COVID-19, Clutter and the Critter

How a Chipmunk Accelerated My Readiness to Work Remotely and Lead My Virtual Team

I’m going to share a fun little story about this chipmunk who made such a mess of things in my home office that I had no choice but clean it up.  Turns out his timing was perfect, as I was then ready to work remotely when the mandate to work from home caused me to step up and lead my virtual team from my house.

Little did I know that when my house was recently broken into, it was the catalyst to preparedness for me to work more effectively from home prior to the COVID-19 pandemic mandates. I have to thank the little break-in artist for his foresight.

I am guilty of having a cluttered home office. I had worked from home for several years and relied on this space to think, write, prepare work for clients, shoot videos, record audios, and hold multiple virtual meetings. Still, having an office outside of the home has been my norm for the last 6+ years. As I allowed myself to get lazy with my home office space, it became like a huge “file cabinet”. It was clean, but cluttered. If I closed the door, nobody would see the piles.

I Met the Critter

The tables turned with the chipmunk, a.k.a. the little break-in artist. Once he was able to get into my house, he proceeded to make himself at home in my office. He ate in my office, he slept in my office, he played in my office, and he even used my office as his bathroom!

Now my office was cluttered AND dirty. He had made himself so comfortable that I had to call in reinforcements to get things back to how they once used to be. And this all took place 3 weeks before COVID-19 made working virtually the new norm. I choose to believe that this was foresight on the chipmunk’s part – he knew he was doing me a favor.

My work team is a balanced group. I don’t enjoy cleaning and organizing, but  I have a team member that loves it! I called a cleaning party at my house and within a day working as a team, we had my office uncluttered, organized, clean, and critter-free.

The Virus Strikes

Jump to 3 weeks later. My wife, who just three days earlier returned from a trip to Portland, Oregon, didn’t feel well. She had a cough and fever, and was sequestered to bed for the next few days.  COVID-19? We don’t know, because when we asked to be tested, the doctors flatly refused to see her. When we pushed the issue and called the Coronavirus Hotline (who knew there was such a thing?), they eventually admitted that there were absolutely no tests in the state of Connecticut. Not one. Zippo.  She could get tested, no matter that she had some COVID-19 symptoms, even if we demanded it. Their advice: assume you have Coronavirus and stay home.

So, we did the safe thing. I moved to the guest bedroom on the opposite side of the house. We closed the office to protect our employees and their families.  Overnight, we became a fully virtual team.

I Have Been Super Productive Working Remotely

Since then, I have been super productively working from my home office. I have written a book, Virtual Teams That Thrive: How to Use the 5Ps of Effective Virtual Teams to Increase Productivity, Build Autonomy, and Elevate Your Team in an Age of Uncertainty, shot a webinar, recorded an audio book, created multiple video-programs, conducted multiple Facebook Live sessions, Recorded multiple podcast episodes on Business Results Radio, wrote the working remotely / virtual teams awareness guide, AND had daily conversations with my team and with clients.

Thank you, Mr. Chipmunk! I can’t help but think of how grateful I was to be prepared ahead of time. I certainly had to make a few adjustments to accommodate situations, like grabbing the studio lights and background from the office, but the groundwork was set.

Not everyone was as lucky as I was to have a chipmunk in their life to get the ball rolling for them to be more prepared to work virtually. Ideally, you have been able to successfully adjust to a virtual workplace.

Take this opportunity to notice the chipmunk situations in your life – those where you know you have something to address that you’ve been putting off.  What can you address now, before it becomes a necessity?

Pete Winiarski is the CEO of Win Enterprises, LLC. In response to the recent changes in how work is now conducted, he and his team created materials to help you and your team thrive in this virtual world.  Go here now.

Learn more at  and Contact Pete’s team at

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