Life at Activus: The Importance of Empathy in Times of Crisis

When people experience challenging times, the best kind of support comes from those who have shared those experiences and understand the difficult situation they’re facing.

As an Ambassador at Activus Connect, Janelle Cuevas-Cruz works on one of our support programs answering incoming calls and assisting customers for a client in the financial services and lending industry. Many of her calls are from customers in times of need, as COVID-19 has resulted in unemployment, shuttered businesses, or financial difficulties, all of which she has first-hand experience with.

“You speak to some very interesting folks in this role,” she said. “Some of the calls I get are so touching, and a little heartbreaking at times. We’re dealing with a lot of small businesses and individuals who have been badly impacted by the pandemic, so we need to be able to understand what they are going through and be there for them.”

Janelle’s Story: The Path to Activus

Although Janelle is originally from New York City, she is currently based in Orlando, Florida, where she has lived since November 2019—most of her family lives in Florida, so the decision to land in Orlando was an easy one.

“After my husband and I were married, we soon found out we were expecting, so we decided to leave the big city,” she recalled. “Luckily, my husband was able to get a transfer with his job to Georgia, where we spent three years raising our daughter, but when the opportunity to move to Orlando came up, we jumped at the chance.”

Before joining Activus Connect in April 2020, Janelle spent around 11 years of her professional life in insurance, working as a claims assistant in New York. During her time in Georgia, she took on another administrative role with some office manager duties, but she, unfortunately, lost her job in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When the company suddenly told us they had to make cuts everywhere, it was really tough for us—my husband even lost his job at his company for the same reasons,” she said. “I’m lucky enough that I was able to join Activus exactly when we needed a break. It was a fast, easy transition into a great virtual role, so it really worked out for us in a difficult time.”

Janelle learned about Activus Connect and with a quick inquiry about possible roles, a formal application, and a virtual interview process, she was welcomed into the Activus Connect family, limiting her period of unemployment to just two weeks.

“I feel incredibly blessed to have found work so quickly; it’s completely unheard of in this particular year,” she laughed. “We definitely got lucky, but I think our experience helps me to provide better service to others in the same situation. People really appreciate being able to talk to someone who understands how difficult it is out there.”

Leaving Office Life Behind

As an Ambassador at Activus Connect, this is the first time Janelle has worked in a work-at-home environment. After so many years in the corporate world, the transition from office-based to SmartVirtual™ has been extremely difficult for her, but she’s found several ways to adapt and enjoy the changes.

“The biggest challenge for me has been to stay in the same space all day, without the freedom to walk around and talk to colleagues in-person,” she said. “I miss those interactions with people or the little trips to the printer and the coffee station. You can take breaks at home and get things done around the house, but it’s definitely not the same feeling as being in an office.”

Even though she misses a lot about the office environment, Janelle still has a lot of love for the benefits of work-at-home employment.

“I love being around when my daughter gets home from school, or just being there for those moments that you’d miss if you were at the office,” she explained. “Things take longer when you’re away from home and you usually come home tired, so it’s more difficult to spend quality time with those you love.”

Something else that Janelle does appreciate about work-at-home is the ability to communicate with her team members easily throughout the day, as well as being able to ask the leadership team questions and get answers right away.

“There are definitely trade-offs, but the good totally outweighs the bad once you get the hang of work-at-home,” she said. “To everyone new to virtual employment, I’d say give it a little time and be open-minded. It’s difficult to transition at first, but it gets a lot easier over time.”

The Benefits of an Activus Career

Since becoming an Ambassador, Janelle has been pleasantly surprised by the flexibility that Activus provides her.

“If something changes in your life and you need to change schedules, all you have to do is ask and it’s sorted out—that’s pretty refreshing coming from a strict 9-5 environment,” she said. “They’re extremely kind and considerate, which helps a lot because you know you’re not stuck in a particular time loop.”

Culturally, everything about Activus surprised her at first, as it was all so new. Despite the initial culture shock, Janelle has found that someone is always there to answer her questions and make her feel at ease in the SmartVirtual™ environment, which is a rare thing in the customer service industry.

“Above all, it feels great to help other people in their time of need, and I hope I can continue to support others as much as Activus Connect supports me.”