ASQ moved to a fully remote workforce at the beginning of the pandemic. Virtual meetings were the new norm. Odd at first, but now it’s second nature. As we start coming back into the office, I realize all the things I’ve missed! The natural collaboration that happens when you randomly see someone in the hall and start talking. Suddenly, you are sharing what you’re working on and seeing a connection that could benefit other areas within the company. Conversely, I find it distracting to have so much activity, talking, and typing happening around me! I was used to listening to my music and getting to work.
What are the differences you’re seeing? Are you back in the office?
I look forward to hearing about your experience
Yes, definitely major changes!! In my case, I retired just at the start of that period and I went from ‘official’ to almost full-time volunteer work for the ASQ Montreal Section. I updated our myASQ site (take a look), assisted in Newsletter posts and learned the new tools of the virtual world — Webex, Teams and Zoom — and became our Section's webinar host.
During that same period, the others on the SLT have also become "teleworkers" or even embarked on the extreme challenge — new careers — virtually applying for new jobs and companies. Spending hours in front of a screen is exhausting and they are all feeling it. I can see it at our regular meetings and webinars. Many are auditors and they have had to face this new virtual-audit challenge. The upside to our webinar events is that our pool of speakers has included various places in the world and even participants from outside our usual local circle.
But, since we are social creatures, we are definitely looking forward to finally getting back to a three-dimensional physical world where we can meet around a real table, a hallway, a coffee machine and exchange on various themes. That's what has stimulated us the most in the past.
Our next SLT challenge will be to develop a mix of webinar and physical worlds events. It will not be easy. But it offers opportunities.
All the best to all of you, JP
Even though we did not go completely remote, meetings were all virtual. Our office staff are still working partially remote. I love remote meetings. I believe it is less distracting and more focused. However, time to time we need everyone's physical presence and face to face interactions. After all we are social being.
Being physically present during COVID prime time was pretty scary. We tried to maintain social distancing within limitations. We made many adjustments during COVID to run our manufacturing facility. Some of the period we were working four days a week with longer hours shifts to reduce interactions for one day. Some times we divided in shifts. All meetings were virtual. Most of the communications was through messaging apps.
Hope we do not go back to same situation again. It was not fun….
I agree with you, Trish, and Jean-Pierre. I forgot what I missed while working remotely and we indeed are social creatures! I work in healthcare, and we still wear masks everywhere and meet mostly remotely. I have found (outside a few things like observations) that facilitating PI projects remotely works fine and seems to promote better attendance, especially for physicians. I suppose, like all changes, there is some not so good and some good with the COVID-related changes.
I retired just at the start of the pandemic, but decided to continue working part-time since travel was impossible at that time. I volunteered to help Philadelphia ASQ develop a great series of webinars to continue providing value to members, served a year as chair, and am now program chair. Our leadership team meetings became virtual only, and I don’t see that changing. It’s free and certainly more convenient for our team. Having virtual meetings and webinars means we no longer have to source local speakers, which has been a blessing. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the years ahead.
I worked through about half of the pandemic which entailed working in the office, furloughs, and remote working. Then I lost my job. I had been contemplating a job change anyhow to becoming a consultant/contractor and was planning for that, just several years down the road. That forced me to implement my plan more immediately. That last year of the pandemic entailed building my business, continuing education, studying for & passing 2 ASQ certification exams (CMDA, CSQP), learning how to run my own business and learning how consulting/contracting works. So, a year out from starting my own consulting/contracting business I can attest that it is successful and consistent. I am still doing some remote work, travel more, work less, spend more time with my family and am less stressed.
I think the major changes that my work has changed is that I am not enslaved to time or a location. They have also discovered what is truly important in their lives and anything that squelches those important things is discarded. One thing that many people realized through the pandemic is there are alternatives to what you were doing. Intellectually they knew this of course. The pandemic and being classified as essential and nonessential was a slap in the face that awakened many to the fact that they could actively make the choice and not just be a spectator in their own lives. This is, in all likelihood, the reason for the Great Resignation. People had to take ownership of their life and path. They could and should make their own way and take charge of that path because a factory or a government could deem you or your job nonessential. Well that job was essential to them, they are essential to their family. Now people are deeming what is essential and nonessential in their lives. Much to the chagrin of their former or current employers these employees are deeming them nonessential and leaving for something or somewhere that values them and has the same values as they do. It is not enough to just cut a paycheck. A company/corporation must have a good culture, value their employees, have good values, and be flexible. They always should have been but the shadow of the Industrial Revolution has loomed large since about 1780. The scientific-technological revolution came next and made work easier but didn't change much of the human dynamic. Now as we are in the Digital Revolution on the cusp of something bigger the human dynamic has changed and I think for the better in many ways. I guess we shall see.
I started working for my company just over nine years ago as a fully remote employee., so there was no transition to remote work for me. However, my friends and I joked often that my real office was the airport. I started at my job as a product designer and quickly transitioned into product implementation/consulting which involves extensive travel at times. At the beginning of the pandemic, I was slated to be on travel every single week for the first half of the year which suddenly came to a stop at the end of March.
The major change for us then was shifting from onsite activities with our customers to leveraging more WebEx, Teams, and Zoom meetings. Exercising these mechanisms, we quickly learned that adult learning through these is extremely challenging in today’s workforce. It can be easily observed that most people have multiple screens at their desks and multiple devices (i.e., phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops) all occupying their attention, oh and other employees too. Thus, when attempting to accomplish long meetings are training events, the sessions can easily become less efficient than onsite meetings
When traveling resumed, first complying with TSA requirements and then with individual company requirements for admittance was challenging. Many times, even though we would visit the same company per se, it would be a different site of the company and thus they would have different rules for entry even beyond their security requirements. All in all, these things just complicated the traveler’s life significantly, but we survived that too.
I changed jobs within the same parent company during the pandemic. Prior to the change there was little impact, as I was performing internal audits and we were “open for business”; however many of the external suppliers I audited had restrictions to on-site audits. After I changed positions, I saw a major impacted with suppliers moving away from onsite to remote audits.
I will say that during the height of the pandemic there were more virtual meetings that occurred on Teams and Zoom, this was a challenge as I was used to working solo and only seeing my colleagues once a year at our face to face meeting.
I've been working from home since March 16th, 2020. While I do miss seeing people, I've adapted very well to using technology to keep in touch, including the occasional chat to catch up with certain colleagues. I don't miss wasting time and resources traveling to work. It's also better for the environment. I also don't miss catching colds due to poor ventilation systems and people coming to work (in many cases because they felt the had to) while sick. Given we're a global enterprise and I deal with colleagues in Montreal, Quebec; Ottawa, Ontario; Paris, France; and across the US, South America, Europe, Asia, etc. I really can operate quite well from my dining room. Mind you, my spouse is not too crazy about it, but she now pretty much has the car to herself full-time whenever she needs it. My trick for effectiveness? Staying connected via multiple sources: emails, chats, text messages, cell phone, etc.
Working a traditional manufacturing company with low volume high and highly variable product; QE's never got any time off or work from home. Interesting though we have experienced a change in efficiency using newer higher tech collaborative tools. Improvements in WebEx, zoom, and teams; it will be interesting to see if we ever do get any options for virtual review when the next push for off site work occurs. We are a smaller site - I'm expecting the next out of state supplier visit could give that last little nudge to make virtual work possible for our quality team.
@Trish Borzon things changed and then they didn't really change. Initially there was a massive reduction in workload and many employees stayed home. We went from 50+ hours a week down to three 7-8 hour shifts per week. Sadly - we probably would have made more money if we were on layoff. Don't get me wrong - I was still thankful that we were working and I would have been bored staying home (we were considered ‘essential’). I was just unhappy about the financial situation being more advantageous for someone not working versus someone that was. Quite slowly we crept back to ‘normal’ as things got better and the demand for product returned. Along the way our procedures and processes had to be modified to include the potential interruption that we really didn't see coming. The ‘what if’ scenarios. The hand sanitizer stations went up, masking was enforced, meetings were either cancelled or performed via online, when meetings did have to occur then those that participated sat a good distance from each other, wore masks and had to keep a distance when leaving the meetings, and the chemical sprays put through the factory were a weekly occasion. We work in a small to medium inspection office with four people directly in our room. We are fairly spaced from each other but eventually you need to walk past other employees. We certainly follow the CDC recommendations and our company does provide masks and the hand sanitizer stations to help keep COVID to a minimum but yet we still have sporadic problems. The biggest difference now is that we have a plan in place to address the potential risks and you will see people sporadically wearing masks when they feel it is necessary.
@Trish Borzon My world has expanded in very different ways since the beginning of the Pandemic. I collaborated with a great group of people in a virtual Playground to figure out how to switch to virtual programming, which inspired some articles for ASQ publications and the launch of the Data Science Interest Group. I am now talking with people from all over the world in real-time, finding new ways to collaborate. In fact, four of us have been meeting weekly all year to write a book. I have had more opportunities to speak at conferences, gaining confidence. as a I go. Somehow presenting to people virtually is more comfortable, at least for me. This new way of working has been a revelation and a blessing for me.
@Trish Borzon At this point, the only issue is keeping operators. It is really hard to obtain workforce and keep them. I don't know if that is due to covid or the changes in society values.
You might want to see my presentation at WCQI 2022. My work went from requiring 100% travel to zero travel overnight. In fact, we had to transition from auditing on-site to working remotely and did it in a 3 week period in 2020. Although some schemes like IATF are back to being 100% online I continue to perform audits remotely. I am not sure how long that will last. I suspect remote auditing will be a semi-permanent fixture because of all the variants of COVID that keep popping up.