Are you working from home? Is it the best thing ever or do you find it really challenging? In these strange times, as we battle to deal with the spread of coronavirus, many people around the world have had to work from home. It’s a blessing to be employed when so many others have lost their jobs but how have people adjusted to these new circumstance? It does mean changing the way most of us expect to work quite dramatically.
I interviewed three young people who work at FunDza, Amber, Busiswa and Tamica, to find out how they are coping.
- You are all working and studying at the same time? How do you manage?
- Working and studying can be really draining at times, but since working from home, it’s been easier to manage. I work during the day and at night I study and do assignments. I have learnt to do my assignments in advance so I won’t have to worry about them when the due date is close by.
- I have notes all across my bedroom reminding me of work and school tasks so that I never fall behind. And I create schedules if the assignments all come at once so then I know which assignment I have to do on which day.
- I prefer to not look at work after hours as that distracts me and will give me less time to work on my assignments.
- I also exercise regularly to help relieve any stress or tension that I may have. In between work and study, like from 3:30pm to 6:30pm, I’ll do chores and relax a bit.
- I would say that there are days that I manage working from home well and then there are days when I just feel overwhelmed by everything. I have to say emotionally there are times I just feel off but the team has been very supportive in having people there whenever you need someone to listen. I think I have learnt to just pace myself because overworking will not help me in any way.
- I learnt to balance my time, by having a day dedicated to my studies in which I sit and read through my work or work on assignments.
- Describe your working area
- I am lucky enough to have a quiet space to work, as my bedroom is in a separate entrance, while the rest of my family is in the main house. I have a lovely desk to work at and I am able to work with no distractions.
- My house is small so I use the house furniture as a makeshift desk and chair.
I use the laundry washing basket to put my laptop on top of. I usually work in the corner close to my bed because that’s where the basket is located. Sometimes I sit on the couches but that can get uncomfortable sometimes.
- My working area at home is comfortable and peaceful. I work in my room with no disturbances, even though we are a house full of kids, everyone respects each other’s space.
- What do you enjoy about working from home?
- I love the fact that I get to wake up later, especially since it’s so cold in the morning now.
- I enjoy how independent and strict I’ve become because I’m always paying attention to the time so I won’t take breaks too long.
- I enjoy that I can do other little chores during my lunch time, like cleaning my room.
- I like that I don’t have to travel to work as this saves me money and traveling to work by train is sometimes an issue because it may run late, so now I’m always on time for work.
- I enjoy that I can just wake up and work without stressing about getting ready to go to work. Sometimes I keep my own hours depending on what circumstances I am dealing with.
- Definitely the flexibility, there is no time limit to work, in other words, in the office the latest would be 5pm then time to lock up, whereas at home I can be more flexible, if I don’t get something done in time I can always complete even after my working hours.
- What don’t you enjoy about working from home?
Here the answers varied from:
- There isn’t anything I don’t enjoy about it, it has been really peaceful and productive.
- Distractions, I get distracted a lot. By my sister or by my neighbours who don’t understand the concept of someone working from home. My sister is eight so she is always seeking my attention in some way all day, every day.
- Being home means dealing with chores and home life while stressing about perfecting your work at the same time.
- The only thing I really miss about the office is getting to see my friends and the editing workshops that we had which was so much fun. We still do the workshops virtually, which is still very helpful just not as fun.
- My baby cousin and his siblings are fostered by my parents and so sometimes there does tend to be noise in the backyard.
- If there is one thing that you miss about working in an office, what is it?
- I miss the physical support system and the quietness I had at work; I am the newest member so I was still learning when the lockdown started. I get support now too but there is something different about being there for each other physically.
- The only thing I really miss about the office is getting to see my friends and the editing workshops that we had which was so much fun.
- The interaction with my co-workers.
- Is it easier to work from home? Why, why not?
- Yes, so much easier as I get so much more done, than I would in the office. The time flexibility, less stress spent on transportation.
- I would say that it is definitely easier for me to work from home. I am connected to the internet; I have my own space so I really love working from home. I don’t have to travel to work which is another bonus and I get to wake up later.
- It hasn’t been easy; I get support from the Fundza team but being home means dealing with things you wouldn’t normally deal with if you were at the office. Like noise, children and just the emotional burdens of feeling overwhelmed at times.
- How do you feel about going back to the office one day?
- I think that if we could be given the option in future to work from home I’d definitely take up the offer. I wouldn’t have to travel in to work and that would save me money. I would have my own quiet space and I think I’m more productive at home than at work.
- I am very excited and willing to go back to the office, I just miss working in a professional environment and having conversations with likeminded people as well.
- I feel happy, because I still miss the feel of being in an actual office and interacting and communicating face to face with my co-workers.
- Do you have any technological difficulties in working from home? If so, specify.
- I have no technical difficulties as I have unlimited data. I work with the work laptop which doesn’t give me any issues.
- None, as I have fibre, so my internet connection is good.
- How do you motivate yourself when working from home?
- I motivate myself with short breaks. For example, I tell myself that if I finish a piece (depending on the word count) then I can get a 5-7-minute break to maybe just stretch or make some tea or even check up on the kids.
- I just think about all the things that matter and the reason why I do what I do. I work because I enjoy what we do at Fundza and I get to provide comfort for my family financially.
- I get up every morning with a goal in mind of which task I want to complete and what is the priority. I stick to that “to-do” list and take it from there.
- Have you got any other words of wisdom for people working from home?
- Life is not normal at the moment but at least we are lucky enough to have a job we enjoy at this trying time. For many people things are looking bleak so, appreciate that you even have the privilege to work from home. It doesn’t mean it’s easy but remember things could be worse.
- Always do your best despite your boss not being around. Take initiative, but also ask questions if you don’t understand.
- It’s important to stay motivated and focused, have a goal in mind for everyday and this is what will allow you to complete what you need to do.
It seems that working from home does have some real challenges but it also has some benefits. People miss their friends and the stimulating input at work. On the other hand, it has helped because they don’t have to struggle with public transport. They also feel that they are more productive when working at home.
It will be interesting to see what will happen once the spread of the virus is under control. Will companies allow people to continue to work from home or will they want them back in the office? What will be our new normal?
If you are working from home, I hope that you are managing well. I think that it’s true to say that we all miss mixing with others to some extent. We are, after all, social beings but that working from home isn’t as impossible as we might have thought in the past.
Tell us: Are you working or studying from home/or both? How have you found it?