The New Normal? A focus on flexibility: an Interview with Nadia Carotenuto, HR Director at Bluestone Resources
Nadia is an experienced Human Resources leader with a demonstrated history of working in the mining & metals industry. She is skilled in Talent Acquisition, Total Rewards, Workforce Development, HR Policies, and Organizational Design, with a Commerce degree focused on Industrial Relations Management from The University of British Columbia.
1 - Maira Rosso: How was the preparation at Bluestone for the lockdown of the offices and operations and what were the main measures taken?
Nadia Carotenuto: Bluestone’s head office is very lean, and all employees are set-up with laptops. Therefore, we were all able to seamlessly transition to work-from-home as soon as the lockdown notice was communicated in mid-March. As a single-asset company in the pre-construction stage, we are currently focused on basic engineering and optimization of our Cerro Blanco project in Guatemala. Much of the fieldwork was completed before the lockdown.
At the site, activity has been largely focused on drilling, dewatering, and water treatment. Like Canada, the Guatemalan government was also quick to address the pandemic and when lockdown occurred in late March, a very small skeleton crew was maintained for dewatering activity only, while the rest of the workforce worked from home, if their roles allowed, or stayed at home with pay.
2 - Maira Rosso: As the person responsible for HR, what were your main concerns about the employee’s wellbeing?
Nadia Carotenuto: The health and safety of our people is the top priority for everyone at Bluestone, not just HR. When the COVID-19 crisis was upon us, we wanted to ensure that our employees were self-isolating and able to continue their work from home while still staying connected with the rest of the organization. People’s mental wellness is just as important as their physical wellness and maintaining some level of interaction, albeit remotely, was top of mind. We provided more training on Microsoft Teams and have conducted daily meetings throughout the lockdown.
3 - Maira Rosso: Our previous Newsletter was about Women in mining and how companies are putting efforts to increase the number of women working for the mining industry. Has Bluestone taken any specific measure to support the working moms that, in many cases, are overwhelmed with work, family, and housework?
Nadia Carotenuto: In accordance with our values, Bluestone has always supported its employees in maintaining a balance between work and home life by allowing for a great deal of flexibility. Working from home and flexible start/end time practices have been in place long before the COVID-19 crisis and therefore, transitioning to a work from home structure went very smoothly. Of course, if someone wanted to send me a robot to do all my housework, I would not protest!
4 - Maira Rosso: Could you talk a little bit about your personal experience with the home office?
Nadia Carotenuto: Well, I had a bit of an advantage, as before joining Bluestone, I had worked as a contractor for many years. Therefore, I am quite used to working remotely. However, this situation was different in that my spouse and two children were also working/learning from home and that meant some planning and structure had to be implemented to ensure everyone had their own space. Once we established this, I can say that everyone has enjoyed being at home during these uncertain times, although we are all looking forward to getting back to some level of normalcy.
5 - Maira Rosso: How was your experience having to manage your workload during the quarantine, plus employees’ challenges and kids at home with homeschooling?
Nadia Carotenuto: Positive for the most part, as both my husband and I have taken an equal role in our children’s homeschooling. I think the fact that my kids are older (not yet teenagers, who ache to break free, and not young children that require constant supervision) has meant that they have been able to take a lot of ownership of their online learning and free time. We have done our best to maintain a daily routine that mimics the ‘school’ day and that has been very helpful. We have also ensured that they are able to get outside for daily walks and play in the back yard to get much needed fresh air and physical activity in a safe environment. Their school has also done a fantastic job of shifting to an online learning model and they are able to connect with their school friends and teachers during daily Zoom meetings.
6 - Maira Rosso: What kind of feedback did you get from your employees about the home office? What about the employees with kids?
Nadia Carotenuto: The main feedback I get from our employees and from other people that have worked in a traditional corporate office environment – you can work from home and still be productive... very productive in fact! Bluestone completed an equity raise and conducted their AGM while working from home. Depending on the age of kids, though, it can be quite challenging to work from home without another adult present to provide relief and support.
7 - Maira Rosso: How do you see the productivity of employees working 100% home office?
Nadia Carotenuto: You know, I really believe that our productivity has not suffered one bit during this lockdown. That being said, my vision for the future is not working from home 100%, but allowing for greater flexibility in work arrangements because I feel it will not only benefit employees and the company but also society and the environment as a whole.
8 - Maira Rosso: Is Bluestone ready for employees to come back to the office? After the pandemic experience, is Bluestone planning to keep a partial home office for employees or a flexible work schedule?
Nadia Carotenuto: Yes, but from the corporate office perspective, we are in no rush to return to the office. Yes, as this had been the case before the pandemic.
9 - Maira Rosso: What tips and suggestions can you give for working moms during the pandemic time?
Nadia Carotenuto: Know you are doing the best job you can during these challenging times. Try to enjoy the increased family time this lockdown has presented and to be grateful for the slower pace (I know I do not terribly miss the constant chauffeuring from one activity to another!). Take comfort that everyone around the world is in the same boat and we are all trying to navigate through this unchartered territory.
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Globe 24-7 (Globe) has been conducting human resources consulting and search assignments for local and international mining, power and energy companies around the world for over a decade. Globe has offices in the major markets of the world to ensure consulting assignments and search campaigns are effectively managed at both site and corporate locations and has grown internationally to now service small, mid-tier and large-scale companies through its project recruitment, search, HR consulting and HR Systems divisions.