A Day in the Life – Working Remotely During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Quarantine

Q&A with Vox Financial Partners Regulatory Change Analyst, Emmet O’Shaughnessy

What is your current assignment?

I am working on the ISDA US Resolution Stay Protocol for a large global bank. At a high level, the project involves ensuring clients are compliant for various new regulatory standards surrounding qualified financial contracts.  The bank has hundreds of thousands of different client accounts that need to adhere to this protocol. My specific deliverables and duties include completing data analysis and reconciliations for the project, using the client’s internal systems and several data analysis tools.

I started on this project in July 2019 in New York.  I spent three months on the project there before moving to the client’s London office.

Tell us about your first impact with COVID-19?

The first impact I experienced was via a roommate: he was on holiday in South Korea at the end of February. Everyone who had travelled to the early impact areas in Asia was told to stay home, and as I had contact with him, that included me. So, we started the work from home timeline a bit earlier than most people.

There were a few logistical issues to work through – and we couldn’t just pop into the office to sort them out – but we worked through those.

After our initial self-quarantine was over, I had a couple of weeks back in the office. Then, I went to Dublin for a short holiday, and while I was there the number of cases started to ramp up. I decided not to return to London; I went back to my family home in Cork where I am right now. I’ve been here for… I don’t know… the weeks are all blending together. I think it’s been four weeks, since March 23.

What’s the day to day like?

As time progressed it became more business as usual working from home as I became familiar with my new “office” surroundings. My IT setup is thankfully not too dissimilar from my regular set up in the office with everything but a second monitor and a fancy headset – but nothing I need to complain about in times of a pandemic. I’m lucky that I still have a desk in my room that has seen me through many school and college exams. Never did I think I would be working in a financial services role in my hometown, never mind from my own bedroom.

My work day is becoming normal now we’ve been doing this for so many weeks. Because the majority of my client interaction is with people in the US, my mornings are a bit quiet until about 1 pm.  My working day was difficult after moving back from the US. Although I wasn’t expected to work New York hours, with the responsibilities I had I ended up working much later hours than I normally would. So, there were more than a few late nights.

I normalized this back to UK working hours over time. Now that I’m set up at home, I can get the majority of my data analysis done before the US gets to work and then I can call into team meetings between 2pm and 6pm more easily.  I make sure I get as much done during UK working hours, so I can hand over to my US counterparts to continue while I’m asleep and they do the same.  It’s fairly efficient. 

So, for me, working from home, I see just as many people as I normally would.  There is a lot more screen sharing rather than video calls, but as I’m already used to working with people across various time zones and offices, working from home for me hasn’t been a hard adaption. In some ways, there’s a lot of benefits and fewer distractions than I normally face in the London office. In these unprecedented times it’s great to have the support of my family and being back in the house I grew up in while continuing in my role.

What’s the hardest part of the transition to working remotely?

It has not been that difficult now that I’m fully set up to work and all access has been approved for remote working.  I’d say the hardest part is not having normal day to day activities like going out and socializing with friends.  I also enjoyed going to the office every day which acted as a demarcation between working and social life.

Being strict on myself and working regular office hours has been more difficult for me with no commute or evening activities to prioritize over work. It’s harder to just log off and shut the computer down at the end of the day when you know it’s in arms reach. I find myself doing extra work after 6pm and working through lunch most days, mainly due to the convenience. I no longer get to eat my lunch and grab a coffee with work colleagues in the office which I miss.

Do you think remote working will become more prevalent post this pandemic?

I can’t help but think when this is all over things will be back to normal quicker than we expect. I don’t think our client will facilitate more remote working requests than what occurred before the outbreak. I’m all for a culture shift and allowing employees more flexibility when it comes to remote working, but I feel the financial services industry is still some way behind the likes of a start-up technology company. There are a lot more security, risk and compliance issues to iron out before that becomes the norm.

What has Vox done to provide support through all of this?

Vox have been great. They have been very supportive. The operations side and senior executives check in with us often. They set up a weekly forum to discuss any coronavirus-related topics, or to see if we are having any logistical issues. And if we have any personal needs, we are able to give them a call.

Have the demands from the client changed at all?

Our project is coming to an end, so the demands haven’t changed, except that our soft deadlines have been pushed back a little due to the disruption. As far as productivity goes we haven’t really seen a difference. We’re used to working with people across the US remotely anyway.

What things are you doing to manage the stress of the lock down?

I have turned to running and cycling to keep me sane in the evenings after work – something I normally would struggle to fit in on a daily basis. Not having the distraction of many live sporting events has definitely given me more spare time to concentrate on my own sporting efforts rather than sitting in front of the TV at the weekend. Hopefully after the restrictions are lifted, we can get a group of Vox employees to put our training to good use and run another half marathon to raise vital funds for a worthy charity to help people who are struggling in these challenging times.

I think given that so many people have lost their jobs and living through very tough circumstances, we are very lucky that we can work from home and continue doing our job. I’m making sure to not complain about the little things and appreciate that I am and my family are still in good health. We’re the lucky ones to say that the days are blurring into one and time is flying by, but I’m still hoping to gain a glimpse of the finish line so we all can return to normal.

Interested in learning more about Vox FP? Visit our website – www.voxfp.com.

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