Insider Insights: Matt Swaffer

Corporate Communications: We’ve been working remote for almost a year now. Many of us haven’t seen one another in months. On camera things look good. But the reality is many of us are working from our kitchens, our couches or our bedrooms, juggling family and work demands or surrounded by an awful lot of quiet. In this short podcast, we’ll peel back the Zoom background to hear from Sealaska employees in all corners of the company about how they’re staying focused on serving our shareholders, developing new business strategies for this strange new world, and just getting through another day working from home. This is Insider Insights. Take a listen.

Matt Swaffer, senior software architect, Managed Business Solutions (MBS): My name is Matt Swaffer. I am a senior software architect with Managed Business Solutions or MBS. And I am located in Windsor, Colorado, which is about an hour north of Denver. 

CC: Can you tell me about where you’re working? Right now your home office or whatever your situation is? 

MS: My job has been remote since I started nine and a half years ago. And so when we bought this house, one of the things that we were looking for was a home office. I have worked in unfinished basements, I’ve worked in spare bedrooms, I’ve worked on the kitchen table. And so it was one of the things we were looking for. So I happen to have a pretty nice office. Also, as part of that my wife also works from home now, which she didn’t before. And so she took the other office space, which is kind of a loft area. So we’re very fortunate to have the setup we have, 

CC: How are you keeping your spirits up and staying energized during this time? 

MS: So this is an interesting one, because like I said, I’ve been working from home. And so you would think that this whole time period would not have affected me, but it really did. It was a challenge. We normally have friends come over for firepit nights or barbecues. And so we didn’t get to do any of that last summer. And so I started to notice last fall, I was starting to almost get depressed, I was just down. And I’m thinking, Oh, this is a bummer. And so one of the things that I started doing is I kind of hit the reset button. I said, Well listen, you can’t hang out with your friends, you can’t go ride your motorcycle and do all the things you want to do. But what can you do? And so I started reading again. I used to read a lot, and I kind of fell off after grad school and all that. So I decided you know what? I’m going to start reading again. You can do that from home. And so you kind of explore the whole world from the chair you’re reading in. So I started doing that. And then I said, you know, I’m also like, I think like a lot of people, not eating healthy and wasn’t feeling you know, just wasn’t feeling on top of my game. And so I said, ‘You know, I’m going to start eating more healthy.’ I started focusing on since we’re stuck at home and we’re cooking, let’s cook healthy. Let’s make good, healthy meals. And I have a little workout room here I started doing you know, started working out every day and that made such a huge difference, just those little changes. And they were all things that you know, I could do from home. It’s just, you know, at the beginning of all this, it was like, I don’t know, it just kind of gets you down and you start feeling like, Oh, I can’t do anything. And the reality is we can do some things, we just have to shift and do some different things. 

CC: What type of reading do you like to do? Are you like a nonfiction or fiction? Or what are what are you into? 

I have actually decided that I’m going to try to start reading more fiction. I’ve been a big nonfiction reader for a long time. I love reading. I’m into cognitive psychology, that’s kind of my background with grad school. And so I like reading those kinds of books, behavioral economics, all that fun stuff. But I’ve decided that fiction is something I should probably be a little more cultured in. I don’t know if I’m reading cultured fiction or not. But you know, reading just for the fun of it, right? I did that when I was a kid. And I just got to the point where, you know, reading for fun was different, but I enjoyed the stories, I enjoy going back and reading more fiction now. 

CC: What about favorite new recipes or dishes that you’ve prepared since you decided to start eating healthier. 

MS: We’ve been making more Mediterraneanstyle dishes, and that’s been been interesting and pretty healthy too. So there’s a dish I made had this just a lot of tomatoes and mushrooms and all the vegetables and everything and just had a little bit of chicken in it. And so I put some orzo in – I had to have the pasta in there. So I put that in there.  

CC: They’re so tiny, they’re harmless, right? 

MS: That’s how you justify, like, putting it in there. (Laughing.) 

CC: So tell me what part of the work from home experience will stay with you – the question is officially framed as once we return to the office – but in your case, I suppose you will not be returning to the office. But I guess once things are back to normal, whatever that will mean. 

MS: Yeah, let me give you two parts to this. The first one is I have a I want to call it an overwhelming sense of gratitude. But I have an increased sense of gratitude in working from home, because I’ve been working from home for a long time. And as I talk to other people who are now having to work from home, like my wife has had to start working from home and other friends who have had to start working from home. I’m realizing that the transition for them was not always easy. So I’m very grateful for the fact that when this whole thing started, it wasn’t a big transition for me. That’s something I think I want to continue is I want to constantly be aware of just how grateful I should be for different things. I think the other thing that I’m going to take away from this is that I mentioned to you that I’m also an adjunct lecturer at the University of Northern Colorado in nearby town. And I’ve always taught in person, and I love teaching. I love interacting with students. I love the camaraderie, joking with them, laughing, learning, watching the light bulb come on in their eyes when they learn something. It’s just so much fun to teach students like that. So last fall, I started teaching online for the first time. And it was hard. It may be one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in a long time. I can’t even imagine teaching K-12. That has got to be one of the most just absolutely hardest jobs right now. And I’m definitely going to walk away from this not only appreciative of the people who do that, but also I want to increase my skills, I want to get better at it, right, because even though I have a lot of experience working from home, teaching from home was just so much different. It’s so much harder. So I’m going to take that as a challenge that I need to get better at that and learn how to do it. 

CC: Thanks for listening, Sealaska. This is Amy Miller in Corporate Communications. I’ll talk to you again in two weeks.