Q&A: Opportunities and challenges for remote working during COVID-19

Lucia Saura Agile Delivery Manager at Global Payments details her firm's changing work styles since COVID-19

More than seven months have passed since the doors of Global Payments’ Dublin offices were temporarily closed due to the pandemic. The office doors may have shut, with remote working becoming the norm, but the lights were certainly left on. With a surge in online, digital, and safe commerce needs, not only in Dublin but on a global scale, there was a greater focus on the payments technology needed to fuel these demands.

We took the opportunity to sit down and speak to one of the Dublin office Scrum Masters, Lucia Saura, to discuss the changes that remote working has brought– as she juggled working across various European time zones, multiple projects, and staying connected to her family and friends in her Spanish home town.

Your job role is ‘based’ in Dublin, but what is your current remote working set-up?

Yes, before COVID-19, my desk was located in Global Payments’ Dublin office. Overlooking the River Liffey with plenty of coffee and lunch options for both me and my colleagues. Then the announcement came in March of 2020 which saw our office doors temporarily close, with only limited access to ensure operational continuity. Fast forward a couple of months and my set-up looks a lot different! I’m originally from Spain – and with lockdown measures coming into place in Ireland, I took the opportunity to relocate to my hometown.

A day in the life of Lucia, now versus 10-12 months ago – what are the biggest changes you’ve seen?

Life is very different from 10-12 months ago, and not just from a work perspective. The world and how we interact with each other on a personal and professional level have all changed. My daily cycling commute along the canal towards the office, the unscheduled catch-ups in the kitchen area where there was always someone else getting tea or coffee, the face-to-face meetings or just spur of the moment conversations with a colleague over a new project, the endless lunch options right on our doorstep, the lunchtime walks with a colleague to clear your head and get some fresh air – even the occasional social chats in the office elevator! 

These days, I start my day with catch-up video calls with the relevant members of the teams to make sure we are aligned. Now more than ever, staying aligned requires more effort and focus as we all work on balancing our professional and home responsibilities. Blocking off chunks of time in my calendar helps me to arrange my own work time so I can ensure I have dedicated the time required to execute the various projects that are either in development or ready to be deployed.

Did your remote working set-up impact any of your work deliverables?

The first week was a bit challenging to adjust to; the constant news developments and updates – it was a bit stressful. In terms of work, my team and I adapted well and relatively quickly to the change in our work set-up. We’re used to working in an agile way. Video calls and meetings with various team members in Ireland, the US, UK & Romania are all part of the job in delivering products with global roll-outs! We already had cloud-based emails, shared documents, communication channels to aid cross-collaboration across regions. The jump from office to a home office wasn’t as great as some non-digital companies if anything working from home has increased productivity – I now have even more projects going on simultaneously, than before being remote!

What other work changes have you seen?

The flexibility of being able to work from anywhere in the world is great but I do miss the face-to-face interactions with my colleagues a lot. The fun chats in the kitchen, the social events that would have been organised in the office on a regular basis, even just grabbing a drink after work on a Friday! All these things helped our office to stay connected with things other than work, to stay engaged. Teams and office social activities took a bit of time to adapt to the new normal. Like many other companies, I’m sure, we’ve added virtual quizzes, coffees, catch-ups, cooking classes, and even sporting competitions now to our calendars. Small initiatives to ensure we all stay connected and engaged during these times and to ensure we keep the culture of the Dublin office alive.

Currently, things may be uncertain but what would you like to see in your future work set-up?

This year has been very unpredictable. My temporary move to Spain, several months ago, ended up being extended with restricted travel and required isolation periods. Returning to Ireland at the moment would mean a very different Ireland from when I first moved there. I am hopeful though, that when I do return, I’ll be able to get back to what made me want to set up a life there; the concerts, cultural events, my rugby team, and of course the nights out with colleagues and friends – even if they do all have to be adapted for this new normal!

Global Payments are proud sponsors of the Women in IT Virtual Summit Ireland, taking place on 17 November 2020. You can view the summit agenda and register your free place here

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