During the Blizzard, Work’s A Beach
By Susan Kim, Staff Writer
During the blizzard, some businesses shut down, but one Columbia-based information technology (IT) firm, NextLOGiK, relied on a virtual office solution, called Sococo, that is designed to look like a beach, complete with sand, palm trees, hammocks and an ocean. And, of course, sunshine, and not a single flake of snow.
The NextLOGiK team kept up its productivity — and its beachy sense of humor — remotely, said Helen Little, product marketing manager.
“With everyone scattered across Maryland under a couple feet of snow, we didn’t want to risk anyone trying to drive to work,” she said. “We all worked from home. We are able to talk, share screens, video chat and conference-in guests as if we are in the office,” she said. “We can get as much, if not more, work done in the comfort of our homes.”
NextLOGiK develops software, designs web sites and builds customized computer networks, in addition to designing uplifting remote office themes.
IT firms aren’t the only kinds of companies that go to great lengths to avoid downtime during a blizzard. Crews from Harkins Builders, working on The Lutheran Village at Miller’s Grant, in Ellicott City, battened down their worksite on Friday, Jan. 22, before the blizzard, cleared the snow on Sunday, Jan. 24, and were back on the job at 5:30 a.m. Monday morning. “I am proud of them as an example how our construction crews handled the blizzard,” said John Dawson, communications manager for Harkins.
Making Up for Lost Business
Some businesses are simply forced to close and then must find ways to make up the lost revenue. Victoria Gastro Pub closed Friday, Jan. 22, and Saturday, Jan. 23, and finally reopened on Monday evening. “We, like a lot of others, unfortunately lost business because in order to keep our employees and customers safe we decided to close,” said Victoria Marriner Buscher, chief experience officer. “We thankfully have been busy ever since.”
As residents with cabin fever began venturing out, restaurants were packed the weekend after the blizzard — after plows had five days to clear the snow.
Iron Bridge Wine Company lost nearly three full days of business but kept up a lighthearted marketing effort, offering customers a “Snowmageddon dining certificate deal” as well as a “(Stuck) insider wine deal.”
In Howard County, Domino’s Pizza tried to keep its chin and pizza production up, even though an honest dispatcher warned on Monday, Jan. 25, that the company was down to one driver — and pizzas were taking two hours.
Bliss in the Blizzard
Every blizzard has its happy moments. Steven Getz and Stephanie Gilmore held their wedding the afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 24, at Historic Oakland in Columbia. Columbia Association (CA) owns the property, and CA staff were working all day Saturday, Jan. 23, and Sunday, Jan. 24, to clear the parking lots and walkways, at Oakland as well as all over Columbia.
For Columbia Inn at Peralynna, the blizzard brought some positive media coverage when the bed-and-breakfast housed people who wanted to ride out the storm in comfort. Kathleen Cairns from Fox 45 Baltimore interviewed inn owner Dr. Cynthia Lynn.
“We have lots of food, lots of heat, fireplaces, Tempur-Pedic beds, down comforters, lots of blankets, a fireplace in every room. It’s a great place to hang out in a storm,” said Lynn.
The Serious Side of Snow
When schools can’t open, kids are delighted but parents who are juggling work schedules aren’t always happy. In a note to parents, Renee Foose, superintendent of Howard County Public Schools, explained that buses travel more than 30,000 miles each day to serve 40,000 students in the school system.
And, she added, “Whenever we experience snowfall beyond 4–5 inches, we must clear outside every door on every school building and open at least a 3-feet-wide pathway to the parking lot or sidewalk. This adds up to over 30 miles of sidewalks and pathways.”
Food pantries also can be strained during large snowstorms. Needs increase when people are forced to take unpaid leave because they can’t get to work. In addition, children don’t have access to school meals when schools are closed. In the wake of the blizzard, local food banks urged people to make donations of food or funds.