Last March 13, 2020, our office announced that everyone will be working from home for a week. It was the time when the number of COVID-19 cases increased in the Philippines in a matter of weeks if I remember correctly. I thought, okay, that’s cool. Until it became more weeks, months, and now we’re all working remotely for more than a year.
Before the pandemic, working from home was generally a great idea. I live 14 kilometers away from my workplace and commuting on a daily basis can be pretty draining, not to mention the traffic, long lines, and whatnot. I thought this kind of working arrangement will be beneficial for employees in terms of their overall well-being.
However, when the time came that everyone was forced (not “given the chance”) to work remotely, many employees initially enjoyed it until it became emotionally and mentally exhausting. Before I continue, let me clarify that I am thankful I have a job at this time. I’m not, in any way, disregarding people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. I just pray this crisis will end as soon as possible.
Stress levels are at its peak
There is an understandably more significant level of work-related stress for employees since the pandemic. According to the August 2020 Job Report of JobStreet, over half (54%) of the respondents who are working from home said they created a separate workspace, while 48% are working longer hours, 43% changed the times they work, and lastly, 37% take on more household responsibilities themselves.
Personally, there were times when I had to do minimal household chores mid-work. It’s generally fine but it’s an addition to the piled-up work or things I am thinking about every day. And because we are home, many don’t think about the time we spend at work. I tend to not finish my lunch break since my laptop is just there and I felt like I don’t want to be wasting time. It’s a routine that became tiring at some point.
Many would say it’s all about discipline but to tell you honestly, working from home during the pandemic has blurred the thin line between life and work. Even my short breaks couldn’t help.
We crave communication beyond group chats
Remember when you work together in the office, you can just talk to the person near you. You can quickly ask questions to your co-workers. You can enjoy lunch breaks or even coffee time together. That’s probably what I miss a lot. Although I don’t really socialize with other people most of the time, the need to physically and socially communicate is growing.
Right now, our only means of communication are through Zoom, Viber, or Telegram. Every day, we rely on technology to say what we want, and it feels different than talking to our co-workers in person. The stress would have been more bearable if we are able to drink with friends on Fridays, which leads me to my last point.
It’s like being a prisoner
Like I said, working from home is a good idea to decongest commercial districts. It also opens opportunities for people who want jobs from key cities but live in the province.
What I do not like about my situation right now is that I can’t have the leisure of going out to de-stress whenever I want. We are stuck at home and have no choice but to sweep our well-being under the rug just by watching Netflix, sleeping, and eating. After feeling like a prisoner because of this pandemic, going places have become therapeutic for me. I now even enjoy doing grocery runs which I never liked. I kind of regret the times I didn’t go out simply because I wanted to stay home. But now that it’s the other way around, it doesn’t feel too right at all.
I’m no expert at this but maybe it has something to do with the environment. Perhaps, being in a different location can have some psychological effect of some sort. Not that I don’t want to follow minimum health protocol, but this pandemic just sucks I wish it ends ASAP.
Working from home is here to stay for the foreseeable future as we all adapt to the changes brought by the new normal. While it has many benefits, finding balance within life and job can become more complicated. Consequently, this can take a considerable toll on our health and happiness—leaving us feeling burnt-out, overworked, and stressed.
If only we live like we normally do, working from home would have been a great experience for everyone. But this pandemic has given me the impression that remote work is only for the ones who are mentally strong, and that is not me.
What are your experiences while working from home during the pandemic?