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Coronavirus: happiness is in telework … for now

“No need to spend half an hour in a crowded bus and I can cook at home,” enthuses Polina Berenstein, one of the tens of thousands of “tech” employees who swapped the “open space” for a table corner with them. Without regrets.

Like Google, Apple, Facebook and the majority of the digital sector, its IT company recommends its employees to telecommute, to fight against the spread of the new coronavirus.

At Twitter, it has even become an obligation for the nearly 5,000 social network employees around the world. “This is an unprecedented decision, but we are also living in unprecedented times,” said vice president Jennifer Christie in an online statement on Wednesday.

Even without being forced to, Polina jumped at the chance.

Admittedly, he misses his colleagues’ dogs – in San Francisco many companies allow pets – and it is not always easy to code on the screen of his laptop.

Not to mention the distractions in her big house, which she shares with nine other people, most of them also teleworking because of the pandemic.

“We don’t have so much common space so I’m going to work at the cafe, where it’s easier to concentrate. I just hope it’s not going to be banned …”, said the 27-year-old computer engineer years.

She would adopt this lifestyle well in the long term: “We would go to the office one or two days a week. And the rest of the time we would work from home!”

Exactly under the sun

In the business district of San Francisco, many buildings have been deserted. The rare visitors are greeted by bottles of self-service hydro-alcoholic solution, like at the hospital. The “touch of the elbow”, to greet each other, is reserved for close friends.

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At Google at lunchtime on Thursday, only one picnic table had found takers, an employee who takes advantage of the situation: “There is no queue to eat!”, He rejoices.

The whole colorful campus looked like a ghost town, except for four intrepid employees, gathered for a game of volleyball in the sun.

In the Facebook parking lot, the company’s shuttles, which notably connect San Francisco to the headquarters in Silicon Valley, arrived and left empty.

In Oakland, Martha Lackritz-Peltier, a lawyer at TechSoup, can now work from her bed to start the day, then from her garden, under the manger where hummingbirds come to peck, or spread out her files in the dining room, when the light becomes too blinding.

“Frankly, I was relieved when the news came, because I had a lot of trips planned for March,” she said, preparing a tea. “I feel more productive, I’m catching up on late files,” she adds.

But she worries about communication. “Even if the video conferences are of very good quality, in negotiations it makes a huge difference to be able to read the face of the person opposite.”


Technology, cloud and network specialists are well placed to organize remote work, unlike more traditional sectors or in-person services. But the pitfalls remain numerous.

Telework blurs the lines between work and private life, and it will get worse as schools close and the whole family is trapped at home.

The Tollners have taken the lead. David runs his legal firm from the guest room, where his wife quarantined him when he returned from a conference in Baltimore with a dry cough.

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She texts him to warn him that his breakfast is waiting for him behind the door. “I’m in my dungeon waiting for my ration,” he laughs.

“It’s probably just a cold, but it terrorized him, and so much the better – he’s not as alarmist as his wife,” says Mitra Ahani, wife, improvised babysitter and director of a special education center. , which it now manages remotely.

Confined or not, the teams use collaborative tools (like Slack) to move forward on their projects. Virtual meetings get the day started and internal messaging acts as a coffee machine.

“This requires managers to change posture, to look at the result instead of monitoring all the time,” said David Bchiri, director of the consulting company Fabernovel in the United States.

But beware of isolation, according to a spokesperson for Slack. “It is the biggest threat to employee engagement and motivation, and it can happen slowly, silently.”

03/15/2020 07:44:32 –
San Francisco (AFP) –
© 2020 AFP

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