Working from Home – Here’s How OSPE Staff is Adjusting

Working from home can be a drastic shift for anyone. Suddenly, routines that have been instilled in us for years—commuting, packing lunches, navigating public transport—have been uprooted. These routines tend to ground us, and are especially valuable in times of crisis, such as COVID-19. Due to the social distancing practices suggested by all levels of Government, OSPE shifted to WFH two weeks ago, to play our role in the crisis. (Please note these questions were answered on March 18th)

We decided to check in with some of our staff to see how they were managing the shift, and hopefully to offer some enlightening perspectives to all!

ANDREA CARMONA – Lead, Policy and Government Relations

What was the shift to working at home like for you? Was it drastic?

andrea working from home

I do find it a very drastic shift. I work from home occasionally, however, working from home every day is very different. I am used to constantly interacting with my colleagues face-to-face and having in-person meetings to strategize and brainstorm, and these things become slightly more challenging when you have to do them digitally. Also, I think anyone who doesn’t have an at home monitor can relate to how much these are needed and missed. It is much easier to work off two screens than one small screen. Lastly, I miss coffee! I don’t actually have a coffee maker at home and I am used to going on a coffee run every morning before getting on the highway.

What did you have to consider?

Luckily, I have everything I need at home.

Was there an unexpected challenge?

I don’t have a desk in my room but prefer to work here to avoid distractions from other members of the household. Again, this has never been an issue when I have worked from home in the past, but feels very different when I am working from home for weeks on end.  I had to consider how working in bed might impact my posture and my body. Therefore, I try to stand through some of my work day to ensure I am keeping my body healthy and aligned!

Was it difficult to arrange alternative childcare?

Luckily this doesn’t apply to me but I completely sympathize with all of the people working from home while trying to care for their dependents.

In this situation, is there a silver lining?

Not having to commute is fantastic. It saves both time and money. Our pets are very happy as well because they can go out whenever they like and have constant attention. And lastly, not having to pick what to wear every day saves time and energy I can just invest into my work.

DANA THOMSON – Board Relations Coordinator

What was the shift to working at home like for you? Was it drastic?

Working from home itself was a simple transition for me. I have previously worked from home for about five years, so I had already established a pretty good routine and mindset. Also, the way OSPE operates on a cloud based system allows seamless access to my files and programs.

What did you have to consider?

My grocery bill nearly doubled this week, as there are now 4 mouths to feed 3 meals and multiple snacks daily. Apparently my children snack constantly all day long! I’m very quickly running out of fresh produce. The biggest consideration has been that my children’s school and daycare has been closed. Both my husband and I have work that needs to be done during the day. A balance of entertaining the kids and working needs to be found, and I’m still working on that.

Was there an unexpected challenge?

The guilt of trying to do everything, but feeling like you aren’t doing any one thing the best you can. There are only so many hours in the day, which just doesn’t feel like enough to get everything done.

Was it difficult to arrange alternative childcare?

This has been the most impacted aspect of my life. Due to the current situation, all daycares and recreation facilities have closed. Typically, I would rely on my parents and in laws for childcare assistance, however, they are all categorized as the most vulnerable to COVID-19. Therefore, we have chosen not to risk anyone’s exposure by keeping our family isolated at home.

In this situation, is there a silver lining?

I’ve seen pictures of Venice water being crystal clear – and that is quite eye opening to me. Reducing pollution has been a beautiful silver lining and I hope that we as a society can learn from this. I also appreciate the technology that we have so readily available – we enjoy daily FaceTime’s with our friends and family members.

KEITH KOLAR – Social Media & Communications Coordinator

What was the shift to working at home like for you? Was it drastic?

The shift for me was easy. I’m already a “homebody” so adjusting to life inside was fairly simple. This is only day 4 though, so we’ll see if that changes.

What did you have to consider?

I had to stock up on a lot more frozen and dried foods that would last me a little while. But besides that, I had a lot of stuff to last me the few weeks already (toilet paper, rice, etc.)

Was there an unexpected challenge?

Working out from home is a little more difficult living in a basement, but not impossible. The hardest thing is not seeing friends or family.

In this situation, is there a silver lining (more time with family, no commuting etc.)

The best part is saving 1.5hrs on my commute everyday. Also, seeing how people come together and help each other out, while maintaining safe distances, has been really cool to see.

MARIANNE SO – Events Specialist

What was the shift to working at home like for you? Was it drastic?

Shift to working from home was not drastic since I’ve WFH before.  Though I’m snacking a lot more!

What did you have to consider?

marianne working from homeOMG, what a global crisis! I just got back from a trip to Portugal before things ramped up in Canada. Luckily we were away for a week before the WHO declared the pandemic and it took Portugal several days to react and enact measures.  The government just on Sunday closed all tourist sites, schools were closed the Thursday before, and restaurants/bars were starting to close the past weekend.  Overall we got to do almost everything we wanted except Monday when a lot was closed.  We flew out luckily on Tuesday morning, as planned.

Having just returned from vacation abroad, I came back to a different life. The flight back was full of Canadians coming home. Everyone was using hand sanitizers, wipes, and some wearing masks.  Practicing social distancing was hard to do on an airplane.  Airports were like a ghost town. It was a relief to be back on Canadian soil though I was required to self isolate for 14 days and to monitor for fever. This was going to be hard to be inside all these days.

Was there an unexpected challenge?

Our families were asking us to come back on Saturday when the PM urged Canadians to come back before border closed and flights scaled down. That was daunting to hear from across the ocean in a different country. With some panic and fear, we waited though hoping we didn’t have to pay $3000 each for an earlier flight back and are EXTREMELY lucky our flight went ahead and we got home safely and without any issues.

Portugal has closed their border since Wed. (Yikes! We missed this by only a day!) and the cases of the virus has shot up to almost 800.  Before we left on March 5, there were only 9 cases, mostly in the north and we were in the west and south.

Since I am not able to leave my home for the 14 days, I had to have enough food dropped off for about 14 days.  Luckily my family did this before I arrived home and I am grateful that they brought me fresh fruits and vegetables, and other necessities. It’s strange because I can’t do what I would normally do on a daily basis. But it’s all for a greater good.

In this situation, is there a silver lining?

Anyhow, I’m relieved to be home.  I’ll take a 14 day quarantine any time!  Making the most of it. It was a great trip overall 😊

Absolutely not having to commute is a bonus! I find that I can get to personal tasks right away including exercising virtually with my instructor, and chores. Though I do miss the in-person connections made at the office, commuting, and running errands.

For more on COVID-19 and its affect on engineering in Ontario, visit our COVID-19 news page

Do you have any best practices for working from home? Share them in the comments below!

Leave a Reply