Workplaces have had to adapt to the new reality.
In March 2020, when our country went into lockdown, we started learning that we could do all kinds of jobs without going to the office. Not all jobs that traditionally required face-to-face meetings really needed this functionality.
Now, in August 2021, as workplaces start to open in person again, we can find that the temporary home office has become permanent, replacing the daily commute.
Some workers, detached from their workplaces, took the opportunity to move away from Detroit, and others settled here, drawn by what this region has to offer.
Deena Englard lived – and worked – in a cramped apartment with her husband and children in Queens, NY Englard is the artistic director of 14 Minds, a company that designs campaigns for nonprofits in the Jewish community. When she and her family decided to move to Oak Park, her boss was totally okay with the move. “Just tell me your address so I can send you anything that needs to be mailed.” “
In Queens, whenever the virtual background on Zoom failed, customers could see that she was working from her bedroom, “looking unprofessional.” With the printer in one room, the computer in another, and the hard-to-reach natural light, you had to scurry all over the apartment to do anything. In his new home in Oak Park, in a room dedicated to his home office, with natural light, the printer next to his desk, the desktop computer (with a bigger hard drive) and a large screen , she can work much more efficiently.
Englard adds that this year her husband’s uncle also moved to Oak Park – from California. A software engineer, he worked remotely in a company in Silicon Valley. Now he has a new job, by chance at a company in Detroit, but he works in an office in his new home. He did not see the interior of the company’s office building.
Freedom of movement
Other workers arranged to continue working in the Detroit area even after moving. Daniel Jacobovitz continued to work, helping clients use his employer’s manufacturing statistics software as he moved his family from Oak Park to Efrat, Israel. He still works during Eastern time, from early evening to deep night, local time in Israel.
Sometimes that fails: in a difficult situation, a local professional made a commitment to move his family to Israel with the assurance that he could continue to work remotely at his post. Then his employer withdrew the offer.
Micha Zwick of Huntington Woods owns Inherit More, a private investigative firm specializing in helping those who have lost loved ones to find and receive their inheritance. Working remotely, with his wife also working virtually, allowed the Zwick family to “skip a winter in Michigan and spend it in Florida instead.”
Some of the personal benefits of working from home are obvious. Deena Englard lists a few: âNo commute to work: more time at homeâ. She adds, âIf I need to drop the kids off in the morning, pick them up in the afternoon, or run an errand, I can do whatever I need and get back to work right away.
Michael Zwick agrees: âSince our kids first went to distance school and then moved on to home schooling, it’s great that I can be available to help them. “
Gail Berkove is a psychotherapist in private practice in Southfield, with many years of experience counseling clients. âWith the COVID-19 outbreak, companies have made it possible for us to provide therapy remotely,â she says. Since confinement, she “gives advice exclusively by telephone”. She was surprised at “how successful the results were”.
She clarifies, âEven without the important visual cues that you get face to face, my clients are still able to move forward successfully in resolving any issues or issues they are working on in a phone session. “
Berkove has even developed new customers since the COVID outbreak. “They don’t know what I look like, and I don’t know what they look like.”
Berkove notes a benefit of telephone therapy sessions for elderly and disabled clients, âwho often have difficulty getting to a therapist’s office. Some of them need assistance with transportation, which can lead to complications. The commute is much easier when they just have to pick up the phone: it’s reliable, fast and convenient.
Adjustment of workplaces
Workplaces have had to adapt to the new reality. Some believe that informal collaboration works less well when everyone is working remotely, and formal and deliberately planned collaboration becomes more important.
Englard notes that his business has grown during the pandemic and that his colleagues stay in touch with each other on Zoom throughout the day.
But remote work has its drawbacks for the worker as it becomes more difficult to separate from work. There is no obstacle in getting back to the computer at any time for a small task, and one can end up getting back to work at any time.
Zwick says: “The flip side of being in the same house as my kids all the time is being on call all the time. It has been a real challenge trying to record audio for an e-learning platform that we will be launching soon and having audio interruptions from children and / or dogs.
âAs a business owner, I’ve always been available 24/7, but my real working hours tended to be when I was in the office,â he added. “Now I could hurry an hour or two very early before someone else in the house wakes up, then take some free time in the middle of the day for family matters, then work again after the children are in bed. “
As the restrictions are lifted, provisionally, what can we anticipate? Will employers start demanding face-to-face work again? Maybe if many people in the workforce expect to be able to work remotely full or part time, that could become a norm.
Berkove says she “would really like to see remote psychotherapy sessions become an accepted option.” However, she notes, “It really depends on whether the insurance companies will cover it.”