By Dhel Nazario
No one imagined engaging in conversation with their parents, cuddling their pet, or washing dishes while facilitating transfers of United States numbers on a laptop computer five times a week, eight hours per shift in a robe.
Roughly more than a month after the community quarantine has been in place, a new work scheme has been set in motion by companies who wish to carry on with their operations, after making a couple of deals with their employees and some trial and error.
This “new normal” came in hot without anticipation. Portions of kitchen tables, living rooms, bedrooms, or any spacious area with a nearby socket have now become mini offices equipped with an extension cord, router cable, and a nice hot cup of tea.
It’s business as usual for Carl, a BPO employee who manages a service provider account in a company in Pasay City, and now busies himself every evening in Manila. He takes care of customers in the U.S. who wish to change their phone numbers.
He was one of those who, during the first day of the community quarantine, had no idea if he would still be able to work and provide for his family. A month later, he sees that things are now “better” with this new work setup.
Pros and cons
However, the new setup doesn’t come without a few complications, like their system.
“It usually goes down because of the security feature they set up to make sure everything is encrypted,” he said.
He frequently encounters connectivity issues with his internet that affect his work as well as his productivity, making his job more frustrating.
The technology is a major adjustment both parties had to endure when the company decided to adopt this setup in light of the unforeseen public health crisis. However, many companies were left unprepared while employees are utterly unequipped, giving them both trouble with fulfilling their duties.
On the plus side, Carl receives an internet allowance from his company.
Despite the technological challenges, he has found that working from home is quite better, away from the nosy people at work and all the gossip, among all the other things he has experienced at the office.
“Working from home [allowed me] to prepare [less] for work, and more time to do other things. I took online courses and discovered new hobbies,” he said.
Yet he mentioned that as comfortable as this setup sounds, he misses his workmates. Chairs, tables, and walls do not make such good work companions on his nightly shift.
He has workmates who have to put up with lone nights at work away from their families. Ever since this setup began, Carlo said he has not spoken to a single one of his work buddies except for work-related conversations — something he never expected to happen.
“I’m guilty that I haven’t spoken to any of my workmates lately during this setup. I think online activities would be great. We just talk usually when I have questions about the process. I’ve seen companies that have departments that have online activities such as different clothing themes per week — it sounds corny, but it helps,” he said.
With the unexpected chain of events, the community quarantine has been extended for another 15 days. Carlo, like some others who were unprepared for this crisis and this new normal, just wishes to interact with his officemates again.
If there is at least one joy that can be derived from this occurrence, says Carl, is that he is spending an ample amount of time with his family — something that was rare during the “normal” days.
“I have cultivated a more deeper relationship with my family which I did not have before. Now that they witness the effort I put into my work, I have more closer ties with them,” he said.
This is the reason he recommends online activities to promote engagement, especially for those who are away from their families. For his part, Carl also checks on his colleagues to know how they are doing.
“They’re not just struggling financially, but also mentally and emotionally. It’s also a way to ease their worries. It’s the least I can do,” he said.