Back to the Office

This month, SAM’s workforce has begun a gradual return to the office. While most of us remain at home, the employees in Group 1 have shared what it’s like being back after a nearly 8-week hiatus.

What Made You Choose to Go Back First?

Those in Group 1 elected to be among the first to return to the office. Mimi Hoffman, Rachel Witzel, and Ryan Nations describe why they decided to return.

A big theme was a desire for normal structure and routine.

“I was ready to get back to waking up, getting dressed, and going into the office,” Mimi said. “I feel more like myself.”

Ryan mentioned enjoying working from home, but knew at some point he would have to go back. And he figured there’s no time like the present.

What’s It Like Being Back in the Office?

“It’s very quiet, kind of like working on the weekends,” Rachel said. “Occasionally, someone will walk by, but mostly all you can hear is the A/C running and the keystrokes around you.” 

Rachel went on to say that the office has fewer distractions for her than working at home. The lack of barking dogs and delivery people helps her to stay focused. 

For Mimi, being back has brought back memories.

“It definitely makes you miss everyone else now that you’ve seen a few people,” Mimi said. “It’s a different vibe, but it’s good to have others here. Now I want to see everyone else, too!”

How Are the New Safety Measures?

To make for a healthy workplace, SAM has created a safety plan with rules and supplies for those in the office.

“I’m really glad we have the safety rules in place,” Rachel said. “The biggest adjustment is remembering to put on your mask when you leave your seat, but having the guidelines makes me feel safer.”

Ryan caught on to the changes quickly.

“It’s a pretty easy adjustment,” Ryan said. “I try not to touch too many things, and if I do, STRONG gave us our own sanitizers. What more can you do besides being put in a bubble?” 

The trio described the limits on copy room, kitchen, and bathroom capacities as easy to follow. With only a fraction of the workforce back, crowding isn’t an issue.

Advice for Those Returning Soon

Mimi, Rachel, and Ryan offered a few words of advice for team members who are planning to return in the coming weeks.

“My advice would be to come back,” Mimi said. “For me, it made life a lot easier. I have two monitors, a better computer, and more to work with. A week before I returned, I started getting up earlier to get myself back in the habit of a normal office routine.”

“Give yourself some grace if things feel a little weird for the first few days back,” Rachel said. “It can feel weird because you’re breaking what was the ‘new normal.’ The office is a lot different than the environment at your house.”

“The transition is easy, don’t stress out about it,” Ryan said reassuringly.

Right now, SAM is closely monitoring the return to the office to make sure it happens in a safe and responsible way. As more of us transition from remote to in-office workers, it helps to keep in mind the encouraging advice from those who did it first.

Heading Back to the Future

Anyone who has seen Back to the Future can recognize the iconic car used to traverse the space-time continuum: the DeLorean DMC-12.

While the futuristic world of 2015 has come and gone, one relic remains in the parking lot of Strong.

Graphic Designer Ryan Nations is the proud owner of a restored 1983 DeLorean, the last model year ever produced. To learn how he came into possession of this timeless vehicle, we’ll have to take a trip through time.


Nine-year-old Ryan was seated beside his father as the two cruised down the highway in the family’s then-new truck. His dad nudged him and pointed out the window.

“Look at this cool car that’s about to pass us,” Ryan’s dad said.

The two had to come to a near-stop to let the DeLorean pass, but when it finally did, the image engrained itself into Ryan’s consciousness and never faded.

Ever since that moment, Ryan has been obsessed with DeLoreans. When he was 12, he got his first computer and dedicated all of his time to researching the automobile.

A few years later, Ryan had gotten older, but his fascination had yet to wane. His grandfather was the proprietor of a used car lot, and he had promised all of his grandchildren a car when they turned 16. Naturally, Ryan was set on the DeLorean, but he wasn’t quite sure how to make it happen.

Two days before his sixteenth birthday, Ryan was at the BJCC’s World of Wheels show that he attended annually with his father. The two were surveying the displays, when lo and behold, a DeLorean made its debut.

“When I saw it I started freaking out,” Ryan said. “Then I started freaking out even more when I saw that it was for sale. I immediately told my grandfather that was the car I wanted.”

So, for three years, the DeLorean was Ryan’s sole mode of transportation. Over time, he has taken apart every piece of the car, though not all at once. Even more surprisingly, the car never broke down during the three years that it was his only vehicle.

Present-Day Adventures

You may have glimpsed Ryan’s unmistakable ride at the company tailgate party this year, but that was far from its first special appearance.

For the past decade, Ryan and his DeLorean have taken part in the Altoona, Alabama, Christmas parade.

This small town, located between Oneonta and Gadsden, boasts an impressive holiday parade for its size. Ten years ago, its organizers found Ryan on a classic cars website and asked him to be a part of their celebration. Ever since, he has made the trek to Altoona, with no shortage of adventures or mishaps.

One year, Ryan and his crew had to bring their own blankets for warmth thanks to the DeLorean’s malfunctioning heat system. The next year, the heater was working, but the dashboard lights had given out. So, the crew made the one-hour trip in the dark using Ryan’s iPhone flashlight to read the speedometer.

“The speedometer maxes out at 85, so there’s really no telling how fast we were going down those back roads,” Ryan laughed, adding that the phone overheated before they even arrived.

Despite its age, the DeLorean has completed several successful road trips to places like Atlanta, Tupelo, and Huntsville.

Ryan’s passion for this little piece of history continues. Every so often, discerning eyes can catch the gullwing doors raising in the front parking lot as Ryan emerges, smiling, from one of his most prized possessions.