Where Work is Done Has Changed: Donna LoDuca, VP of Human Resources, sits down with Dukal employees to reflect on the “office” after pandemic


Where Work is Done Has Changed

Donna LoDuca, VP of Human Resources, sits down with Dukal employees to reflect on the “office” after pandemic


I'm not sure how you feel about the last twenty months - but for Dukal and its employees, they brought changes to the workplace that were as unprecedented as COVID-19. I have been working in corporate settings since the late 1970s, and other than trying to get my first post-college job, these last 20 months have been the most challenging and transformative times of my career.


Since 1977 I have:

• Been exposed to gender bias in the workplace (where men went into the management training program and women went to the secretarial pool)

• Witnessed the advent of computers, emails, fax, ATMs, texts, and direct deposit

• Added two children to my family while working full-time in an office setting (one with and one without FMLA protection)

• Saw my pension disappear and my 401K dominate

• Suffered through the Affordable Care Act


These events pale in comparison to seeing our whole world crumble around a disease that has affected 254 million people and has taken 5.1 million lives (as of November 15). Like many, in response to the growing pandemic, we closed our physical office in March 2020. With swift and robust IT initiatives, we stayed connected as we stayed home – and learned to embrace the new pace and technologies of work.


On July 8, 2020, we reopened our office with a new perspective and a new flexible and hybrid workspace to meet our employee’s needs.


For this article, I had conversations with four Dukal employees, asking them a series of questions and determining how the pandemic affected their work and family lives. The questions asked were the same, but the conversations' direction was vastly different, making the experience genuinely enlightening.


Initially, I selected employees based on their work locations. For example, an employee who was in the office five days per week before the office closed (Full Time Office or FTO) who now works two days in the office (H2), an employee who worked remote (R) before March 16, 2020 and is still remote (R) today. My conver-sations aimed to understand how these employees felt about the workplace changes experienced during the pandemic and to assess how we move forward successfully as a company.


Kevin Willette, QA/RA Complaint Specialist

First, Kevin is a new dad to baby girl Addison, born in 2021, so that took up a bit of time going over the pros and cons of his new assignment. He has worked for Dukal in the Ronkonkoma office since May 2019 as our QA/RA Complaint Specialist, and gladly he had no complaints during our talk. All went smoothly for him when Dukal started to work remotely last March. His home office, originally built by his father-in-law to be a man cave “gaming room,” is now a comfortable remote workspace. Kevin believes that his military background helped him adjust quickly to working from home and feels equally productive at both sites. While the home is more relaxed, he still misses the office structure and may add another day in the office at one point. One of the

most challenging parts of working at home is learning to separate your workday from your home day - a common theme from many employees.

Dianne Tuzzolino, Manager, Sales Support and Contract Administration

Dianne joined Dukal in June of 2007. Currently the Manager of Contract Administration, I can safely say she is the heart and soul of our Sales Department. Dianne manages two employees, one fully remote and one hybrid. Last March, when Dianne went home to work, she was both grateful and lost. Grateful for maintaining contact with her family and was a bit lost in the early days of the transition. With limited space, she set up a table and chair in her living room and still works there. The "need to redecorate" is a current goal for her. But in addition to changing décor, we talked about how it took about two weeks to get her "work mojo" back. Dianne has a work rhythm she needs to maintain, enabling her to finish what she needs to do every day. While we all agree that Microsoft Teams allowed Dukal to succeed during the pandemic, she laments that "Everything doesn't need to be a Teams meeting."

Jean Swanson, VP of Health and Beauty (R)

Dukal’s remote sales team had different challenges during COVID-19. Jean has led the Health and Beauty Division since 2009 from her home in Wilmington, North Carolina. In March of 2020, Jean clearly remembers flying home from an almost empty airport in Philadelphia, afraid of the coronavirus and what the pandemic was doing to her industry. If you remember, all health and beauty facilities had to shut down at the height of the pandemic last April and May, with many of her distributors, customers, and even sales groups closing permanently. In the first days of the shutdown, Jean felt very anxious about her job and how she would sell to an industry that was “out of business.” But like most of our salesforce, she got on the phone, improvised, and found alternate ways to make her budget. If the customer didn’t go to the salon for services, they would have to get beautiful “at home.” Online distributors became customers and the key to success in 2020. Last year, burnout was a real issue for Jean, a self-declared workaholic, but failure was never an option.


Jeff Weir, Product Category Manager

Jeff came home in March 2020 to a very full house, including a working wife, a 14-year-old daughter, and a 10-year-old son. As a Product Category Manager for the past seven years, he was concerned when Dukal went remote. Luckily his house was large enough for everyone to have their own space and their own computer. Jeff is a coffee lover and structures his day around his regimented need for a "cup of joe" at 9 am, 11 am, 2 pm, and 4 pm. Getting out of his chair regularly, checking on the children at their remote school, and just stretching his legs kept his energy level and productivity high at home. With the children back in school this year and his wife back at the office, the days he spends at home are quiet and without distractions. Jeff feels balanced at home and loves the flexibility afforded by his hybrid work schedule. While not an expert on Microsoft Teams initially, he agrees that technology was the key to Dukal's success these past 18 months.

>  Find more inside Dukal’s latest edition of Touchpoint

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