I am grateful that I still have a job. With the huge number of industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s heartbreaking to hear about massive lay-offs, retrenchments, or redundancies. I am thankful that our company keeps afloat amid the global economic crisis.
Currently, I am working as an analyst in a financial data and software company. We provide support to production teams and respond to client inquiries and requests. Our company allowed its employees to work from home while it’s not yet safe to work in confined spaces. It’s a good thing that since I got hired, I was already issued with a laptop that the transition became easy.
After six months of working from home, I’ve collected my own share of experiences of this new work set-up to enumerate the advantages and the downsides. This article aims to highlight both perspectives based on personal experience and is never intended to make assumptions or generalizations about working from home.
Here are the positive things about working from home:
I never imagined working from home. But when I think of it before, this is the number one item that I’ve always wanted. People say that my home is near the office, but that does not exempt me from the hassle of commuting especially that my place is within the central district of commercial and business ventures. Working from home spared me from the hassle of getting stuck in traffic, queueing for a cab, or being harassed by disrespectful drivers.
Staying at home most of the time allowed me to spend more time with the family. Before, I just wake up to eat then prepare for work, go home late at night, then rest. I only get to spend quality time with them during weekends. Since I started working from home, the time spent in traveling was replaced with longer mealtimes and conversations.
Living a low-key lifestyle was something I never thought I’d enjoy. There is no pressure in dressing up nicely, getting a fabulous make-up, or waking up early to choose your wardrobe. I love working without wearing a bra. I can function at work by just wearing my comfy oversized shirt, shorts, and slippers. I also noticed that I stopped shopping for clothes, shoes, and make-up as these are not necessary at the moment.
More time at home means more time for other important priorities. I can attend to our dogs, cook meals for the family, write in my blog, and do other household chores and errands.
I can work anywhere as long as I have a stable internet connection. I can also do other stuff while working as long as my job responsibilities are not neglected. I will also include here the privilege of working independently. There are no colleagues or bosses around to scrutinize my work or how I conduct myself at the office. At the end of the day, it’s all about delivery.
Of course, I would not trade this for anything else. Working at home somehow assured me that I can protect myself and my family from the virus. It’s hard to commute and report to work wearing a face shield, face mask, and signing the health declaration form everyday.
I don’t know about the others, but I was able to allocate my transportation, make-up, wardrobe, and food allowance to home groceries and utility bills. I just noticed that our electricity bill spiked up but I am thankful that our company includes the internet reimbursement allowance in our salary.
In any set-up, you can’t have it all. Here are some of the downsides about working from home:
Sometimes, internet service can really be crappy that my work gets interrupted. You have to face occasional lags in tools and applications which can be resolved either by restarting or by just waiting for a miracle.
Our company provides free monthly snacks and nutrition packages to its employees. Also, we are free to get unlimited soda, bottled juices, and coffee during our working hours. This is one of the things that I miss in our office.
Although I have a fixed working space at home, it took me months before I finally get to organize this. I used to work in our living room, with just a tiny table and a monobloc chair. Sometimes I work on the sofa or on my bed. It was only recently that I bought my own office chair to make my working space more comfortable. I miss the aircon, huge dual monitors, and comfy chairs in the office.
I am working in our living room because our rooms are not spacious for a working area. Hence, I have to shift my audio settings to mute from time to time to avoid the background noise being heard from my end during meetings. Also, you don’t see your colleagues’ facial reactions when you have discussions. It’s always good to have face-to-face meetings so everything will be well-communicated. I am thankful though that through the help of technology, meetings can be recorded in case you were not able to attend it or your connection got interrupted.
I miss the formal, random, and friendly interactions with my colleagues and leaders. It’s easier to collaborate if you have frequent conversations with your teammates. You’ll always learn from them.
Others are lucky to have their working space at home that is free from disturbance or noise. In my case, since I am working in a shared common space at home, there is no guarantee I will not be interrupted. People at home may ask me to do something from time to time.
Here are some of my tips for cultivating a healthy workplace at home:
- Establish a routine. Set a daily routine and list your priorities for the day.
- Have a quiet devotional time before work. Spend time reading the bible or something inspirational. Offer your work to God so He can guide you throughout the day.
- Log in earlier than your shift to set up your tools or to check internet latencies. In case things don’t work, you’d have ample time to inform your team members about technical issues.
- Take a bath. I usually do this to energize myself before working. It will also avoid laziness at work.
- Inform your family members about your schedule. Let your family members know about your shift, your break time, or if you have an online meeting so they can also adjust their other activities.
- Stick to your schedule. Avoid working overtime. I’m guilty of this. I was complacent that since I was just at home, I can log out at any time I wish to. However, you should also know your boundaries.
- Take breaks. Take short breaks to rest your eyes from the computer. Hydrate and eat well. Take short naps too.
- Reward yourself over the weekend. Working at home is never easy. Reward yourself with little and simple things that will make you happy. For me, it’s milk tea and a new skincare product!
Based on the list, I therefore conclude that working from home is more advantageous for me in terms of convenience, flexibility, safety, and finances. I am enjoying it and making the most out of it because I know this is only temporary. I also realized that although anything is made possible through technology, it can never transcend barriers in communication and it cannot replace the value of personal interactions.
I’ve also realized how grateful and blessed I am to have a stable job in this unsecured time. If you still have a job now, be thankful and do your best always at work. If your company is still providing you the right compensation and incentives, repay them by rendering excellent service in your role.
If you are one of the unfortunate people who have lost their employment, don’t get weary. Strive your best and soon you will find a stable source of income. Be resourceful, patient, innovative, and creative. Go outside your comfort zones and think outside the box to see the other avenues you can earn your income. It’s never too late to start from scratch. There’s always a time and purpose for everything. Use this season to learn new skills, grow as a person, and rekindle relationships.
Remember, this is just a phase and everything shall pass.
“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:10-11 KJV