With the advent of Covid-19, we are now living the new normal with members of staff of most Corporate Organizations either fully working from home or partially on alternate days or weeks. Working from Home sounded interesting initially for many of us. It was a huge relief for once that I can avoid the Lagos traffic to and fro work and utilize four hours that could have been wasted doing something more productive. This coupled with a more relaxed atmosphere to think, be creative and do more mental work without the “seemingly overly serious” work environment was comforting. And so, it seemed until we were faced with the harsh realities of working from home.
We soon realized that working from home isn’t a working leave; it actually means putting more hours and efforts than you would normally put working in the office. My experience and that of many others have been back to back teams and zoom meetings, as well as reports and deliverables, never-ending. There is just so much to do and it’s just like the work to be done has tripled. A chat you could have had with a colleague in 5 minutes will result in a team’s meeting going into an hour or more and usually lasting more than the scheduled time. For working mums who need to have the children at home, the attention is divided more. Even when you have nannies to help out with the kids, they just don’t get it that you are at work. You are around and so your presence must be felt. You settle disputes, help with online classes and pray you don’t have interruptions during your meetings.
Lunchtime has also disappeared. These days, you work until evening hours and realize you haven’t had more than a cup of tea. In the office, it’s easy to schedule lunch hours as most people go to lunch around the same time. You are often jolted out of your busy schedule to meet nature’s demand for a meal when you see others doing the same. This is not same for working at home.
However, with the new normal, Work can also be easily tracked as deliverables and videos recordings of meetings are published for all. Serious Organizations are leaving no stones unturned in making efforts to return to maximum productivity pre-Covid. Workers who still have their jobs are also putting in more than enough efforts to ensure they can keep it.
Most noticeable also is the fact that our dear “African time” seems to be going into oblivion. Online Meetings are scheduled for a specific time and people are right on time. There’s no excuse of traffic holding anyone back or trying to look good before a meeting.
The low side continues to be the lack of respect for privacy; colleagues and superiors sending reports or requests at odd hours of the day. Imagine getting a request at 2:00 AM at night? Phew!! As much as work hours have extended beyond the normal 8-5, workers should show consideration for their colleagues. That email can wait! Learn to make use of calendars and reminders. Meetings should be scheduled putting into consideration participants calendar items. The Human Resources of Organisations must also enforce these rules in order to create a more conducive atmosphere for work and improve staff welfare.
While at this, let’s remember to have fun and breathe! Work will always continue but we all need to survive this period first.