The majority of us have now completed six months of working from home, which is the labor force's coronavirus safety measure. We would now be entitled to vacation, sick, and/or flexible working hours if this were a new job. However, work-from-home (WFH) has completely blurred the lines between work and home, to the point where we might as well proclaim we're working full-time with no time off.
You get up at 8 a.m., make breakfast as your computer boots up, and eat your bowl of cereal in front of your computer. Your online meeting begins at 10 a.m., and you alternate between off-camera and on-camera when your toddler (or dog) needs your attention. The rest of the day is spent juggling tasks such as finishing that report while avoiding burning your rice. Sighing endlessly as your Internet connection becomes shaky for the nth time while eating lunch and dinner with your phone on alert (just in case).
If you were still at work, you'd be clocking off at 6 p.m. to make the mad sprint home—but you're not, because work is only a few feet away. You keep tapping on your keyboard until your Internet, laptop, or kids/pets start acting up again—but never you.
The consequences for mental health are "very frightening."
Our mental health is suffering as a result of this set-up. The stress, anxiety, and depression levels of Filipino employees are "very disturbing," according to a poll conducted by Premier Value Provider Inc. and reported by The Philippine Star on June 1. From May 5 to May 16, the sample size was 450 employees who were either working from home or alternating between WFH and on-site arrangements.
In general, a large percentage of respondents (15%), (29%), and (29%), respectively, expressed high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression (21 percent )
When WFH employees and on-site personnel were compared, the former had greater levels of all three mental health disorders. The shift had the greatest impact on “millennials and Gen Zs,” according to the report. Young employees showed long-term consequences as well, with 43 percent reporting severe stress, 87 percent suffering severe anxiety, and 62 percent experiencing severe sadness.
Employee stress levels in Hong Kong, Thailand, and Singapore were similar, according to a June 11 article in the Nikkei Asian Review. Cigna, a U.S. health-care firm, conducted a poll of workers' anxiety levels as the region transitioned to telecommuting. Work-related stress affected the majority of WFH respondents, with 63 percent in Singapore, 52 percent in Thailand, and 47 percent in Hong Kong. Over 70% of respondents defined their workplace culture as "always on."
Because I am stranded at home, my bosses believe I can work whenever I want. I am also required to work on weekends and holidays for the same reason. In the Nikkei Asian Review Report, Claire Ng stated, "Most of the time, the employers want the task done right away." And we had a lot in common.
In addition, the Philippines is not a WFH-friendly country.
WFH personnel are now dealing with mental health issues in addition to logistical worries about the transition to the telecommuting system. WFH employees complained about "lack of logistical help (such as delivery of equipment)" and "increased working hours" in a BPO Industry Employees Network poll. “Unpaid salaries due to a bad or non-existent Internet connection,” “unjust sanctions due to technological issues,” and “employees shouldering Internet and utility costs.” Up to 77 percent of respondents say they pay for their own Internet, while 54 percent say they don't get an Internet limit and 20% claim they don't have work computers.
According to data collected by Ookla's Speedtest in August 2020, the Philippines has some of the slowest mobile and broadband speeds in the world. Consider the additional stress caused by the “choppy ka” during a virtual meeting, the unnecessary 30-second wait for a webpage to load while attempting to make a deadline, or the continuous resetting of your router because you can't get a decent link.
Still, Filipinos prefer the WFH set-up
Put it down to our so-called fortitude or a fondness for suffering, but according to a GlobalWebIndex survey done in June, Filipino employees expect the WFH setup to become increasingly widespread even after the quarantine. When social distancing tactics are easy, people may choose to "work from wherever."
Another survey conducted by Lenovo Philippines in April found that up to 87 percent of employees were willing to switch to WFH if necessary. According to Business Mirror, Michael Ngan, president and general manager of Lenovo Philippines, said, "Our survey reveals that the work experience was already altering before the pandemic arrived."
Working from home definitely has its advantages. We don’t have to wake up at an ungodly hour to avoid the long lines at the MRT station, waste time sitting in traffic, or spend almost half a day commuting. People get to have more time with their families (while they’re working, obviously).We also spend less on Grab or taxi fares, gas and car maintenance, parking fees, clothing, restaurant food, and other costs that we pay on a daily basis when we go to the office.
Do the benefits, however, outweigh the drawbacks? “While companies may be focused more on the operational part of getting their business back on track with the easing up of quarantine restrictions right now,” according to the Premier Value Provider Inc. survey, “they should not forget that in order to bounce back, they need an organization that is mentally healthy and sound.”
While we don't know what will happen in the near future, both the private and public sectors must work together to ensure that employees adjust successfully to the constraints that the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed.
The workforce, after all, is the backbone of our economy; and you can’t keep sending exhausted soldiers to battle.
It's safe to say that our homes play a role in keeping us safe in these changing times. It's critical to have a space that promotes work-life balance in order to thrive in a work-from-home environment, set limits, and maintain excellent health. A residential complex with amenities where you can relax after work will help you de-stress and replenish your thoughts.
Dressed-up model unit of Gem Residences, Artist’s Perspective
If you need to take breaks in between tasks, having a flexible condo unit where you can do different activities is vital, too. SMDC has properties located in key cities around Metro Manila that match the demands of these trying times. Whether you’re looking for a first home or you’re planning to start anew with the family, there’s an SMDC dream home waiting for you. Visit www.smdc.com for more details.