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Executive Interview : Working From Home - Exclusive Interview With Denis Charron from Mcgill University Health Centre

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Mcgill University Health Centre
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How easy is it to set up a workspace/ home office?
Fairly easy.

What technology / equipment do you need?
Good Internet access (my end), good antivirus (my end) + good connectivity platform (employer's end)

Do you feel people working from home work harder, about the same or less than those working in an office environment
They can usually do more in less time. However in the covid-19 crisis, if the person and his entire family is isolated at home, productivity may be lower (ex: having to care for children)

What advice would you give anyone working from home for the first time and how to adapt?
Create a distinct "work space" that can be left behind once the work day is done (not the bed, not the couch). If this is not possible, once work is over, put away (out of side) all work implements so that home space becomes home again.

Does working from home affect your quality of life? (i.e. less travel time etc = more leisure time)
Less stress, more time for sure but also, less social interaction. It can also become a problem if work continues beyond defined work period (ex: constantly answering emails outside work schedule)

How does working from home affect your home life? (for example if you have children, partner etc)
I don't have children but if my spouse is at home when I am working we do not talk to each other during work time (aside from lunchtime).

Do you feel like a proper employee? i.e. you are at work when working from home?
The sense of belonging is definitely lessened the more an employee works from home. You feel more like a "Hired gun" or a "consultant" rather than an employee. The employer needs to compensate for that. Certain employees need more social interaction and will not thrive in a work from home environment.

When you work in an office and you leave you disconnect from work - literally. If you work at home how easy is it to dis-connect from work?
It is imperative to be able to leave the work area at home as well.

How do you stay motivated when working from home?
Objectives need to be defined as tasks that have defined deadlines ans be scheduled. Coordination meetings (either in person or virtual) need to have frequently. I see twice a week as a minimum. Daily touch points are ideal if the employee is usually remote.

How often does your company check in with you?

What would you say is the best part of working from home?
Given no transit, the speed at which one can transfer from work mode to home/family mode

How easy has it been to make the transition and what lessons did you learn along the way?
Yes, it's been easy but the lesson: there is an important social component of working on site and that needs to be compensated somehow.

What would you say is the worst part of working from home?
It's harder to access a coworker/boss when you need some help or you want to discuss/validate what you are doing.

Do you feel safer (e.g. don't travel, won't catch viruses from colleagues etc) working from home?
Of course

How do you control distractions at home - for example children, dogs etc.
The same as how I control distractions at work: Identify, then remove the distraction.

Do you prefer working from home? Yes/No? Explain why
I actually prefer a mixed home /office schedule (ex: 2 or 3 days at home, the rest at work)

How do you measure productivity of home based agents and also availability?
Output. Expectations need to defined as output, which is measurable at a distance. For Call center type of employment the ACD should be able to report of availability through statistical reports

How do you ensure security of information?
Define minimum parameters for home equipment

How do you ensure staff work to the same high standards when they are an office?
Measure output/production not attendance. Define requirements to reflect the actual business need and don't try to measure what you can't (ex: is he/she sitting at their desk or walking around when taking a call)

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How do you keep in touch with staff during the day?
Schedule "one on one" and group meetings. Prefer Skype to the phone, if possible.

Any other comments you would like to share about working from home - the good or the bad?
Be conscious that the the changed environment will have an impact and be prepared to adjust when the impact is negative as some of it will be negative.

About Mcgill University Health Centre:
Company LogoThe McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is an academic health centre. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of its founding hospitals, the MUHC provides multidisciplinary patient-centric care. Affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University, the MUHC continues to shape the course of adult and pediatric medicine by attracting clinical and research expertise from around the world, assessing the latest in medical technology, and training the next generation of medical professionals. In collaboration with our network partners, we are building a better future for our patients and their families; for our employees, professionals, researchers and students; for our community and above all, for life.
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Today's Tip of the Day - Look After Your Agents

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Published: Monday, May 4, 2020

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