'People are productive at home': Zooming in on remote work one year into the pandemic
Working from home has become a new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic.
WINNIPEG -- The pandemic has changed our lives in many different ways. One of the most visible is how and where we work.
Last March, many of us left offices behind and started working from home. Doug Rea, a financial consultant with IG Wealth management, had to make a quick adjustment.
"We showed up to work, and sure enough, we were given 48 hours to clear out the office because of the COVID-19 protocols."
Since then, Rea has been working virtually, conducting video meetings with clients and team members alike. Luckily, his company had been in the process of upgrading its technology before the pandemic.
"I was very grateful to have these tools so I could continue on."
He's far from alone. COVID-19 created an exodus from the office, upending work routines and expectations about the very nature of remote work.
"The impacts have been very different from what people would have guessed they would be," said Professor Katherine Breward, an associate professor in the University of Winnipeg's business department.
She says before the pandemic, some organizations worried about productivity and discipline issues. But, she says that isn't proving to be a major problem.
"Now obviously there are some people that are working from home in very difficult circumstances where they're having to home-school and whatnot and that you know may be causing some, some issues with focus. But on a broad basis, people are working hard, people are productive at home."
The technology to be productive at home hasn't been flawless for everyone. There have been several incidents of video fails during the pandemic such as the lawyer who couldn't figure out how to remove a cat filter. And a Congressman whose video got flipped during a committee meeting. But, not all of the problems from video meetings were technological.
These video calls force you to look at your own face. And it seems not everyone was pleased with what they saw.
"They realize, ‘Wow, I've got all these wrinkles on my forehead and crow’s feet,' and they're thinking, 'geez, I look older than I feel,’" said plastic surgeon Dr. Manfred Ziesmann.
Dr. Ziesmann says he has experienced a mad rush for appointments to get Botox, fillers, and other procedures to help people rejuvenate their look.
"As soon as we were open, they wanted to hightail it in," he said.
And then, feeling fresher, they continue their work from home. This is something University of Manitoba professor Fang Wan believes will likely continue in some form, even after the pandemic is over.
"Maybe it's a hybrid model," speculated Wan. "Maybe it's a 70 per cent to 30 per cent, and 30 per cent of the time you come to the office and we rotate. We don't need you all to be in the office."
Rea says he's enjoying working from home, and once the pandemic is over he would like a hybrid model, meeting some clients face to face and others he'd continue seeing virtually.
It is new flexibility he never thought would be possible prior to the pandemic.