Receivable/Accounts - Information for Credit and Collection Issues

Friday, November 26, 2021

Working From Home and Company Culture


Last night we had the first Credit Institute of Canada dinner meeting to celebrate a graduating student, and some of the attendees saw each other for the first time in person in nearly two years.  One of the discussions that came up as we caught up in person was talking about our various work places and the wide variety of work from home policies we each had.
I feel pretty passionately about two things – first, work from home is here to stay.  It’s proven it can work, 90% of our team continue to work remotely at some degree or other, and I feel it’s kinder and fairer to our company team members and keeps a work/life balance.  While we aren’t in a downtown work environment and most people have a 10-30 minute drive, folks who work in Toronto often have to suffer a 1.5+ hour drive into work, that’s insane.  And what about if you need your water heater replaced at home, or the buses aren’t running for your kids that day? 
Now that being said, I don’t think 100% work from home for everyone all the time is sustainable – not because of the ability to get work done, but because over the pandemic, I’ve seen a few things fray a bit.
The Ease of In Person Teamwork
First, it’s more efficient to turn your chair around or pop into someone’s office to ask a complex question that have an email chain of messages back and forth, or a quick huddle to figure out a solution to a problem than organize a Zoom call, get everyone online, make sure folks aren’t muted, etc.  Is it worth making everyone drive in every day?  No, but the ease of teamwork in person can’t be forgotten.
Keyboards Aren’t Intuitive
At our company, I can see a very slow erosion of culture.  We’re fine, but we might not be 1-2 years from now.  People start drifting off of work processes and habits, and there’s no osmosis to keep company skills flowing from more experienced people to others.  A typed email lacks the empathy an in person meeting might have with facial and body language cues.  A Zoom conversation isn’t the same as an in person one, even though you can see each other’s faces.
Our New Normal
Before the pandemic, many provinces and states wouldn’t dream of having collection staff work remotely – but, the world has changed.  Pretty much all are open to remote work, even after the pandemic ends.  There hasn’t been a spike in consumer complaints, or privacy issues, so all seems well compliance wise for folks being able to continue to work from home.
So how are we going to handle things now, and in the foreseeable future when Covid is in the rearview mirror?  We’re asking our team members who are settled in to the company, trained, and doing well to come in 4 days a month.  We don’t care which 4 days, they get to pick.  If they have a role that requires more hands on work, like IT or payment processing, then it’s 10 days.  New folks will start in the office full time, but as they get their feet under them, they can move to working from home.
We started our ‘new normal’ at the beginning of November, and I’m already seeing a difference – while our office is by no means full, the people are coming in here and there, and seeing each other face to face.  I’m overhearing joking, venting, sharing experiences, or even talking about their kids or what they did this past weekend – things that have been missing for the last 18 months.  I take that as a good sign.
Some folks want to come in every day, and that’s totally fine – I’m one of them.  I feel I get more done in the office than working remotely.  But I don’t think our company will ever live in a world where we make everyone come in to the office every day, ever again.
What’s your experience with your company and working from home?  Always interested to hear what other folks are doing, in the credit space or otherwise.  Drop me an email or give me a shout.
Thanks kindly,
Blair DeMarco-Wettlaufer
KINGSTON Data & Credit
Brantford, Ontario

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