As COVID-19 and its effects continue to develop, we have spoken to our colleagues around the world to discover what life has been like for our Hexagon team. This week we have learned how this unprecedented situation has impacted Manuela Fortunati, an HR manager based in Milan, Italy. She has recently also celebrated her 35-year anniversary at Hexagon!
Here is what the “new normal” is like for Manuela.
Since restrictions were put into place, have you been into your local office?
No, I haven’t yet. Prior to the restrictions being put into place, I was in the office prepping and getting organized for working from home (WFH). It has been just over 2 months since I have physically been into office.
Has your office already re-opened?
My local office in Milan re-opened on May 18. I have yet to visit, and when I do, I will have to adhere to social distancing and practices in place to keep myself and those around me safe.
Looking back to before the pandemic started and now, what do you feel has been the biggest change?
I feel that for me, the most significant change and struggle has been not having the freedom I was used to prior to the pandemic. I am someone who loves to explore and travel, so not being able to move freely within the city has been very strange for me, even though I understand the restrictions were for our safety and that of others.
As things are now slowly going back to normal, you can still feel the effects of the restrictions; it’s just not quite the same, and the mood in the city is very different.
What is life like in Milan?
Things are slowly moving forward and becoming closer to normal again, however, there are restrictions in place to ensure our own and others’ safety. Restaurants, cafes and pubs have reopened, but they do have constraints in place: tables have mandated distances, face masks must be worn when entering the restaurant or café, and staff must wear face masks at all times. Theaters and cinemas have not yet opened, but we now have some limited access to museums, which is great.
What has been your path to adaption to the “new normal”? Did you work from home before?
Before the pandemic, I didn’t work from home often, so WFH full time has been a change. Adapting to the new normal has required adjustment, as I didn’t have all the tools or the set up for working from home available straight away. The biggest difference for me is not having physical contact with my colleagues.
How has Hexagon adapted/supported you during this period?
It has been great to see how quickly we went “digital” as a company. Even with team members being far apart, I still feel connected and close to them with all our video calls that take place. Just a few clicks on Microsoft Teams, and then the team is back together again!
How has working from home affected your team? Have there been any key changes or benefits?
I haven’t found that the changes and distance between us has affected the team. We are close and already had regular video calls before the pandemic with those who weren’t in the office, so there hasn’t been a significant shift there.
I have realized that WFH didn’t necessarily fit well with all the team. As soon as the Italian government lifted the restrictions and enabled us to re-open the Milan office, I did everything I could to ensure it was ready and safe for the team to begin using it again.
To manage those going into the office, I implemented a booking system so a safe number of colleagues would be in at the same time. This is to avoid having too many working from the office at the same time and ensure a safe working environment.
Have you found that you can now do something better/improved a skill when compared to before the pandemic?
Now that more time has passed WFH, I have settled in and recognize it is similar to when I’m in the office. But I do prefer working in the office as I can then connect and speak with the team more easily.
On a positive side of WFH, I have discovered my green fingers and how satisfying it is to do gardening and watch the vegetables grow. Gardening is now something I am doing more, and it has been keeping me entertained when the sun is shining.
As you have been adapting to the “new normal,” what advice would you go back and give yourself at the beginning of lockdown?
Looking back, the advice I would give myself would be not to panic and to remember that the restrictions put in place are for your and other’s safety.
What are you looking forward to the most in Milan once the restrictions are lifted?
I can’t wait to see and connect with people again! I love to travel, too, learning about new and different cultures, exploring new places and how other cultures live. Last year I visited Madagascar, and this year I was planning a trip to South Africa, to Manyeleti Game Reserve for a safari, which has been put on hold. But it is still something great to look forward to.