How we are working remotely in a deadline driven industry

By Nelly Nawabi

Just like millions of people around the world, working from home or the ‘virtual office’ has become the new norm. The coronavirus pandemic has brought about a surge of uncertainty and disruption for all of us, and the consensus that we hear is that we can’t help but feel dispirited and irked to be disconnected from our peers.

There’s also the age old, how can I get any work done with the distractions all around? Home is a place of relaxation and enjoyment, not a work zone, – especially for those who now need to homeschool their children or live with their family or in share houses. How do we continue to collaborate, bounce ideas off of each other or consult colleagues on how best to do the tasks at hand when we can’t simply tap someone on the shoulder and have to constantly schedule teams or zoom meetings to have a conversation?

We decided to put this to the test and find out if this was a community wide experience. While we are hearing a lot of doom and gloom in the news including economic crisis, job losses, and loss of productivity given the various restrictions around the world, the fact is that technological advancement has the ability to help workers retain their job and stay in touch with both colleagues and loved ones.

Our recent Twitter poll found over 70% of people working from home are learning it is either ‘easier to manage’ or ‘no different’ than from their office. A staggering statistic when we think about how large the building and construction industry is as a whole and the future for the industry in a post-COVID environment.

DBEI also spoke with a quantity surveyor from Melbourne on how she’s working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nirvana Rampersad said the experience overall has been “manageable” and that she’s adapted to the change. “In terms of social distancing, it was challenging initially,” she said.

“Meetings were moved to online platforms. Also, where access to site was not practical, inspections were carried out virtually. Technology has proven to be very effective in enabling us to work remotely,” she said

And while productivity remains to be a concern for most people, Rampersad said she has managed to stay organized and focused.

“I make sure that I’m on top of project deadlines and communicating with my team on a regular basis,” she said. “I stay connected with them via Microsoft Teams.”

Many people across the nation have expressed feeling lonely in this new working life. Rampersad said she’s enjoying the flexibility.

“Now that I don’t have to travel to the office which took up an hour of my day, I can use the time to do other things,” she said. “I’ve been catching up on reading a few books and attending webinars for my continuous professional development.”

“I eventually adapted to the new ways of working and I can continue working remotely if I have to.”

When asked what tips she had to offer industry members, Rampersad mentioned playing light music in the background and doing daily exercise.

The next question on everyone’s minds is how this will change the future of the working environment, and nobody really knows for sure yet. While we are unlikely to resume our previous working environment, the very fact that we as a community have embraced this change and are maintaining and even increasing productivity suggests that we will make it out of this for the better.

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