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The future of at-home working post-pandemic

NOW: The future of at-home working post-pandemic

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - As governors continue to roll out new executive orders, businesses and their employees are waiting for the go-ahead to go back to normal.

But is that normal going to be the same?

ABC57  is taking a closer look at that over the next three weeks. Part two is tonight with a look at the future of at-home working and if residents will continue to stay home after the executive orders are lifted.

Even us at ABC57 are having to face adjustments in our everyday work. We bring our equipment home every single night, we have our meetings and conduct our interviews using video conferencing platforms like Zoom, and sometimes we even go live on TV inside our homes, but what will our jobs and all of your jobs look like post-pandemic?

“This is where we’re set up, it’s in the dining room. We’ve got places for kids to sit,” Lindsay Helman, a 4th-grade teacher at Mary Frank Elementary, said about her said up.

“Desk set-up where I’m able to pretty much do a lot of the things I would normally do at work but in the house,” David Rafinski, the Vice President for Jones Petrie Rafiniski, a local architecture engineering firm, said about his at-work set-up.

“I have my work-from-home buddy here boomer who keeps me company throughout the day,” Erik Gonzalez-Mule, an assistant professor at the Kelley School of Business in Bloomington said about his at-home work set-up.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of people are now working from home.

“Our first day at home was March 16th,” Michelle Gladora, a senior project manager at People Link Staffing Solutions in South Bend said. She helps others find jobs during this time.

“We just provide jobs for people that that need them,” Gladora said.

But as more companies transitioned those working at the office to working online and at home, she knew her company was next.

“It was a matter of, hey, this is coming. It was a Friday morning about 11 o'clock, we decided to pull the plug and it was you know, our technology department went to every person are you good to work from home, you know, like what do you need? Do you need a hotspot? Like what is it that you still need to make your business function at home,” she said.

With more people working at home. It’s quite easy to just roll out of bed and go to work in the morning but the transition isn’t as seamless as you may think.

“The first week was an utter failure,” she said.

Especially with four boys at home.

“It was hard cause I’m like, I’m on the phone, stop, you know, like, don't come in here. You got to stay away and now it's like my kids come up and hug me and give me kisses. And it's like, this is just the new normal now you know,” she said.

But the experience has also been rewarding and even fun. To boost morale, Michelle’s company has set up activities and theme days.

“We decided to kick it off and we're going to have like a spirit homecoming dress-up week of different days. So on Monday, the 13th we did pajama day,” she said.

On Tuesday they did a crazy hair day. Each day employees would post pictures on the company's Facebook.

“We've done events every day since then,” she said.

Gladora’s situation probably sounds families as more and more people here even in Michiana have moved to working at home.

Whether you run a company like David…

“We’re having to rethink how we’re doing presentations, how we’re expressing our thoughts, our design to our client, and still be able to stay on track with the schedule,” he said.

Or run a classroom like Lindsay...
“It’s taken a time of adjustment,” she said. “It’s balancing my work and their work and the dog barking and everyone needing, lots of chaos. it’s about getting used to the storm and how to navigate a lot of distractions.”

But once this pandemic is over, will more people want to continue working from home or will they miss getting out of the house and going to the office?

“It’s redefining what we used to know,” Gladora said. “I do expect to see a hybrid of working remote and being in the office.”

“We have learned a lot of strategies and a lot of ways to enhance our teaching through this experience. We can take the good parts and implement it,” Helman said.

Business experts say that there will be a switch to more at-home working, but not a full transformation.

“Employers who were not comfortable with people working at home in the past now they are and they see that yes the work is getting done and as good a quality. So I think that employers will probably be more flexible in the future,” Elizabeth Malatestinic, senior lecturer of HR at IU Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis said.

But there will be some changes going forward.
“They’re going to have to do something to try and spread people out. I could see something, like you said cafeteria, having lunch shifts,” Gonzalez-Mule said. “I could also see businesses coming up with a system where certain people come to the office on certain days and not others.”

The future is quickly becoming the present with Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb attempting to reopen the state for business over the next two months, with May 11th being a major first step in reopening businesses like clothing stores and restaurants.

It will be interesting to see how work from home plays a role in the daily grind moving forward.

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