Gisela Prunes is an HR and business professional from Barcelona with 10+ years of experience in multiple industries, Fortune 500 companies and startups. She moved to California in 2012 starting from scratch; learning a new language and re-building her career with no network, and she is currently working at one of the biggest studios in Hollywood: Disney.
She is also an advocate for other immigrants like herself in navigating the complex labor situation in a foreign country.
Covid-19 is changing the work landscape. What are some of the major changes you see within companies?
Many companies are transforming their businesses and approaching change holistically as the majority of changes do not only come from the way they work, but also from the way they keep their employees engaged and how they reach out to customers.
We can see remarkable operational changes coming from the food and beverage industry and from the partnerships created across multiple industries in ways we have never seen before, like the companies that used their infrastructure and talent to produce things they never did before.
Some industries and business models will face more challenges than others, for example those businesses that are people dependent and built upon the human interaction experience.
Overall, transformation and reinvention will be the key not only for all businesses but also for each of us, at an individual level.
Do you think working remotely is going to be the new norm after this?
I definitely think that working remotely will have more weight than ever before, both from the employee and employer perspective. Certainly, many roles will stay remote after this but we will have to see how they have transformed and how people feel about it.
Creating a quality experience for remote work needs to be well thought out, as it will come with an additional set of challenges. The companies now have a great opportunity to design those experiences.
Folks working in companies that already offer flexible arrangements, a great culture and employee experience may also enjoy the option of going back to an office. Self-employed folks may be looking forward to go back to shared work spaces. Others may not want to go back to an office setting, and if their companies are not able to offer flexible arrangements, they may look elsewhere.
This may put more pressure on companies and HR departments to consider a new approach based on how we can be more flexible and how we can merge what the business needs and what matters to people.
Overall, from an individual perspective, this is a chance to open ourselves to new possibilities that were never considered before.
Thinking even further, about a future without Covid and for those roles that became remote, if we could work from home why couldn’t we work from a coffee terrace in Paris? Does “work from home” necessarily mean “in the house?”
What we understand today as “ the corporate way” could be changing. Who knows if we will be adapting more components from a nomad business model. I think Gen Z would definitely appreciate it.
Can you explain the difference between furlough and being laid off?
Yes, furlough is a word that’s still unfamiliar for many and it is very different than a lay off.
A lay off is a permanent termination of employment, while a furlough is an unpaid leave of absence, that means that you are still an employee of the company but you won’t receive a paycheck.
The conditions of the furlough may differ case by case, but generally speaking most companies sustain medical benefits for furloughed employees.
For those affected by unemployment, what can they do in the meantime?
First of all, even if it sounds like a cliché, I would recommend self-care.
This should be the first priority for everyone, as we are going through unprecedented times that feed stress and anxiety on many different levels.
Once you feel some sort of inner balance to cope with this situation, you can take a step further and start thinking and designing how you want to reinvent yourself; otherwise, if you are juggling a lot at this time, it can induce even more anxiety.
I would recommend asking yourself questions – sometimes, we cannot find the right answers because we are asking ourselves the wrong questions.
Like Einstein pointed out: “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask…for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than 5 minutes”
How do you want your life to look like after the pandemic? What are the things you want to do more of and less of? What is really important to you? What do you need to get closer to what’s important to you? Do you enjoy what you do…but you’d like to do it differently? What are you missing? What skills do you think may be relevant to develop?
Grab a pen and paper and start writing them down. Turn your thoughts into ideas, and ideas into goals, and then put a plan and small actionable items together to get closer to them.
This will be a good kickoff as you start looking for new opportunities, or a renewed YOU. A lot of times the biggest change comes from within.
The ultimate goal is to enjoy your path, and this exercise may help you stay close to what matters to you.
Who can file for unemployment?
Those folks who have been laid off, furloughed or had their hours reduced may qualify for regular unemployment.
Gig workers, independent contractors and self-employed people who regularly would not qualify for regular unemployment will now qualify for unemployment under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program (PUA).
I recommend visiting the EDD website and read all the information needed to file an unemployment claim before doing so. Preparation is key for a smooth submission.
Any other tips?
There are still so many things that we do not know and everyone is trying to figure out, including the Department of Labor; but, regardless of what the job market looks like a few months from now, we know that being kind, thoughtful, resourceful and open minded will matter more than ever. It is up to us to decide how much we want to develop and adapt.