Interview One: Michael Hrubes

The first interview I conducted was done with my Father, Michael Hrubes. He currently is a mortgage underwriter who, like many others, was forced to work from home. This interview was done to get a better insight into how Covid had affected a father who originally worked full time in office, and ended up working full time from home.

Christian: So I am here with my father to find out about how a father working full time in office transitioned to working full-time at home during the height of the pandemic. So dad, if you’re ready, um, how did the initial outbreak affect your life at home?

Dad :It affected my life at home is by the- by me being home more often than actually being at work. Um, I was able to actually do more things at home right after work, rather than, uh, having to spend time commuting back and forth.

C:Okay. Now, how did you feel when the lockdown first took place and you were unable to return to work?

D:I remember the day we walked out of the building stating and after the bosses had told us that we’ve got to start working from home and the parking lot was already half empty at that point because other companies in the building and started working from home. And I just- I remember saying it just feels really weird and very scary to have to work from home, not knowing what was going to happen, come that Monday, um, with the loans that we had to work with, or even the people that we had to work with, if anybody was going to get laid off or how bad this was going to get before we came to the end.

C:In what ways has your job changed? If it has changed in regards to communication at home compared to an office setting in which you only have to typically walk 10 feet to talk to your boss?

D:Well, that’s basically it in a nutshell, um, instead of walking 10 feet, I have to call, um, or I have to send an email to him or note him on a file for him to see on his end. Um, and the underwriters that I’m responsible for said the same thing, they said, you know, when talking on the phone, they said, it’s so much easier just to stand up or walk over to your desk to talk to you rather than try and get you on the phone or shoot an email. Um, so the timeliness of the information based on the interactions is what suffers a little bit, because you’re looking for an answer right here right now, and you don’t always get that.

D:You have to wait for the email to come back. You have to wait until the persons are available to talk on the phone.

C:Have there been any possibilities of returning to work in office? If so, would you take up this offer? Or do you feel more comfortable working from home?

D:I’ve been asked to come back to the office and I am interested in going back to the office. Um, every time I get to thinking about it real hard, it just makes me scared because I know that there, I’m going to encounter people that aren’t necessarily vaccinated or that are carrying this virus that don’t know it. And that’s what just makes me scared a little bit to go back to the office. I know I’m going to eventually have to go back no matter what. Um, but for right now, they’re not really forcing us, they’re just asking us repeatedly to come back, but they haven’t said anything forceful.

D:“We’ll say you have to come back by Monday or else.”

C:Granted that you were sent home from the office, did you have any fear of job security as well? As there were millions of people across the United States being laid off? And if so, how did this affect you mentally?

D:Well, in fact that it was mentally because it was a wake up call to realize that we really got to do our jobs and do it well. Um, we didn’t know if we were going to get laid off as well, but it turned into actually a refinance boom for us when the mortgage industry, because people had more time at home and more time to study the rates and the mortgage markets and things like that. And so instead of everything contracting for us, we actually got a lot busier, um, in the year that we’ve been locked down in the year, plus that I’ve been working from home.

C:Now, working from home, has your job become more easy or difficult to do? Do you prefer the office setting similarly when it comes to communication or you do feel better working from home regarding your line of work? And if so, why?

D:My job itself really hasn’t changed. I’m still doing the work. Um, the only thing I can say is I’ve gone through a lot of ink cartridges and I’ve gone through a lot of reams of paper is something that the company actually would’ve, uh, would’ve covered had it been in the office. Um, so to that end, you know, my job functions really didn’t change.

C:Going back to how the business essentially boomed, did you see that the pandemic benefited your line of work, or did it have a more negative impact on it?

D:It had a negative impact in the very beginning because we were waiting for the governments, uh, for the government and for the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to come out with guidelines, to guide us with people who are going into forbearance agreements, uh, we’re waiting for them to tell us what do we do with people that, and how to calculate the income on people that have been furloughed or people that have been laid off and are now back to work. Um, there was a lot of uncertainty in the very beginning and cooler heads.

D:Finally did prevail procedures were put in place, processes were determined and we were able to get down to business. And that’s when we really started to flourish. So, um, in a bright light, people were able to refinance because they took advantage of the lower rates, so that actually put more money into the people’s pockets. So that’s what really kept the economy going. I think even though it’s slowed down tremendously, um, I think the mortgage markets had a big impact in being able to help people get through this.

C:Thank you for your time!