Home. In the past several months it has become much more than a place of residence; it's become a well-worn haunt for 42% of the US workforce and countless numbers of students.

For Mitel, home has also become a place of innovation. And at this year's Innovation Day on October 29, themed "Innovate@Home: Collaboration for a Remote Workforce", Mitel staff around the world found out what the R&D team has been cooking up while working remote.

For Mitel chief innovator Richard Tworek, home cooking has become both the best and worst part of remote working. "(It's been) easy to grab a bite to snack on, bad for the waistline," he said.

Richard, who often worked remotely in the past, is now keeping company with the entire Mitel global workforce. Every employee has been home since March, continuing to blend both personal and professional. For Richard, it's been an easy transition. "Home has become the virtual extension of my office."

This is one Mitel software developer's work at home routine >

Mitel SVP of Product Development Al Hurren has found that the extended months of being exclusively remote have started to run together. Al has been successfully leading the large R&D organization from his home in Ottawa, Canada.

"Home has become the place where everything happens," he said. "If you have ever seen the movie Groundhog Day, to be honest it feels like that sometimes. I spend my day on video calls, visit with family over a late dinner, go to bed and repeat. I'm finding it harder to draw the lines between work and home."

Balancing work and home continues to be a challenge for many and has been the discussion of many recent Mitel Twitter chats with Mitel leaders, experts and partners. It's also been the motivation for several household innovations that make working with kids, pets and partners easier—and transforming the business culture to adapt to a new marketplace.

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Innovation Day has always been a celebration of what teams at Mitel are doing to set up businesses for future success, so it's fitting that this year's event focused on collaboration in remote environments. The new virtual format is its own innovation.

"I am going to miss the excitement of being in the lab with the entire team for the day running from room to room to take it all in, "said Al. "But the organizing team has done a fantastic job of figuring this out for our first virtual Innovation Day."

Richard agreed. "It will be easier for people to attend so I expect it'll be a higher than usual level of participation," he said.

The day featured presentations from Mitel innovators around the globe, all in front of a Shark Tank-style panel of judges. The top teams or individuals then had a chance to enhance their presentations before facing additional rounds of competition after Innovation Day, with only one emerging as the winner.

It's clear that working from home hasn't stopped or stalled Mitel innovation—or the event. In fact, there has been much happening behind the household doors, kitchens counters and back yards of the Mitel R&D team.

T.S. Elliot said that "home is where one starts from". For Mitel in this year of the pandemic, it seems that the home has been a launchpad for many new starts we're eager to see come to life.

Natasha McNulty

Content Strategist

Natasha is a content strategist who has enjoyed capturing in writing the Mitel story over the past 13 years. A widow and single mom, she lives in Ottawa, Canada, with her two daughters and a son who has complex health care needs.

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