POST-COVID WORLD: The Future of the Workplace
Home Office Work Model
by Jandy Sales | March 2021
Remote working is not new to senior software engineer, Marcelo Cavalcante Rocha, who relocated to Toronto, from Fortaleza, Brazil, in 2015. Marcelo works for the retail technology company Flipp – that makes use of an app to help users save money and plan their purchases better.
It was on March 16th, of last year, that the home office work model began to evolve and was about to become part of Marcelo’s daily routine. On that day, Flipp relayed to its employees their plan to initiate remote work. This decision was made a week after the World Health Organization announced they were proclaiming Covid-19, to be a global pandemic. “The company decided not to wait for a statement from the Government of Canada, and acted as soon as the WHO declared the pandemic”, he said.
Optimism combined with comfort
Senior software engineer Marcelo C. Rocha, working at home alongside his wife, Débora Gadelha, and their cat Sophia.
Marcelo viewed the opportunity of working in the comfort of his own home with optimism. “The company not only provided extra monitors and chairs, but also financial aid to purchase other home office equipment and allowances for high-speed Internet.”
This work model of the home-office precipitated Marcelo’s decision to re-locate. Last November, he and his wife, Débora Gadelha, along with their cat, Sophia, moved 80 km north from their home in North York, to Barrie, Ontario – a city with a population of about 150,000.
“I used to lose two and a half hours of my day between commuting to and from work. Often three hours, depending on the time I would leave the office”, he explained.
According to Marcelo, into the first three months of the global pandemic, it appeared that remote work was here to stay, especially in the field of technology. “The company also informed us in the first half of 2020, that it would not force anyone to go back to work in the office. The office will be optional,” he said.
Remote monitoring of the company’s employees, their activities and projects follow a particular model by management, according to Marcelo, and involves “specific rituals”, such as the Daily Stand Up Meeting or Daily Scrum.
“It is a morning meeting between your team and your manager in which each member of the team will briefly share: what they did yesterday, what they will do today and if they encountered any hindrances or obstacles.”
Productivity and the home office
Marcelo does not allow working from home to affect his professionalism or compromise his productivity. Having worked for start-up companies, since moving to Canada, he noted they seek to promote their employees’ well-being by offering a variety of fun activities such as table tennis, pool, and video games.
This relaxed scenario within the company for which Marcelo works today has been proof that keeping the focus on performing professional tasks at home has not been a problem.
“With my wife, it is easy. She understands that I am working and respects my space and is quiet as possible. Now with Sophia, our cat – she is totally oblivious to the situation, but with her calm nature; she sleeps for most of the day,” he added.
“Remote work is the future of work”
Journalist Jandy Sales spoke with career coach Judit Lovas to learn more about the future of the workplace during and after the pandemic, as well as how this shift in the workplace has impacted relations between workers and their bosses, coworkers, and family.
Discover Magazine: What first came to mind about the new normal of the remote workplace, and how it has changed the practices and interactions between workers, their employers, co-workers, and customers?
Judit Lovas: As a career coach, my first thought was that my clients will need to learn new skills, enabling them to work efficiently from home and remain employed. Flexibility, resilience, and self-direction are essential in today’s environment, along with one’s ability to adapt and work independently. Successful employment can be achieved by strengthening and building upon these skills.
Personal communication has always been essential to the core and success of organizations. It is imperative for employees to learn how to connect effectively and responsibly and build positive relationships with co-workers and clients through messaging, email, and meeting virtually in a respectful manner.
DM: Do you think employees are adequately prepared and able to definitively adapt to this new model of work interminably?
Lovas: Remote work is the future of work. Not only because most employees like flexibility and zero commute time, but also because most employers consistently experience increased productivity, efficiency, and employee morale.
To make this new model work, however, employees need targeted support from management. For example, it can be very helpful to share the best practices of experts with remote work experiences and also to offer an open line of communication where struggling employees can get some additional assistance. Employers may also have to provide extra technical support (i.e. VPN for secure internet access) or trainings (i.e. resiliency training) and minimize the tools their employees use.
DM: Away from the office and co-workers, how can an employee stay focused while working at home, with so many distractions of family being side by side, 24/7?
Lovas: It is important your home office space be used only for work – your bed is probably not the best option! If possible, set work hours based on the times you are most energetic, focused, and productive. Being home all day, does not mean you are always available. Set healthy boundaries, especially if you have children. Start each day with an “I am going to work”, mindset. Get dressed (at the very least avoid wearing your PJs!), and ensure that your workday has a consistent start and finish time. Often those working from home tend to work longer hours, so I recommend using a time tracking app to record and/or a simple timer to clock out for the day.
DM: What advice would you give to anyone thinking of changing careers during this period of uncertainty?
Lovas: Willing to change careers during the pandemic is not at all ill-conceived! In fact, it could be a move that ensures you remain in the workforce. Many economists predict that approximately fifty percent of the jobs existing today will disappear by 2025, due to automation and the COVID-19 recession. The positive news is they also foresee emerging new and diverse positions being created. These massive changes will require individuals to be flexible and tenacious in their pursuit of employment in the future.
DM: What advice would you give to those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and wish to return to the job market?
Lovas: It is easy to fall into the role of the victim, but do not allow yourself to be consumed by negative emotions and feelings which may arise due to a job loss. Challenge any negative thoughts with a positive affirmation, such as, “I choose to see this event as an opportunity for growth.” Ask yourself, what steps must be taken for securing employment when these new opportunities become available? Perhaps it could involve re-education and learning a new skill, becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own business or simply making new contacts and networking? Embrace that which you never thought you had the courage to do or be!
Be mindful that critical thinking, active listening, problem solving, resilience, and stress tolerance are the soft skills, critical to your search and ultimately securing a new job. Stop ruminating on the past and start building your future!
We invite you to read the latest edition of Discover magazine
March 2021 : https://www.magazinediscover.com/discover-digital/