WORKING from home (WFH)doesn’t necessarily mean you get to finish earlier than usual.
Take it from Tes Veloso, senior director for vendor strategy and relationship management at Thomson Reuters, who still finds herself behind a desk at home until 11 p.m.
“I usually start at 8 a.m. and finish at 11 p.m. This is very much like the hours I had when going to the office except that the time I used to spend in traveling to and from the office are now spent at my desk at home,” Ms. Veloso told BusinessWorld in an e-mail interview on April 22.
Ms. Veloso, who heads Thomson Reuters’ Manila site operations, may have avoided traffic jams but says her online work meetings are occasionally interrupted by “barking dogs,” “hissing cats,” and even a wandering Mom.
The interview has been lightly edited.
WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED ONLINE MEETING METHOD AND WHY?
Thomson Reuters (TR) uses MSTeams to meet. This is part of Office 365. It integrated our communication tools allowing us to not only meet, but share files and chat with colleagues and teammates on our computers and mobile devices. We migrated into this new platform in 2019. This move made it easier for all of us to transition to work from home because everyone had what they needed on their drives and could connect with anyone in TR around the world.
PLEASE DESCRIBE YOUR HOME OFFICE
I count myself as lucky to have a room with a door to call my office. There are a few things about my office that I wanted to highlight: My desk was once a door to our old dining room. It is propped on top of two blue huge vases that were gifted by a family friend a long time ago. What was once was the aircon is now just an airy rectangular opening (the A/C broke down a few weeks before the lockdown). I have a couch behind me that I have not had the time to use and a treadmill to my right that inexplicably stopped working on the first week of the lockdown.
DOES WORKING FROM HOME MAKE WORK HOURS MORE FLUID?
It absolutely does! Somehow when we are working from home, we end up working longer hours and blurring the once natural lines between work and home. We need to be mindful about this because we can’t be available all day, every day. Equally important, we can’t expect others to be available all day, every day either.
DO YOU TAKE BREAKS AT HOME?
It’s the breaks that help keep my mind fresh throughout the day. I don’t have a specific thing I do during my breaks — it really varies depending on how much time I have. In between some meetings, you will find me in the kitchen preparing snacks or meals. We’ve learned to be more creative in the kitchen using available ingredients to prepare new dishes that we did not have the time for before. I also try to take yoga breaks every day. I’ve been able to get my nephew to join me. He puffs and grunts his way through the practice but comes back every day for more. I also check in with teammates, family and friends throughout the day — keeping connected with them and knowing how they are doing helps when you can’t see them in person.
DO YOU DRESS FOR WORK?
I go to “work” in a nice top, shorts, and barefoot. I don’t think that my feet will be able to adjust to heels when we are back in the office. I also put on a “work from home face” — which means fixing my hair and putting on light makeup but with the heat, that’s gone by lunch.
ANY INTERESTING STORIES BASED ON YOUR WFH EXPERIENCE?
Barking dogs and hissing cats are daily fare in my house. I was on a video conference once. The door was closed (a sign to everyone not to enter) when my mom walked in, walked behind me to take a pen and paper from my desk to write a note. My colleague was sweet enough to actually stop our meeting and wave “Hi!” to her.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM WORKING FROM HOME?
Ultimately, making this arrangement work rests with having a strong culture that is lived by the people. So that, regardless of disruptions or changes to the way we have to work, we’re still able to bring out the best of ourselves and our teams. The shift to working from home emphasized one of TR’s values: Trust — The ability to trust team members in a WFH set-up is crucial for our managers. We went from 0% to 100% working from home in the space of a few days.
When we did this, there was no question in our mind that our people would deliver — we just needed to make sure that we set them up in the best way possible to do this. We trusted that every member of the team would act with positive intent and knew that we could trust them to get the job done even without the personal interactions with their managers and teammates that characterized how we used to working.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WILL CONTINUE EVEN AFTER THIS?
Yes, exercise. While I’ve known this for I while, it took the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) to make me fully appreciate that exercising does not require access to gyms, yoga studios, or the UP Academic Oval. All you really need is a space and a little discipline until you build a routine making exercise a part of your day. I’d like to believe that while we are staying home and staying safe, we are also getting healthier. — Cathy Rose A. Garcia