With the world already getting used to our current situation, we started seeing people returning to offices even though there is still no proven vaccine to work against the COVID-19 virus. There had been multiple articles since the pandemic around the pros and cons of working from home, some calling it unproductive, while others appreciating the uninterrupted time to focus on their work. In this story, follow JJ Chew, AVP, Marketing as we dive deeper into the different views of the pro-office vs. the pro-home group of professionals and find out how our mindset towards work has evolved.
SINGAPORE: It is 9:00 AM, I settled down on my sofa in the living room, a cup of tea already prepared on the messy coffee table in front of me. Wireless mouse and all kinds of cables from chargers spread across like a mad labyrinth. I watched as the steam from the cup danced in the breeze coming in from the window while my laptop signed me into Teams, Zoom, and Webex. This is Monday.
I looked at my dogs, they have gotten used to us being home the entire day. They stopped barking at me to wake up at 7:00 AM if I am not up yet (yes, dogs can tell time). Instead, they do it at 8:30 AM now. Yes, 30 minutes is unbelievably enough to brush your teeth, take a shower, boil water, and make some tea.
It was fortunate that our timing has become more flexible, considering we were in the process of moving to another place. We now had longer evenings to pack our stuff for the big move. This would not have been possible if we worked in the office from 9 to 6 and reach home at almost 8 every day.
At the beginning of the Circuit Breaker (Singapore’s stay-at-home order and cordon sanitaire), I was obsessed with being online during the standard working hours. My heart skipped a beat every time a message popped up from the corner of the screen. I kept myself connected across all my devices – desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile just so that I remained contactable. I heard multiple chimes with each message I received across them. I get surprise calls with hardly any reason, which I believed was just to make sure I am not skiving. I was freaking out over this new lifestyle back then.
I had only been back to the office twice since the Circuit Breaker started, which meant that I had not seen many of my co-workers in months. The little chatters happening around the office were gone. I used to hear when engineers return from across the office, and the occasional laughter from the other far side. I just received a message from a co-worker saying she missed me, I do too. Gone were the days of venturing out for lunch in the peak of heat, but also the routine gathering of happiness in our pantry. I especially missed our office lady, the motherly figure who cared for more than just our office space.
(I should also mention that the devil’s ivy on my desk had gone to a better place.)
See, the things I missed about office life are human relationships driven. I am sure many of you reading this would agree as well. Hardly anything that could be achieved in the office could not be done at home. The initial doubt of decreased performance level by working from home has faded when months of constant results proved it untrue. “That meeting could have been an email” had never been more relevant when people realized how much time they wasted on meetings now that we cannot meet in person. Traditional thinking of having employees within view from 9 to 6 has been thrown out the window.
However, this is abnormal. There, I have said it. Everyone calls it the new normal, but there is nothing normal about what we are experiencing. Yes, we are used to the new arrangements, but deep down we know that this will not last. Eventually, we will revert to how life used to be before COVID happened. Before we fully return to that, I am curious what squad are you?