Quarantine Chronicles # 3 – A typical day

Even before the community quarantine was implemented, I have been an advocate of work-from-home (wfm) arrangement. I believed that some work can be done in the comforts of home. Employees are spared from the troubles of traveling. They can eat cheaper and healthier home cooked meals. They don’t have to dress up. For working parents, they can have additional time with their children.

When the community quarantine was imposed, everyone was forced to drastically embrace wfm system. I’m sure, everyone has struggles. Stability of internet connection, smaller spaces, distractions from family, undefined working hours, lengthy remote meetings and difficulty of arriving with the best consensus. Unfortunately, we all lean to one option. We need to make everything happen at all costs. Everyone needs to get the job done.

Like all wfm employees, I try to follow a routine. While some start their work in the morning, my system does not work that way. I’m alive and functioning around 10 pm, when everyone else is about to end their day. I find my working pace from night time till dawn because I love the silence of the entire environment. I don’t get disturbed by calls, messages, delivery services and anyone from the family. It also helps that internet connection is faster during night time. More importantly, the weather is more forgiving in the evening. Me and my wfm devices cannot bear the summer heat.

I start my day at 10 pm and usually finish before sunrise. In as much as I try to become consistent with this arrangement, people within my environment do everything in the morning. There are days when I have to wake up earlier and join remote meetings. Sometimes, meetings are scheduled in the sweltering afternoon. In the end, I’m left with a ruined body clock.

In my wishful and ideal world, the best wfm days happen when

  1. I finally completed a grueling report.
  2. I hit that send button with the report that consumed me and my sanity
  3. I found supportive colleagues from other departments
  4. When I’m able to successfully assist another colleague
  5. My skin still looks decent and my eyes are not puffy after days of not sleeping well
  6. I get undisrupted sleep after submitting a report. This meant no calls or urgent concerns.

My worst days include

  1. Teammates don’t comply with deadline
  2. On top of not complying with deadlines, they will keep their silence and I will be forced to wear the shoes of someone begging for updates
  3. Delayed and substandard reports
  4. Unresponsive teammates
  5. Alarming news and changes from top management
  6. Unexpected directives

and the list goes on….

Aside from work, I think everyone finally managed to have more time at home. In my case, with my family.

Looking back at my life before the community quarantine….

On a usual work week, I will drag myselt to report for work on Monday. I’m lucky if there are no meetings or presentations. Once in a while, we meet my friend T for pizza and coffee. Never mind if it’s midweek and I needed to report early for a meeting. Like everyone else, I look forward for Fridays. I’ll wear my casual clothes and count the hours before another work day ends. On some days, I drag my friend A for dinner. If I have additional money to spare, I drop by Uniqlo or SM Department Store. I usually arrive home a liitle late on Fridays and savor the rare times I have more than 8 hours of sleep.

During weekends, I do some freelance works. If luck is on my side, I have freelance writing works that entail academic research. A former superior is my favorite client because she refers me to decent and well paying clients. On weekend afternoons, I exercise my self-taught photography skills. I provide content for a small online business. If resources can still afford, I avail of food delivery via Grab Food. On Sundays, I’ll try my best to do nothing. Sleep, read and watch some series. On the rare times, my cousins invite me for dinner or a mall date.

These days, half of my life is still about work.

I still advocate for wfm arrangement. Unfortunately, I would have preferred that wfm happened way before covid19 and poor governance messed up our country. The wfm arrangement I envisioned entailed working on my pace, while still abiding with deadlines.  Problem is, not all colleagues can make it happen. Added to this, even friends from other companies are complaining of undefined working hours.

I always thought that wfm is leaning to output based arrangement. Apparently, there are unexpected concerns. I thought conflicts and politics will be lessened. Turns out, another set of struggles come along the way.

I still have a lot in my mind I wish to share. But my thoughts are all scattered. In another post, I’ll probably write what I have learned from this crisis.

Quarantine Chronicles # 2

When the community quarantine in my country started, I thought I would be fine. I will work from home, submit my outputs and continue receiving my salary. I thought everything will be simple and easy. As days progressed, all the worries and struggles started to escalate.

Back in April, my superior gave a major task. It will be my first attempt to prepare this critical document. It took me several days to gather my working pace. As usual, I work from night till dawn. I submitted my output, my superior accepted and I thought, it was mission accomplished. As days progressed, issues emerged. I had no choice, I shrugged it off and moved on. There were other concerns to attend.

Soon enough, I discovered problems within my department. It was my first time to hire. I trusted someone believing that the person was competent to fulfill the responsibilities. Turns out, I planted another problem. Both skills and work attitude were problematic. It was a tough decision. On top of this global crisis, I will remember 2020 as the first time I hired and fired someone.

Meanwhile, another colleague remains unreachable. The last time I heard from her was April 18. I exhausted all means to reach out. I even asked a former colleague, who lives within her place, to check her condition. I learned her family was fine. I just can’t understand why she refuses to send a single SMS. I’ve done my part. I respected her silence.

A few more weeks, my employer implemented cost savings measures. Everyone was forced to use their leave credits. Non-tenured employees experienced reduction in their salaries. I heard complaints and other stories from colleagues. The tensions and worries were becoming stronger.

In between struggles, my sanity is saved by friends. I’m thankful for friends who made their presence felt, albeit online. Facebook Messenger has become my sanity platform. I wouldn’t survive half of the past 65 days without them.

On top of work, there’s also my growing worries about my family. I don’t wish anything grand for my family. The fact that everyone is healthy and I have the means to support them is more than enough. Though admittedly, I have worries for myself. What will happen to me when they are all gone? If my parents and brother gets hospitalized. I keep imagining the worst, which only contributes to my level of unnecessary stress.

It may sound petty but minor concerns such as the sweltering weather did not contribute anything good. My work from home devices are overheating. Purchasing another electric fan does not solve the problem. Fellow Filipinos knew how electric fans work during the summer season. It emits an equally irritating heated air. As much as I want to purchase an air-conditioning unit, resources do not permit. Likewise, it’s inconvenient to find someone, who will install the unit. I bought an air cooler instead. I was pretty contented except that the expensive device started malfunctioning as I type this post. Phew! I hope it doesn’t totally malfunction. I even wrote a great review in my other blog. In a few weeks, lengthy zoom meetings will start again. The air cooler is my petty source of comfort. 😦 Also, I think my wfm arrangement will continue till the end of the year. This air cooler is my only investment for that much needed comfort.

More than health concerns, the economic implication of the global crisis has become the common struggle of both government and private sectors. Companies are losing earnings. When the national government announced the one-month quarantine, I was fully aware of its economic effects. Though in my mind, one month is a manageable time frame for everyone. Unfortunately, we are hitting 60 days. I knew a businesses resorted on the most drastic measure of closure. I hope the few businesses I patronize will never cease operations.

Some businesses tried their best to impose survival measures. I appreciate companies finally embracing e-commerce in a short span of time. Some established brands even sell via Facebook. Restaurants shifted to deliveries. I’m quite amazed on how businesses are responding to generate sales. But these actions only qualify for the reactive phase. In times like this, broader strokes and long term actions are direly needed.

This crisis has diverted everything. Plans, decisions and outlook in life. It’s day 60+ in the Philippines. Wuhan had it for 76 days. I thought Philippines will be better. I thought we can address this in a span of one month. Sadly, it looks like Philippines will exceed the lockdown period of the place that started everything.