This week’s blog was written by Teri Lyon. Teri is a senior technical support specialist at PAR. She has been with PAR for more than 20 years. Today she imparts a little advice on how stepping away has helped her create balance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lately, it seems like we’re stuck in a stanza from Billy Joel’s hit “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

              Toilet paper, “Tiger King,”

              PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING!

              Wearing masks, stay on task,

              DO NOT LEAVE HOME!

It’s pretty shocking to think that what we’re going through right now will be in history books for students to read about in awe and, hopefully, not in recognition. Being in Florida, we’re used to having to hunker down for hurricanes and dealing with power outages from what seems like a tiny summer storm. This, of course, is on a totally different level—the kind of level that can be overwhelming. Well, I have some advice:

STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER. STEP AWAY FROM THE TV.

Seems simple, right? Not so fast. If you’re like me, you want to know what is going on in the world and even your neighborhood. You want facts, data, information! Lately, though, it’s been a bit too much. Commercials are even referencing COVID-19, so you don’t even get a break when the show you are watching takes one. Is the information we’re getting even correct? Does anyone really know what they’re talking about? Separating fact from fiction is more frustrating than ever, it seems. So, just step away (but not like out of your yard, though, unless you are wearing a mask). I’m really just saying take a break from it all in any way that you can. Turn off the electronics. Pick up a pen, take a walk, take some pictures, take a break from it all.

I’ve had to embrace my inner introvert since this started. Around the three-week mark, I had to step away. For a full day, I didn’t so much as look at my phone. This was so helpful and really made me feel a lot better about myself, my family, and what we are doing to stay safe. After that day, I made an effort to balance my time. Think of a work–life balance situation but make it more of a COVID–no-COVID balance. Also, let your support group be your support group. Reach out and commiserate. Then, just step away for a bit. 

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PAR prides ourselves on providing the very best Customer service in the test publishing industry. Here’s a peek into how our Customer Support team has adjusted our services in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lauren Williams, Customer Support Specialist II: Customer Support has made some really great efforts in alleviating stress from our Customers in any way that we can. Aside from continuing regular services, we’ve also started to offer digital manuals for every printed manual purchased in the past. It’s also been really great having the opportunity to assist Customers with remote testing and teaching them about all the great aspects of PARiConnect.

Julia Klein, Customer Support Specialist II: I think most of us have become more in tune with our Customers, understanding their tone of voice, recognizing the stress or anxiety they may feel and altering how we speak or how fast we talk though something. Matching pace has probably been the most beneficial during the current climate to working with our Customers.

Kim Doscher, Customer Support Specialist: The current situation has created an immediate switch to telehealth that has brought along a whole new technological world for many of our Customers. These are unprecedented times that generate many questions and concerns. Our focus is on talking to our Customers and listening to their needs so that they can continue serving their clients. Whether it be learning how to use our online platform PARiConnect, navigating remote administration, or figuring out how to access our materials digitally, we are here to help!

Tamara Dwoskin, Customer Relationship Manager: Our Customer Support department has really adapted to what’s going on, staying on the pulse of what our Customers are asking for. We’re intent on developing creative solutions for what they need. A lot of folks were caught very unexpectedly with this pandemic, like we all were, and they are in pickles with what they are trying to accomplish, whether it’s training students as part of a university class, or maybe they had assessments scheduled and now they have to switch to teletherapy to get those things done. It’s on us to talk them through it. We want to be with them every step of the way if we can and develop those creative solutions that will really carry them through and help them accomplish their goals. We are up for that challenge. We already had the infrastructure to offer the support that’s needed during this time frame and we’re adding more as time goes on. We are constantly looking to how we can evolve to better meet the needs of our Customers. We’re here. We’re here for you. We’re here to listen. So call us and give us a chance to assist you at some point!