The Post-COVID19 Workforce – What Should it Look Like? - Part 2 – The Inverse with Special Guest Diana Moldovan

October 26, 2020

Chris Ruggieri

       September 3, 2020, I wrote an article about how I believed the Post-COVID era workforce should look like.  During the course of sharing it out and discussing different opinions and views on the matter, I came across a LinkedIN post from Mrs. Diana Moldovan, that made a lot of sense and she was kind enough to suggest and agree to collaborate on the “Inverse Discussion” of the whole work from home vs return to the office scenarios.  You can find her post here.  Before we get into all of the details, I would first like to thank Diana for graciously accepting my request to collaborate and for providing a different perspective.


       To start, let’s go over the three points that Diana brings up and then we’ll get to a Q&A style format.


  1. Not everyone can afford the luxury to live in a house where they have an extra room transformed in an office.  Think about the people who live in a tiny room in a shared house. I know many people who sleep, eat and work in the same room.


    Some of this I had considered, but shared living spaces and studio style flats/apartments were not.  My initial

    thought was families (in particular those with school age children) could share space at the dining room table and

    it would allow the parent to keep an eye on their child to make sure that they are actually doing their schoolwork. 

    That argument is obviously very one-sided on my part.  Full disclosure: While my wife and I tried and wanted children,

    alas, it was not in the cards.  Yet, families was my first go-to thought on it.  I completely left out those with

    roommates, working and going to school while living in flats/apartments on or near campus, studio style

    flats/apartments, etc.  Could those people work remotely and maintain the efficiency?  That’s a question I don’t

    believe any of us can answer.  I know that video chat would be 100% a non-starter for people in those situations.  So,

    I guess my reply would have to be: Can it be done?  Possibly. Is it the ideal or preference? Absolutely not. 


  1. There are people who really miss the human interaction, having a drink after work, socialising or attending events after work. Many people’s mental health has been affected in the past months due to the lack of human interaction.


    This one hit home with many, many people and I can’t believe I missed it.  You see, I am my own walking paradox.  I am

    an extroverted, introvert.  I can strike up a conversation with just about anyone but prefer to be alone.  Not

    everyone, if fact most people, need that human to human contact.  The one part of this one that hurt me the most,

    personally, is the fact that I, like much of the world, glossed right over the mental health ramifications of the

    isolation COVID-19 has lead to.  This hit even harder when on September 21, 2020, I came across this post on Facebook


       “I had spent an hour in the bank with my dad, as he had to transfer some money. I couldn't resist myself & asked...

       "Dad, why don’t we activate your internet banking?"

       "Why would I do that?" He asked...

       "Well, then you won't have to spend an hour here for things like transfer.  You can even do your shopping online.

       Everything will be so easy!"

       I was so excited about initiating him into the world of Net banking.

       He asked "If I do that, I won't have to step out of the house?"

       "Yes, yes"! I said. I told him how even grocery can be delivered at door now and how amazon delivers everything!

       His answer left me tongue-tied.

       He said "Since I entered this bank today, I have met four of my friends, I have chatted a while with the staff who

       know me very well by now. 

       You know I am alone...this is the company that I need. I like to get ready and come to the bank. I have enough

       time, it is the physical touch that I crave.

       Two years back I got sick, The store owner from whom I buy fruits, came to see me and sat by my bedside and cried.

       When your Mom fell down few days back while on her morning walk. Our local grocer saw her and immediately got his

       car to rush her home as he knows where I live.

       Would I have that 'human' touch if everything became online?

       Why would I want everything delivered to me and force me to interact with just my computer?

       I like to know the person that I'm dealing with and not just the 'seller'. It creates bonds of Relationships.

       Does Amazon deliver all this as well?"

       Technology isn't life..

       Spend time with people .. Not with devices.

       Writer: Unknown”


    Between Diana’s comment and this Facebook post, I realized that not everyone can mentally handle the type of isolation

    a 100% remote workforce would entail.  The part that I can honestly say that I am ashamed of, is the fact that I

    completely glossed over mental health.  I am US based and, sadly, much of the US, and I’m sure other parts of the

    World too, just gloss over mental health like it is the issue that “will go away if we ignore it.”  The main reason I

    am ashamed that I missed it is because I am a huge supporter of the work Mission 22 and similar programs are doing. 

    The purpose of Mission 22, and other programs like it, are to provide assistance for Military Veterans who are

    suffering from mental health issues since their return and to stop the 22 veterans that commit suicide every day. 

    Yet, here I am, doing what everyone else has done about mental health and completely forgotten to include it.  We, as

    in the entire World, need to do better about addressing mental health.


  1. Take a moment and think about the people who CANNOT work from home: the bartender from the pub next to your office, the cleaners from your office building, the people who are serving you in the canteen, the security guards, receptionists, etc. Without us having an office, they won’t have a job.


    This one I did address in the original article, but not to the extent that Diana did.  A 100% remote work force is

    completely impossible in certain verticals.  The one’s I used were Logistics, Healthcare, and Grocery, but Food

    Service is definitely one that would be in the same boat.  Food Service jobs, many of which are underpaid to start

    with, would be hit even harder, but I believe there would be a clientele shift from those that work in the area to

    those that live in the area.  It wouldn’t be enough though.  Their jobs just got a whole lot harder to make ends meet.


       One thing Diana and I both agree on is that we (the workforce of the World) should not be forced to do anything, whether it be forced back into the office or forced to be 100% remote.  What we both are advocating for is choice.  That organizations provide the flexibility and choice to be fully remote to fully on-site and everything in between.  That choice argument can obviously be extended to other arguments (<cough> forced COVID vaccines <cough>), but we’ll leave that for other conversations and stick with the workforce argument for now. 


Now that we’ve gotten those replied to, let’s kick the conversational side off with the Q&A. 


CR (NP): Diana, you mentioned that you had more than those three as opposing views to a 100% remote workforce.  What  

    others would you like to add?  I would like to include those, my replies, and your replies to my replies. (Did that  

    sentence even make sense?  The Grammar scholars at Oxford are likely rolling over in their graves about me at this



DM: Absolutely, I consider there are more things that are worth mentioning:

  1. Some people work too much -     It happened to me too, and yes you can blame me that I am not the most well-organized person. I had days when it was 3 PM and I still didn’t have my lunch, as I was in back to backs from 9AM. Add to this the long hours of sitting on a chair without breaks. Some people find it difficult to have a clear way of defining “When does the work start” and “When does the day end”.  Of course, there are solutions and I personally started to implement some, but there are many people still struggling with this.


  1. Interruptions - I really admire the parents who have toddlers and multiple children and I consider them superheroes, especially these days. I know there are interruptions in the office too, however those are different. It is especially challenging for the people who have very young kids, who cannot understand that just because mommy or daddy are home, it doesn’t mean they can play, or you can enter in their room every 10 minutes.


  1. Communication issues, from the broadband hiccups to misunderstandings that could have been resolved in seconds if the people were face to face.


  1. Missed opportunities for collaboration – even though the current technologies allow employees to stay connected to the office and to each other, it is not the same as having a team working together in the same room. I think long term, the 100% remote work can impact the team dynamics.


  1. Building trust relationships. I am thinking a lot at the new joiners, especially the grads or junior people. When I started working in the cybersecurity industry, I learnt a lot by watching my colleagues or working alongside them.  I am a people person, and I like the human interaction, not just via Teams, Skype or Zoom – but face to face. People say: but you have your life outside of work. I do, however I met many of the friends I have at some of the previous jobs, and we got closer due to the interaction in the office.


CR (NP): One of the things from the first article is the effect of fewer cars being on the roadways and could help reduce 

    the carbon footprints, but would also have the side effect of few cars being made in the long run, if more people

    choose the more remote option.  The question on this one is many-fold. 


       A) Do you see the environmental benefits outweighing the adverse effects to the automotive and oil industries?

       B) Road rage is a serious trigger for some people.  Do you think not being on the road having to deal with that 

          road rage would push more people to the more remote option?

       C) Do you foresee “don’t wear fur” style attacks (like seen in NY where paint and other liquids were poured onto

          people’s fur coats) against the people that choose the more on-site options?  I’m asking this one because the

          US, especially, has hit a level of hysterical madness that I’ve never even contemplated in my nearly 40 years on

          this Earth.


DM:  I completely agree that there would be important reduction in the carbon footprints if people work from home. I

     personally don’t have a car, as I don’t consider I need it. I live in London and I use public transport.


     Multiple people love working from home because they don’t waste 2-3 hours a day commuting, and I get it. I know very

     few people from the UK who drive to work, most of them are using the public transport – and the public transport will

     continue to work as there are many people who cannot work from home.  It’s interesting the parallel with “don’t wear

     fur”. I think people will make the difference that choosing to work from the office (even if this can have an impact

     on pollution) is due to different reasoning (from health, to office space, to the need of human interaction, etc).  I

     think people need to learn to be a bit more empathic and don’t see everything in binary, especially when you are not

     in the other persons’ shoes and you don’t know their circumstances.  


CR (NP): We both agree that the REAL issue at hand for the Post-COVID19 Workforce is choice.  The problem creating the

    issue are the individual organizations.  Like the screenshot from the one CEO that was on your post (below), he is

    advocating 100% remote.  There are other organizations that are 100% against ANY remote option (the traditional “must 

    have butts in seats” mentality).  Finally, there are organizations like the one I work for that are adopting a hybrid 

    model where we are in the office every other week and remote the other weeks.  How can we, as thought and industry

    leaders, get organizations to, for lack of a better phrase, meet in the middle to offer employees that choice and the

    percentage that choice would offer?  For example, you mentioned that you would happily go into the office 2-3 days a 

    week.  Our Compliance and Privacy Analyst declined the 50/50 option and is 100% on site.  How can we get organizations

    to move towards having that choice?

DM: I think the past 6 months proved that working from home is possible and it can be done successfully. I was shocked to

    read that a CEO from a London company stated that he installed some spy software on his employees’ laptops to take

    screenshots and videos of them while they work. This is such an unhealthy mentality and it just proves some trust

    issues. I personally would never work for such a company. However, unfortunately some people don’t have a choice and

    the business owners take advantage.


    Happy employees=successful business. The leadership team should talk to the people, listen to them and find solutions

    to accommodate as many categories as possible. There will be employees who want and can work 100% of the time from

    home, there are people who want to work 100% from the office and there are others who want a mix.


    I had weeks when I loved working from home, I had times when I absolutely hated it and felt lonely. We all have  

    different circumstances that can change. The leaders must find solutions to create a mixed working environment that

    facilitates the “ups” and support and mitigate the “downs” of their workforce.


CR (NP):  In regards to the infinite talent pool from my first article, would you predict a more world-wide average

    salary for a position or would the salary still be more regional?  What I mean by that is best described by an 

    example that happened to me recently.  I was contacted by a recruiter on a position that was 100% remote and the

    salary was dead in middle of average for the company’s location in Sacramento, California.  I live in rural Alabama. 

    The salaries were not even in the same ballpark.  The Sacramento deal was hard to turn down (it was contract work and

    I’ve reached the point in my career where the uncertainty principle that comes with short-term contract work just

    doesn’t appeal to me any longer), but conversely, there’s no way rural Alabama can offer a comparable salary with

    Sacramento’s cost of living.  If the industries move towards the choice option, do you see those salaries eventually

    getting more equalized worldwide to accommodate for that? 


DM: I think there will be a more world-wide average salary. However, I can see some people from the big cities worrying

    about this already. To give you an example, the salaries in London are probably 15-20k more than in other locations

    from the UK, however this is justified by the cost of living.


    The talent pool will become bigger if the employers will consider hiring people from more remote locations, and it

    will be in their advantage as they can offer a lower salary for the same work. How this will impact however the

    people from the big cities, is difficult to predict. Probably many will choose to move out or hopefully the property

    price and transport cost will decrease.


    I like the idea of “work from anywhere”, but again, I am not sure what this will really look like in practice. I

    would love the idea of working for 3 months from the UK, then 1 month from Spain, one month from Greece, etc. It

    might be the future.


CR (NP):  Diana, I want to thank you again for agreeing to do this.  This has helped me tremendously and forced me to 

    remove a lot of my selection bias from the argument.  Your added viewpoint made me look at this from an entirely new

    angle and hopefully will get others to do the same. 



To our readers, keep an eye out for Part 3 of this topic!  I think everyone will be surprised and intrigued!