard to maintain a positive work-life balance in even the best of circumstances. When you’re chronically overworked, you can start to lose your sense of self. Your hobbies and interests fall to the wayside as you focus all of your energy on your career. Taking time away from work gives you a chance to rekindle your joy and remember what life was like before you became relentlessly busy.

focus4. Improved Focus: No matter how much you love your job, doing the same thing day in and day out can wear on you. Taking time away gives you the chance to refocus on your goals and look at things from a fresh perspective. You’ll be surprised how many great ideas come up when you step away from the monotony for a day or two.

heart5. Better Relationships: While it’s important to focus on your career, you also need to work on your relationships. If you’re constantly logging in long hours at the office or checking your phone and email all evening, the important people in your life will start feeling neglected. Even a short vacation allows you to unplug from your job and spend quality time with your loved ones. While perhaps an ideal vacation to a remote beach in Fiji may not be in the cards right about now, you don’t need a grand vacation to reap the benefits of taking a break.

Of course, without a vaccine, it’s nearly impossible to guarantee any place other than your home is safe. But with a few tweaks, it is possible to lower risks associated with travel. Just remember, the pandemic is an evolving situation and it’s crucial to follow guidelines set forth by organizations such as the CDC and WHO, and practice safety measures, no matter where you go or what you do, including wearing a mask, washing your hands and maintaining social distancing.

Best wishes for an enjoyable, relaxing, and safe summer.
signature

The Importance of Time Off

Updated: July 23, 2020

Tom PortlockTaking a day off might not seem like a priority in the midst of a global pandemic, particularly when widespread lockdown measures earlier this year limited downtime to the confines of our own home, but experts say not taking any time out could actually be detrimental to productivity.

No one can work non-stop and be productive, particularly in the context of a global pandemic, you need to take a break before you break. While you may not be able to take the vacation abroad that you hoped for, downtime regardless is not just a “nice to have,” it’s essential.

Ellie Green, a jobs expert at Totaljobs, said that dealing with new stresses in these exceptional times means taking care of your mental wellbeing matters more than ever. “If that means using up some of your holiday allowance and doing what you can to relax or do something you enjoy at home—you can,” she said.

Vacations and time to detach from work at the weekend are important in enabling us to sustain performance, productivity, creativity,

Illustration of fishing

and prevent burnout, said Simmy Grover, who lectures on organizational psychology at University College London. “You can’t have sustained periods of stress without burnout unless you’re recovering. Although the ways people recover from a day of work have been constrained by lockdown it is important to still find a method to detach.

Athletes have long recognized that recovery is an essential part of peak performance; the same principle rings true for everyone. When we take care of ourselves, we see benefits to our physical and mental health, performance, and productivity. When we don’t, we pay a price: innovation, creativity, resilience, empathy, decision-making, and team-building are the first to disappear when we are burned out and depleted.

Do you need more evidence to convince yourself (or your boss—though I hope that’s not the case), about the importance of taking time off? Try these on for size:

clarity1. Mental Clarity: When you push yourself to work too many days in a row, eventually your brain will start to push back. Your thoughts will get cloudy, your creativity will diminish, and you’ll have a harder time dealing with stress. If you don’t rest your brain, the side effects will continue to multiply. Luckily, even a single day off can bring you back into a state of mental clarity. As Clinical Psychologist Deborah Mulhern stated in a USNews.com article, “Without time and opportunity to [relax], the neural connections that produce feelings of calm and peacefulness become weaker, making it actually more difficult to shift into less-stressed modes.

Beyond simply helping you to recharge and feel less stressed, studies suggest that taking a vacation is also key to one’s overall health and wellness. A USTA Study found that men who don’t take vacations are more likely to suffer from heart disease, while women who don’t take time off are more likely to suffer from depression.

productivity2. Improved Productivity: When we start to feel burned out at work, even the simplest of tasks becomes a challenge. Our passion starts to dull, and we lose some of our drive. If you’ve ever felt refreshed after stepping away from your desk and taking a walk, you understand how a break can improve your productivity. Take off a few days or a week and you’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready to take on new challenges.

balance3. Better Balance: It’s hard to maintain a positive work-life balance in even the best of circumstances. When you’re chronically overworked, you can start to lose your sense of self. Your hobbies and interests fall to the wayside as you focus all of your energy on your career. Taking time away from work gives you a chance to rekindle your joy and remember what life was like before you became relentlessly busy.

focus4. Improved Focus: No matter how much you love your job, doing the same thing day in and day out can wear on you. Taking time away gives you the chance to refocus on your goals and look at things from a fresh perspective. You’ll be surprised how many great ideas come up when you step away from the monotony for a day or two.

heart5. Better Relationships: While it’s important to focus on your career, you also need to work on your relationships. If you’re constantly logging in long hours at the office or checking your phone and email all evening, the important people in your life will start feeling neglected. Even a short vacation allows you to unplug from your job and spend quality time with your loved ones. While perhaps an ideal vacation to a remote beach in Fiji may not be in the cards right about now, you don’t need a grand vacation to reap the benefits of taking a break.

Of course, without a vaccine, it’s nearly impossible to guarantee any place other than your home is safe. But with a few tweaks, it is possible to lower risks associated with travel. Just remember, the pandemic is an evolving situation and it’s crucial to follow guidelines set forth by organizations such as the CDC and WHO, and practice safety measures, no matter where you go or what you do, including wearing a mask, washing your hands and maintaining social distancing.

Best wishes for an enjoyable, relaxing, and safe summer.

signature

COVID-19 Update 6/15/20

Updated: June 15, 2020

Tom PortlockIt’s been a long road since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic in mid-March and we all have endured a lot. The country essentially shut down and we adjusted the way we operate personally and professionally to weather the storm.  We thank you for the resiliency you all have demonstrated. We’ve endured! Now, we’re switching gears again and beginning to resume pre-COVID activities.

While each Government Agency and Base or Post, State, City, Town, Borough, and Hamlet are moving at their own pace, local businesses are opening their doors again. Restaurants previously closed or only offering take-out are now welcoming al fresco dining. Retail businesses are re-opening with social distancing guidelines and people are even beginning to think about travel again as destinations such as Universal & Disney reopen.

Here at Odyssey, our corporate office & many field locations are “open” again (albeit at reduced on-site occupancy) and our customers are hard at work devising their own plans for transitioning back to the workplace.

Two weeks ago, I asked for your feedback on lessons learned during the pandemic and many responses extolled the effectiveness of telework and expressed a desire for it to become a permanent work alternative. As you’re aware, for our customer-facing employees (92% of our company), we operate under the requirements of the contracts we hold in the manner our customers deem most appropriate for their needs. In most cases, telework was NOT allowed on our contracts prior to COVID-19. In some cases, our customers’ perspectives have not changed—in others, they MAY. It is entirely their call and we will continue to support them with the same level of professionalism and dedication regardless of the location in which we do so. But know that our management teams are in regular discussions with them and as we learn more of their plans, we will communicate them with you.

On the topic of communication, I hope you have found my COVID-19 Updates over the past few months helpful. I felt it was important to stay connected and share some words of encouragement during these difficult times. As we’re entering a new phase of life as we know it, I’ve decided to reduce the frequency of these updates to semi-monthly (1st and 15th) for the time being. When it is appropriate, I will move to a monthly company email update. I’m hopeful, at that time, that I’ll be able to hit the road again and visit with you all in person as I resume on-site all-hands and roundtables.

Thank you again for everything you do and I hope you are all well!

signature

COVID-19 Update 6/15/20

Updated: June 15, 2020

Tom PortlockIt’s been a long road since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic in mid-March and we all have endured a lot. The country essentially shut down and we adjusted the way we operate personally and professionally to weather the storm.  We thank you for the resiliency you all have demonstrated. We’ve endured! Now, we’re switching gears again and beginning to resume pre-COVID activities.

While each Government Agency and Base or Post, State, City, Town, Borough, and Hamlet are moving at their own pace, local businesses are opening their doors again. Restaurants previously closed or only offering take-out are now welcoming al fresco dining. Retail businesses are re-opening with social distancing guidelines and people are even beginning to think about travel again as destinations such as Universal & Disney reopen.

Here at Odyssey, our corporate office & many field locations are “open” again (albeit at reduced on-site occupancy) and our customers are hard at work devising their own plans for transitioning back to the workplace.

Two weeks ago, I asked for your feedback on lessons learned during the pandemic and many responses extolled the effectiveness of telework and expressed a desire for it to become a permanent work alternative. As you’re aware, for our customer-facing employees (92% of our company), we operate under the requirements of the contracts we hold in the manner our customers deem most appropriate for their needs. In most cases, telework was NOT allowed on our contracts prior to COVID-19. In some cases, our customers’ perspectives have not changed—in others, they MAY. It is entirely their call and we will continue to support them with the same level of professionalism and dedication regardless of the location in which we do so. But know that our management teams are in regular discussions with them and as we learn more of their plans, we will communicate them with you.

On the topic of communication, I hope you have found my COVID-19 Updates over the past few months helpful. I felt it was important to stay connected and share some words of encouragement during these difficult times. As we’re entering a new phase of life as we know it, I’ve decided to reduce the frequency of these updates to semi-monthly (1st and 15th) for the time being. When it is appropriate, I will move to a monthly company email update. I’m hopeful, at that time, that I’ll be able to hit the road again and visit with you all in person as I resume on-site all-hands and roundtables.

Thank you again for everything you do and I hope you are all well!

signature

Lessons Learned…

Updated: June 1, 2020

Tom PortlockOne of the underlying principles of our business model has always been one of continuous improvement. When we were thrust into broad remote telework 11 weeks ago, our standard operating environment was stressed andeveryone had to acclimate. Some were well suited to the new structure while others had a more difficult time adjusting. Some of us have begun returning to our offices (we opened the corporate office in Wakefield with a 25% on-site staff today and our Niceville FL and Colorado Springs field offices are open as well) and are now re-adjusting to that environment.

Throughout these past three months, we’ve all learned something about ourselves individually and the way we conduct our business collectively. I know some of you have missed the daily social interaction

with co-workers (right Stu?) and others ramped up formal one-to-one dialogues because of the physical separation. Some even learned new skills (Video chat and file-sharing ring a bell?).

I am really interested to hear from you, our Odyssey Team, on what you have learned during this pandemic about conducting remote operations and how what you’ve discovered or adjusted has impacted your ability to get the job done. Email me your thoughts and I’ll consolidate your responses reporting back any major themes.

Thank you all for your continued dedication. I hope you and your families all remain healthy and are in good spirits.

signature

Lessons Learned…

Updated: June 1, 2020

Tom PortlockOne of the underlying principles of our business model has always been one of continuous improvement. When we were thrust into broad remote telework 11 weeks ago, our standard operating environment was stressed and everyone had to acclimate. Some were well suited to the new structure while others had a more difficult time adjusting. Some of us have begun returning to our offices (we opened the corporate office in Wakefield with a 25% on-site staff today and our Niceville FL and Colorado Springs field offices are open as well) and are now re-adjusting to that environment.

Throughout these past three months, we’ve all learned something about ourselves individually and the way we conduct our business collectively. I know some of you have missed the daily social interaction with co-workers (right Stu?) and others ramped up formal one-to-one dialogues because of the physical separation. Some even learned new skills (Video chat and file-sharing ring a bell?).

I am really interested to hear from you, our Odyssey Team, on what you have learned during this pandemic about conducting remote operations and how what you’ve discovered or adjusted has impacted your ability to get the job done. Email me your thoughts and I’ll consolidate your responses reporting back any major themes.

Thank you all for your continued dedication. I hope you and your families all remain healthy and are in good spirits.

signature

Covid-19 Update…

Updated: May 18, 2020

Tom PortlockStay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders around the country have been lifted in almost every state and some restrictions on businesses and public places have been eased. The process by which we arrived at this juncture has not been an easy one. Public opinion has been stressed, understandably so, as to the proper timing and conditions to re-open the economy. I am not here to take a stand or preach my personal opinions.

Everyone has a right to feel the way they feel and I can only control my actions and reactions to others’ behavior or statements. I choose to remain positive and request everyone at Odyssey to act similarly, especially when returning to your traditional work location—whenever that may be. As I’ve reported before, each of our customers has their own timeline for returning to the office, and they are all developing plans and accompanying restrictions or guidelines to ensure a safe return to work. I urge everyone to heed these instructions when they are published and continue to follow CDC guidelines for proper hygiene, protection, and sanitization for the foreseeable future.

Odyssey Facemask

On the subject of personal protection, the facemasks Odyssey ordered for everyone are in production and are expected to ship to our Wakefield office on May 25. As soon as we receive them we will ship masks to our offices in Dayton OH, Warner Robbins GA, Niceville FL, Colorado Springs CO, Bedford MA, and Fairfax VA for our employees at those locations—local managers will coordinate distribution. Employees at other remote locations will have their masks shipped to their homes.

As always, I wish you all, and your families continued health and happiness.

Take care,

signature

Let us know how you’re doing by using the interactive form at the bottom of this page.

Covid-19 Update…

Updated: May 18, 2020

Tom PortlockStay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders around the country have been lifted in almost every state and some restrictions on businesses and public places have been eased. The process by which we arrived at this juncture has not been an easy one. Public opinion has been stressed, understandably so, as to the proper timing and conditions to re-open the economy. I am not here to take a stand or preach my personal opinions.

Odyssey FacemaskEveryone has a right to feel the way they feel and I can only control my actions and reactions to others’ behavior or statements. I choose to remain positive and request everyone at Odyssey to act similarly, especially when returning to your traditional work location—whenever that may be. As I’ve reported before, each of our customers has their own timeline for returning to the office, and they are all developing plans and accompanying restrictions or guidelines to ensure a safe return to work. I urge everyone to heed these instructions when they are published and continue to follow CDC guidelines for proper hygiene, protection, and sanitization for the foreseeable future.

On the subject of personal protection, the facemasks Odyssey ordered for everyone are in production and are expected to ship to our Wakefield office on May 25. As soon as we receive them we will ship masks to our offices in Dayton OH, Warner Robbins GA, Niceville FL, Colorado Springs CO, Bedford MA, and Fairfax VA for our employees at those locations—local managers will coordinate distribution. Employees at other remote locations will have their masks shipped to their homes.

As always, I wish you all, and your families continued health and happiness.

Take care,

signature

Let us know how you’re doing by using the interactive form at the bottom of this page.

Words of Encouragement…

Updated: May 11, 2020

Tom PortlockOne of the biggest obstacles to navigating times of change is overcoming the natural resistance to it. COVID-19 has caused extensive and fast-moving change in every organization. Situations are fluid, and what was permissible or advisable a week ago likely isn’t today. As the curve of COVID-19 infections begins to level off and as government shelter-in-place and similar orders begin to expire, we are facing the reality of returning to work. This reality is stressful—on many levels—but it is a reality we must face, and we must face it head-on.

Calmness graphic

I believe we all have the strength to overcome any situation we find ourselves in. Research tells us there is a strong relationship between a calm mind and being successful. The result of what we do in that difficult moment makes the difference between success and no success.

Today, I’d like to offer some words of encouragement—not my own—but something I hope will help lead you through these times of change with calmness, resilience, persistence, and kindness.

Calmness

Practice being calm. Start your days with it. Calm is a great place to start moving forward, left, right, or even back. A calm mind is a mind that is in control. A stressed mind takes control over you. A calm mind is there to serve you.

“I breathe in calmness, I breathe out stress.”
~ Anonymous

“When adversity strikes, that’s when you have to be the most calm. Take a step back, stay strong, stay grounded, and press on.”
~ LL Cool J.

“Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.”
~ George Herbert

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”
~ Saint Francis de Sales

“When everything around you is crazy, it is ingenious to stay calm.”
~ Mehmet Murat ildan

Resilience

Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. As much as resilience involves “bouncing back” from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth. While these adverse events, much like rough river waters, are certainly painful and difficult, they don’t have to determine the outcome of your life. There are many aspects of your life you can control, modify, and grow with. That’s the role of resilience. Becoming more resilient not only helps you get through difficult circumstances, but it also empowers you to grow and even improve your life along the way.

“‎Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself-and be lenient to everybody else.”
~ Henry Ward Beecher

“Resilience is knowing that you are the only one that has the power and the responsibility to pick yourself up.”
~ Mary Holloway

“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.”
~ Angela Duckworth

“She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.”
~ Elizabeth Edwards

“Resilience is based on compassion for ourselves as well as compassion for others.”
~ Sharon Salzberg

Persistence

Being highly persistent is something that can help you make all kinds of amazing things happen. Like the little ant that moved the rubber tree plant, truly remarkable things can happen when you just don’t give up.

Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.
~ Ann Landers

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
~ Aristotle

Energy and persistence conquer all things.
~ Benjamin Franklin

Persistence and determination are always rewarded.
~ Christine Rice

If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kindness

There is a myriad of things the world could benefit from having more of; kindness is one of them. When you are a kind person, you’re not only helping others, you are helping yourself, too. There’s substantial scientific evidence that being kind makes you—and others around you—happy.

“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

“The level of our success is limited only by our imagination and no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”
~ Aesop

“Always be a little kinder than necessary.”
~ James M. Barrie

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
~ Mark Twain

“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.”
~ Bob Kerrey

helpers logoI hope these messages provide some assistance to you as we continue to navigate the turbulent waters of COVID-19. Team, this is not mandatory, but if you’d like please feel free to have a look at this Helpers resource. Helpers is a free 6-week course of emotional support built by a group of psychologists to help people to stay happy and healthy during the coronavirus pandemic (and beyond).

You are all doing an amazing job supporting your customers and I’m confident that we will emerge from this pandemic stronger than we were a mere eight weeks ago. Keep up the good work—continue to follow CDC guidelines for hygiene, social distancing, and personal protection—Stay Safe—Stay Healthy—and Be Well!

signature

Let us know how you’re doing by using the interactive form at the bottom of this page.

Words of Encouragement…

Updated: May 11, 2020

Tom PortlockCalmness graphicOne of the biggest obstacles to navigating times of change is overcoming the natural resistance to it. COVID-19 has caused extensive and fast-moving change in every organization. Situations are fluid, and what was permissible or advisable a week ago likely isn’t today. As the curve of COVID-19 infections begins to level off and as government shelter-in-place and similar orders begin to expire, we are facing the reality of returning to work. This reality is stressful—on many levels—but it is a reality we must face, and we must face it head-on.

I believe we all have the strength to overcome any situation we find ourselves in. Research tells us there is a strong relationship between a calm mind and being successful. The result of what we do in that difficult moment makes the difference between success and no success.

Today, I’d like to offer some words of encouragement—not my own—but something I hope will help lead you through these times of change with calmness, resilience, persistence, and kindness.

Calmness

Practice being calm. Start your days with it. Calm is a great place to start moving forward, left, right, or even back. A calm mind is a mind that is in control. A stressed mind takes control over you. A calm mind is there to serve you.

“I breathe in calmness, I breathe out stress.”
~ Anonymous

“When adversity strikes, that’s when you have to be the most calm. Take a step back, stay strong, stay grounded, and press on.”
~ LL Cool J.

“Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.”
~ George Herbert

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”
~ Saint Francis de Sales

“When everything around you is crazy, it is ingenious to stay calm.”
~ Mehmet Murat ildan

Resilience

Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. As much as resilience involves “bouncing back” from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth. While these adverse events, much like rough river waters, are certainly painful and difficult, they don’t have to determine the outcome of your life. There are many aspects of your life you can control, modify, and grow with. That’s the role of resilience. Becoming more resilient not only helps you get through difficult circumstances, but it also empowers you to grow and even improve your life along the way.

“‎Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself-and be lenient to everybody else.”
~ Henry Ward Beecher

“Resilience is knowing that you are the only one that has the power and the responsibility to pick yourself up.”
~ Mary Holloway

“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.”
~ Angela Duckworth

“She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.”
~ Elizabeth Edwards

“Resilience is based on compassion for ourselves as well as compassion for others.”
~ Sharon Salzberg

Persistence

Being highly persistent is something that can help you make all kinds of amazing things happen. Like the little ant that moved the rubber tree plant, truly remarkable things can happen when you just don’t give up.

Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.
~ Ann Landers

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
~ Aristotle

Energy and persistence conquer all things.
~ Benjamin Franklin

Persistence and determination are always rewarded.
~ Christine Rice

If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kindness

There is a myriad of things the world could benefit from having more of; kindness is one of them. When you are a kind person, you’re not only helping others, you are helping yourself, too. There’s substantial scientific evidence that being kind makes you—and others around you—happy.

“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

“The level of our success is limited only by our imagination and no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”
~ Aesop

“Always be a little kinder than necessary.”
~ James M. Barrie

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
~ Mark Twain

“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.”
~ Bob Kerrey

helpers logoI hope these messages provide some assistance to you as we continue to navigate the turbulent waters of COVID-19. Team, this is not mandatory, but if you’d like please feel free to have a look at this Helpers resource. Helpers is a free 6-week course of emotional support built by a group of psychologists to help people to stay happy and healthy during the coronavirus pandemic (and beyond).

You are all doing an amazing job supporting your customers and I’m confident that we will emerge from this pandemic stronger than we were a mere eight weeks ago. Keep up the good work—continue to follow CDC guidelines for hygiene, social distancing, and personal protection—Stay Safe—Stay Healthy—and Be Well!

signature

Let us know how you’re doing by using the interactive form at the bottom of this page.

Facemasks…

Updated: May 4, 2020

Tom Portlock

In the coming weeks, many of us will be returning to our traditional workspaces and will be subject to varying protective measures to comply with federal, state, and local regulations. One such measure that seems to be common is the recommended or mandatory covering of a person’s nose and mouth when entering public places and / or spaces where physical distancing cannot be guaranteed.

Odyssey FacemaskWhile not required to provide any type of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for COVID-19, Odyssey has ordered and will soon be distributing, reusable face-covering masks for all employees.

Facemask InstructionsPlease remember that the use of face masks serve as imperfect supplemental protection and the use of this face mask or others may not prevent infection and is not intended to replace other recommended measures to stop the community spread of COVID-19, such as social distancing, washing your hands, and refraining from touching your face. Everyone should be familiar with and continue to follow the latest advice of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which can be located at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-faq.html, and your own health care professionals as to how best to keep yourself safe.

Thank you all for your continued dedication to our customers, their mission, and everyone’s safety.

signature

Let us know how you’re doing by using the interactive form at the bottom of this page.

Facemasks…

Updated: May 4, 2020

Tom Portlock

Facemask Instructions

In the coming weeks, many of us will be returning to our traditional workspaces and will be subject to varying protective measures to comply with federal, state, and local regulations. One such measure that seems to be common is the recommended or mandatory covering of a person’s nose and mouth when entering public places and/or spaces where physical distancing cannot be guaranteed.

While not required to provide any type of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for
COVID-19, Odyssey has ordered and will soon be distributing, reusable face-covering masks for all employees.

Odyssey Facemask

Please remember that the use of face masks serve as imperfect supplemental protection and the use of this face mask or others may not prevent infection and is not intended to replace other recommended measures to stop the community spread of COVID-19, such as social distancing, washing your hands, and refraining from touching your face. Everyone should be familiar with and continue to follow the latest advice of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which can be located at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-faq.html, and your own health care professionals as to how best to keep yourself safe.

Thank you all for your continued dedication to our customers, their mission, and everyone’s safety.

signature

Let us know how you’re doing by using the interactive form at the bottom of this page.

Getting Back to Normal…

Updated: April 27, 2020

Tom Portlock

Getting Back to Normal graphic

As the country has begun talking about “opening” the economy again, we have begun discussing the same internally.  At this time, it is evident getting back to normal will not be an instant endeavor, but rather a staged process driven mostly by the locations in which we work.

Below is the current status for some of our most populated locations as we understand it—if your location is not listed do not worry as your supervisor will provide specific guidance based on contract direction.

Alabama (Huntsville): Staged openings beginning o/a 15 May
California (Los Angeles/San Diego): Staged openings beginning o/a 15 May
Colorado (Colorado Springs): Staged openings beginning o/a 15 May
Florida (Eglin): Staged openings beginning o/a 4 May
Georgia (Warner Robins): Staged openings beginning o/a 22 May
Maryland (Silver Spring): TBD
Massachusetts (Hanscom/Wakefield): TBD
North Carolina (Ft Bragg): TBD
Ohio (Wright Patterson): Staged openings beginning o/a 22 May
Virginia (Langley AFB): Staged openings beginning o/a 15 May

Again, since each State, and customer location, will “open” at different times and with different guidance, we too will release guidance to our employees based on where they work, our customers’ guidance, and the safety measures in place at their work location. Customer-facing employees will receive specific guidance from their supervisors who remain in contact with their respective customers.

In the meantime, please continue to do all the things you’ve been doing up to this point so when the call comes to go back to work, you’ll be ready and able to do so.

Thank you,

signature

Let us know how you’re doing by using the interactive form at the bottom of this page.

Getting Back to Normal…

Updated: April 27, 2020

Tom Portlock

As the country has begun talking about “opening” the economy again, we have begun discussing the same internally.  At this time, it is evident getting back to normal will not be an instant endeavor, but rather a staged process driven mostly by the locations in which we work.

Below is the current status for some of our most populated locations as we understand it—if your location is not listed do not worry as your supervisor will provide specific guidance based on contract direction.

Getting Back to Normal graphic

Alabama (Huntsville): Staged openings beginning o/a 15 May
California (Los Angeles/San Diego): Staged openings beginning o/a 15 May
Colorado (Colorado Springs): Staged openings beginning o/a 15 May
Florida (Eglin): Staged openings beginning o/a 4 May
Georgia (Warner Robins): Staged openings beginning o/a 22 May
Maryland (Silver Spring): TBD
Massachusetts (Hanscom/Wakefield): TBD
North Carolina (Ft Bragg): TBD
Ohio (Wright Patterson): Staged openings beginning o/a 22 May
Virginia (Langley AFB): Staged openings beginning o/a 15 May

Again, since each State, and customer location, will “open” at different times and with different guidance, we too will release guidance to our employees based on where they work, our customers’ guidance, and the safety measures in place at their work location. Customer-facing employees will receive specific guidance from their supervisors who remain in contact with their respective customers.

In the meantime, please continue to do all the things you’ve been doing up to this point so when the call comes to go back to work, you’ll be ready and able to do so.

Thank you,

signature

Let us know how you’re doing by using the interactive form at the bottom of this page.

Helping The Community…

Updated: April 20, 2020

Tom PortlockGreetings Odyssey Team! In last week’s Update, I offered some tips to stay SANE (Strong, Active, Neighborly, and Energetic) during the pandemic. Well, some of our Odyssey brethren have taken the Neighborly idea to heart and have been quite active in their communities. Hats off to you good people!

Helping The Community

Steve in Colorado is an EMT and volunteer firefighter with his county Fire Board. He’s been on the front line helping fight the good fight against this nasty virus.

Tonya in Florida baked quiche, nut mixes, baklava, cookies and cherry turnovers for several of her neighbors, many of whom are elderly and unable/scared to leave home. Her husband helped another neighbor with his yard work.

Catherine in Massachusetts has been delivering food to members of her community who are at greater risk of becoming ill, and Mike in Colorado donated a modest supply of N95 masks and surgical gloves leftover from a home project to a local hospital.

They aren’t the only ones doing this though. We all have friends and neighbors helping out. My daughter’s friend is sewing homemade masks and distributing them for free to local restaurants and grocery stores to help their workers. Others have helped at a local food bank boxing supplies for those in dire need since losing their jobs because of the coronavirus.

This pandemic has spurred an outpouring of generosity and kindness, more so than usual, and I am so thankful and appreciative of all of you who have gone above and beyond to do your part. These things take so little time and effort but are making a difference to others.

HC-130J HerculesEven with the strained environment, we’re getting the job done at work too! I recently received an email written by LtGen Robert McMurry, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) Commander congratulating the ISR SOF Directorate, specifically the folks in the HC/MC-130 Recap Program, for delivering the first HC-130J to the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base earlier this month. If you recall from our March issue of “The Journey”, the WIS SOF Team was also the recipient of the AFLCMC SPO of the Year award. They continue to excel; delivering dominance to the warfighter… anytime… any place. A big CONGRATULATIONS to our EPASS WIS SOF Team!

And a big THANK YOU to all of you who continue to get the job done for our customers, internal and external alike. Keep up the good work!

As parts of the country begin to “open” again, it’s more important than ever to exercise precaution and practice good hygiene, social distancing, and common sense so we don’t take a step backwards.

Stay safe, stay healthy and be well.

signature

Let us know how you’re doing by using the interactive form at the bottom of this page.

Helping The Community

Helping The Community…

Updated: April 20, 2020

Tom PortlockGreetings Odyssey Team! In last week’s Update, I offered some tips to stay SANE (Strong, Active, Neighborly, and Energetic) during the pandemic. Well, some of our Odyssey brethren have taken the Neighborly idea to heart and have been quite active in their communities. Hats off to you good people!

Steve in Colorado is an EMT and volunteer firefighter with his county Fire Board. He’s been on the front line helping fight the good fight against this nasty virus.

Tonya in Florida baked quiche, nut mixes, baklava, cookies and cherry turnovers for several of her neighbors, many of whom are elderly and unable/scared to leave home. Her husband helped another neighbor with his yard work.

Catherine in Massachusetts has been delivering food to members of her community who are at greater risk of becoming ill, and Mike in Colorado donated a modest supply of N95 masks and surgical gloves leftover from a home project to a local hospital.

They aren’t the only ones doing this though. We all have friends and neighbors helping out. My daughter’s friend is sewing homemade masks and distributing them for free to local restaurants and grocery stores to help their workers. Others have helped at a local food bank boxing supplies for those in dire need since losing their jobs because of the coronavirus.

This pandemic has spurred an outpouring of generosity and kindness, more so than usual, and I am so thankful and appreciative of all of you who have gone above and beyond to do your part. These things take so little time and effort but are making a difference to others.

HC-130J HerculesEven with the strained environment, we’re getting the job done at work too! I recently received an email written by LtGen Robert McMurry, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) Commander congratulating the ISR SOF Directorate, specifically the folks in the HC/MC-130 Recap Program, for delivering the first HC-130J to the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base earlier this month. If you recall from our March issue of “The Journey”, the WIS SOF Team was also the recipient of the AFLCMC SPO of the Year award. They continue to excel; delivering dominance to the warfighter… anytime… any place. A big CONGRATULATIONS to our EPASS WIS SOF Team!

And a big THANK YOU to all of you who continue to get the job done for our customers, internal and external alike. Keep up the good work!

As parts of the country begin to “open” again, it’s more important than ever to exercise precaution and practice good hygiene, social distancing, and common sense so we don’t take a step backwards.

Stay safe, stay healthy and be well.

signature

Let us know how you’re doing by using the interactive form at the bottom of this page.

Maintaining your sanity…

Updated: April 13, 2020

Tom PortlockGreetings and welcome to another week of the “New Normal.” I’m sure, like me, you’ve all had times where you thought you’d lose your mind at the next mention of the coronavirus or social distancing. But it’s times like these, as the whole world continues to work through the COVID-19 pandemic, that we all need to take time to give ourselves the gift of maintaining and improving our mental and physical health. All of this is hard to process, and the better we can preserve our sanity in these trying times, the better for ourselves, our families, and our colleagues. Below are some suggestions to help you feel the best you can both mentally and physically.

Mental Health

Set and maintain a routine: it will help provide structure to your days and keep you in the right mindset for success both professionally and personally.

Get some fresh air: studies have shown that getting fresh air during the day can positively impact your state of mind, reinforce your immune system, improve concentration, and increase productivity during work.

Stay social: consider regular check-ins with your friends and loved ones to help stay connected and give you something to look forward to.

Disconnect: listen to music, read books, work on a puzzle, play board games or make up your own (my family built a miniature golf course in our house). Anything you can do to help limit your screen time will help.

Turn social distancing into service: look for ways to help your community, including checking on older people in your neighborhood (either on the phone or from an appropriate distance), giving blood, or donating supplies and/or money to local organizations.

JK Some Good News Screenshot

Laugh: it may not be the best medicine, but it doesn’t hurt.

Change your Perspective: tired of the same ol’ same ol’ on the news? Check out John Krasinski’s Some Good News for a change.

Physical Health

Eat right: fuel your body by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, and drinking plenty of water.

Get some ZZZs: sleep is important! It enables the body to be fit and ready for another day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get at least seven (7) hours each night.

Get moving: whether it’s yoga, aerobics, working in your yard, pumping iron, or something in between, exercise helps get those endorphins flowing and will help fight cabin fever.

Don’t forget to breathe: deep breathing is one of the easiest, most convenient, and natural tools to combat issues like stress and anxiety, and it has also been known to help in reducing pain, lower blood pressure, and even aid in digestion.

We hope these tips will help keep you SANE (Strong, Active, Neighborly, and Energetic) during these trying times. We’d love to hear your feedback on what works for you.

We’re also hoping to highlight what you’re doing to help others in your communities in our next updatelet us know by using the interactive form at the bottom of our new, interactive web page.

Maintaining your sanity…

Updated: April 13, 2020

Tom PortlockGreetings and welcome to another week of the “New Normal.” I’m sure, like me, you’ve all had times where you thought you’d lose your mind at the next mention of the coronavirus or social distancing. But it’s times like these, as the whole world continues to work through the COVID-19 pandemic, that we all need to take time to give ourselves the gift of maintaining and improving our mental and physical health. All of this is hard to process, and the better we can preserve our sanity in these trying times, the better for ourselves, our families, and our colleagues. Below are some suggestions to help you feel the best you can both mentally and physically.

Mental Health

Set and maintain a routine: it will help provide structure to your days and keep you in the right mindset for success both professionally and personally.

Get some fresh air: studies have shown that getting fresh air during the day can positively impact your state of mind, reinforce your immune system, improve concentration, and increase productivity during work.

Stay social: consider regular check-ins with your friends and loved ones to help stay connected and give you something to look forward to.

Disconnect: listen to music, read books, work on a puzzle, play board games or make up your own (my family built a miniature golf course in our house). Anything you can do to help limit your screen time will help.

Turn social distancing into service: look for ways to help your community, including checking on older people in your neighborhood (either on the phone or from an appropriate distance), giving blood, or donating supplies and/or money to local organizations.

JK Some Good News Screenshot

Laugh: it may not be the best medicine, but it doesn’t hurt.

Change your Perspective: tired of the same ol’ same ol’ on the news? Check out John Krasinski’s Some Good News for a change.

Physical Health

Eat right: fuel your body by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, and drinking plenty of water.

Get some ZZZs: sleep is important! It enables the body to be fit and ready for another day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get at least seven (7) hours each night.

Get moving: whether it’s yoga, aerobics, working in your yard, pumping iron, or something in between, exercise helps get those endorphins flowing and will help fight cabin fever.

Don’t forget to breathe: deep breathing is one of the easiest, most convenient, and natural tools to combat issues like stress and anxiety, and it has also been known to help in reducing pain, lower blood pressure, and even aid in digestion.

We hope these tips will help keep you SANE (Strong, Active, Neighborly, and Energetic) during these trying times. We’d love to hear your feedback on what works for you.

We’re also hoping to highlight what you’re doing to help others in your communities in our next updatelet us know by using the interactive form at the bottom of our new, interactive web page.

6 Tips to Help Make the Most of
Working from Home

Updated: April 6, 2020

Six Tips Lightbulb graphic

Your collective get-it-done approach in these uncertain times is inspiring—we know it’s not easy. To help, we’ve gathered a list of some simple ways to help you be as comfortable as possible while working from home.

1. Try to keep to a schedule: Many of us are creatures of habit, which serves us well in the office. It can at home too! Set a daily schedule and stick to it the best you can—a sense of control and purpose is very helpful.
A morning routine is important: Your commute has gone from miles to feet. However, a routine will help put you in the right mindset for daily success. It might be appealing to work in your PJs, but getting dressed, having breakfast, etc., will help you be focused and productive all day long.

2. Define your space: If you are able, make sure your home office set-up is in a separate room from your living space. That physical separation will help you mentally flip the switch between work and leisure. If you have to work in a room in which you already sleep, eat, or relax, try to dedicate a corner or side of the room for your workspace.

3. Take a break: Spring has sprung in most parts of the country. Clear your mind with a socially distanced walk around the block at lunch or sit in the sun for some much-needed Vitamin D. This is a great habit to continue when you’re back in the actual office (if your schedule allows), so take this unique opportunity to give yourself the gift of improving your physical and mental well-being.

4. Connect with colleagues and customers: We currently don’t have the luxury of popping over to a colleague’s desk to ask a question or to simply say hello. However, those connections are so important to productivity and healthy professional relationships. Pick up the phone. Meet via video chat. We strongly encourage you to not just rely on email and messaging to communicate. Relationships are now more important than ever! This especially goes for those of you that work directly with your government counterparts. Proactive communication is even more vital when we are physically separated.

5.Manage expectations: Sometimes this situation will be frustrating. Things might not work out as planned. It’s ok to have workarounds. You might have to deliver information via a different method. The list goes on. We have to adapt to continue to perform and that’s ok! And, proactive communication about any changes to the norm will help everyone be on the same page.

6. Embrace the change: We know this is weird. We know this isn’t necessarily optimal. But remember, this is temporary. Use the time wisely and you will most certainly benefit from learning new ways to work, supporting your colleagues, improving habits, and overcoming challenges.

Additional Resources:
https://www.npr.org/2020/03/15/815549926/8-tips-to-make-working-from-home-work-for-you
https://www.inc.com/lindsey-pollak-eileen-coombes/remote-work-home-productivity-communication-self-care-morale-team.html
https://www.popsci.com/story/diy/best-work-from-home-tips/
https://hbr.org/2020/04/3-tips-to-avoid-wfh-burnout

Six Tips Lightbulb graphic6 Tips to Help Make the Most of
Working from Home

Updated: April 6, 2020

Your collective get-it-done approach in these uncertain times is inspiring—we know it’s not easy. To help, we’ve gathered a list of some simple ways to help you be as comfortable as possible while working from home.

1. Try to keep to a schedule: Many of us are creatures of habit, which serves us well in the office. It can at home too! Set a daily schedule and stick to it the best you can—a sense of control and purpose is very helpful.
A morning routine is important: Your commute has gone from miles to feet. However, a routine will help put you in the right mindset for daily success. It might be appealing to work in your PJs, but getting dressed, having breakfast, etc., will help you be focused and productive all day long.

2. Define your space: If you are able, make sure your home office set-up is in a separate room from your living space. That physical separation will help you mentally flip the switch between work and leisure. If you have to work in a room in which you already sleep, eat, or relax, try to dedicate a corner or side of the room for your workspace.

3. Take a break: Spring has sprung in most parts of the country. Clear your mind with a socially distanced walk around the block at lunch or sit in the sun for some much-needed Vitamin D. This is a great habit to continue when you’re back in the actual office (if your schedule allows), so take this unique opportunity to give yourself the gift of improving your physical and mental well-being.

4. Connect with colleagues and customers: We currently don’t have the luxury of popping over to a colleague’s desk to ask a question or to simply say hello. However, those connections are so important to productivity and healthy professional relationships. Pick up the phone. Meet via video chat. We strongly encourage you to not just rely on email and messaging to communicate. Relationships are now more important than ever! This especially goes for those of you that work directly with your government counterparts. Proactive communication is even more vital when we are physically separated.

5.Manage expectations: Sometimes this situation will be frustrating. Things might not work out as planned. It’s ok to have workarounds. You might have to deliver information via a different method. The list goes on. We have to adapt to continue to perform and that’s ok! And, proactive communication about any changes to the norm will help everyone be on the same page.

6. Embrace the change: We know this is weird. We know this isn’t necessarily optimal. But remember, this is temporary. Use the time wisely and you will most certainly benefit from learning new ways to work, supporting your colleagues, improving habits, and overcoming challenges.

Additional Resources:
https://www.npr.org/2020/03/15/815549926/8-tips-to-make-working-from-home-work-for-you
https://www.inc.com/lindsey-pollak-eileen-coombes/remote-work-home-productivity-communication-self-care-morale-team.html
https://www.popsci.com/story/diy/best-work-from-home-tips/
https://hbr.org/2020/04/3-tips-to-avoid-wfh-burnout

Update from CEO Tom Portlock

Updated: March 25, 2020

Tom PortlockI wanted to take a few minutes to provide an update on Odyssey’s current activities with respect to COVID-19 and our ongoing operations during the pandemic. First, I am happy to report that we have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst our employees. Please—continue to take care of yourselves and your families!

It’s an uncertain time, to say the least. We are all inundated with information and we’re all processing the information in our own way as best we can. We have all been affected in some way by the pandemic as well. Personally, my cousin, a 38-year-old college lacrosse coach in upstate New York, was infected but is now on the mend. My daughter is home from college in North Carolina and is studying online like so many other students while my nephew’s college graduation was canceled. My son has been furloughed from his job, my wife’s high school softball season is on hold, and my brother-in-law has had to postpone his wedding. We’re all adjusting, and thankfully, we’re all healthy. We’re dealing with the situation and keeping our hopes up for a quick (it’s a relative term) resolution so we can assume our normal lives.

But for the time being, we have a new normal. We are still operating at full capacity—just using different means. In accordance with Massachusetts Governor Baker’s order, I have closed our physical corporate office in Wakefield, Mass. and urged all of our field offices to maximize telework as well. We are working with and maintaining close coordination with our customers to arrange for appropriate accommodations to allow our client-facing employees to telework as well. There are certain groups that operate in classified environments where that is not possible, but our managers in those areas are developing plans with our customers to maximize physical distancing and ensure a healthy work environment.

We have also been fielding a slew of questions from our workforce and have consolidated a Frequently Asked Questions list. This page will be continually updated as we receive more questions and/or the situation evolves.

We serve an important function as a member of the Defense Industrial Base Essential Critical Infrastructure sector, and we take our jobs very seriously. On behalf of the company’s partners, I’d like to thank you for your continued support and dedication to your work and our customers. To ensure we remain at the ready and are equipped to do our job, we must all continue to follow CDC guidelines for hygiene, sanitization, and social distancing as best we can.

We are a resilient bunch—it’s a trait I’ve long-admired about Odyssey. We are all in this—and will pull through this—together!

Update from CEO Tom Portlock

Updated: March 25, 2020

Tom PortlockI wanted to take a few minutes to provide an update on Odyssey’s current activities with respect to COVID-19 and our ongoing operations during the pandemic. First, I am happy to report that we have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst our employees. Please—continue to take care of yourselves and your families!

It’s an uncertain time, to say the least. We are all inundated with information and we’re all processing the information in our own way as best we can. We have all been affected in some way by the pandemic as well. Personally, my cousin, a 38-year-old college lacrosse coach in upstate New York, was infected but is now on the mend. My daughter is home from college in North Carolina and is studying online like so many other students while my nephew’s college graduation was canceled. My son has been furloughed from his job, my wife’s high school softball season is on hold, and my brother-in-law has had to postpone his wedding. We’re all adjusting, and thankfully, we’re all healthy. We’re dealing with the situation and keeping our hopes up for a quick (it’s a relative term) resolution so we can assume our normal lives.

But for the time being, we have a new normal. We are still operating at full capacity—just using different means. In accordance with Massachusetts Governor Baker’s order, I have closed our physical corporate office in Wakefield, Mass. and urged all of our field offices to maximize telework as well. We are working with and maintaining close coordination with our customers to arrange for appropriate accommodations to allow our client-facing employees to telework as well. There are certain groups that operate in classified environments where that is not possible, but our managers in those areas are developing plans with our customers to maximize physical distancing and ensure a healthy work environment.

We have also been fielding a slew of questions from our workforce and have consolidated a Frequently Asked Questions list. This page will be continually updated as we receive more questions and/or the situation evolves.

We serve an important function as a member of the Defense Industrial Base Essential Critical Infrastructure sector, and we take our jobs very seriously. On behalf of the company’s partners, I’d like to thank you for your continued support and dedication to your work and our customers. To ensure we remain at the ready and are equipped to do our job, we must all continue to follow CDC guidelines for hygiene, sanitization, and social distancing as best we can.

We are a resilient bunch—it’s a trait I’ve long-admired about Odyssey. We are all in this—and will pull through this—together!

Important Information from the CDC
on How to Stay Healthy

cdc poster

Updated: March 12, 2020

With the COVID-19 (or what is more commonly known as the coronavirus) dominating the news cycle, we wanted you to be aware that Odyssey is monitoring the situation closely and want to help ensure everyone remains healthy and free of risk.

For the latest information on how to best protect yourself from getting sick, visit the CDC web site. It is updated regularly so please visit it often for the latest information.

In addition to these measures, it is important to stay informed on travel recommendations and restrictions. As with any emergency situation, the information can change rapidly. Visit the CDC website for the most up-to-date travel information.

Important Information from the CDC
on How to Stay Healthy

cdc poster

Updated: March 12, 2020

With the COVID-19 (or what is more commonly known as the coronavirus) dominating the news cycle, we wanted you to be aware that Odyssey is monitoring the situation closely and want to help ensure everyone remains healthy and free of risk.

For the latest information on how to best protect yourself from getting sick, visit the CDC web site. It is updated regularly so please visit it often for the latest information.

In addition to these measures, it is important to stay informed on travel recommendations and restrictions. As with any emergency situation, the information can change rapidly. Visit the CDC website for the most up-to-date travel information.

We Care About How You’re Doing!

Please share how you’re adapting to our new normal. We welcome your suggestions, requests, tips, and any thoughts you think might be helpful for others! In addition, we’d love to hear if you are giving back to your community—let us know!

We’d love to see photos of your WFH space, pictures of yourself powering through with your family, pets, and/or you helping your neighbors. Please email them to: catherineemond@odysseyconsult.com. They might just be featured on this page soon!