I have been working at Uzinakod for over three years now. Telecommuting came quickly to the company culture in 2019. Employees had the option of working from home two days a week. In IT, this was easy to implement, as all you needed (and still need) were a computer, keyboard, mouse, optional second monitor, and Teams software for communication, and then you’re all set. Personally, I find that it has a direct impact on productivity and deliverables: you have this feeling of proving to the employer that they are right to trust you, and that your presence in the office is not necessary for you to do a good job.
Then the pandemic came along and shook things up. Telecommuting is no longer an option, but has become a full-time requirement. At Uzinakod, it wasn’t difficult to set up, considering the hardware and communication tools already in use. But there is one thing that no company was prepared for: the infamous social distancing. Sooner or later, depending on the individual, you feel it in a big way or a small way, and you have to manage your emotions.
Uzinakod advocates the human touch. Listening and empathy are part of our fundamental values. After several months of living alone, I was strongly encouraged to go back to my family and my spouse in France. Very happy to have kept my job during this complicated period, the weight of the mental load, increasingly heavy, nevertheless had its effect in the long term.
Having immigrated to Quebec in 2013, I finally decided to go back to France temporarily to surrounded myself with loved ones (with the greatest respect for sanitary rules… that goes without saying). Telecommuting has proven to have a positive impact on productivity. Is it the same if you work remotely from abroad? Yes and no! I’ll share my experience with you in several key points.
The first point that comes clearly to mind is the mental adjustment. Having been used to returning to my home country for vacations over the past eight years, the first two weeks of work were a bit of a challenge. I had to find motivation to focus in a “relaxed” family environment. But I wanted to succeed, to prove that I could be trusted, that all files would be processed and delivered on time while maintaining the quality of the content.
Time Difference and Understanding of Employees
I have often been asked: “How did you deal with the six-hour time difference? Did you work on the Quebec schedule or on the French schedule?” My answer: a mix of both! My job involves working in teams, with clients and partners. It was therefore important for me not to be a burden or to impose my new schedule too much. Certainly, there is an adjustment to be made on both sides, but I am very lucky to work with understanding and flexible people. I organized my workday according to the scheduled meetings: from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. or from 11 A.M. to 7 P.M. This allowed me to be fully available in the morning for Montreal.
When you work on a common schedule, meetings are planned all day long. We schedule blocks of time so that we can concentrate and work on deliverables. The time difference made this task much easier! While Montreal was sleeping, I could easily think, produce, create and deliver files quickly without being “disturbed” or lured away by pop-up messages from the team. This is an extremely positive point in my experience, and one that I have decided to apply as best I can since my return.
Managing Stress and Guilt
Being out of step with others inevitably affects your daily life. As much as possible, you want nothing to change, so that the impact of being away is minimal. Primarily out of respect for your colleagues, but also for your professional conscience. But this is far from easy. You still impose a schedule, you are far away and not always available, you see the notifications and emails on your cell phone all evening. It was hard for me not to respond to messages, not to feel guilty, to try my best not to slow down others’ work. I had to learn to be a little more detached when I was “off the clock” and accept that my hours were done.
The main reason I came home was to be close to my family during this delicate and difficult period. Now more than ever, having the opportunity to enjoy time with my loved ones is priceless, and has been a major contributor to my well-being and professional growth. I don’t feel I’ve thanked the managers enough for giving me this opportunity to work abroad!
In conclusion, it’s all about habit and adaptation. The notions of trust, flexibility and professional attitude take on their full meaning with this experience. Working anywhere, even with a significant time difference, is quite possible as long as the profession or field of activity allows for it. I sincerely believe that this will open more doors for companies in the future. At Uzinakod, anyway, the option is already available! Composed of a multicultural team, other colleagues were able to work temporarily from Brazil, Tunisia and Guadeloupe. This is only the beginning! 😉
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