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  • Writer's pictureRodney Alkins

How has Working from Home Changed your Life?

COVID19 has changed our lives, to say it has not, means you live on Mars. An unseen, almost untraceable, camouflaged enemy that has impacted the entire world and brought it to a screeching halt. COVID19 moved with speed and precision infecting the entire world in months, leaving humanity in shock as to what was happening, our usual coping mechanisms failed to deal with the onslaught. Governments and economies were at a total loss as how to respond, information, misinformation and conspiracy theories emerged from everywhere across the internet and traditional media. People simply felt helpless and stressed.

It was especially shocking for me as I live on the small island of Barbados in the Caribbean sea, away from main lands and continental countries and since the news said that COVID19 emerged in China, I didn't think it would have reached Barbadian shores; after all SARs didn't. How wrong I was about COVID19.

Island life can be very different to living in a metropolitan country, however, no matter your geographical location, COVID19 was a catalyst that revealed our resilience and our frailty simultaneously. Depending on how closely you were to a COVID19 hotspot, your response was either more or less intense. COVID19 has shaken Caribbean economies to the core, as we are mainly tourism based economies. We knew that if we shut our borders completely, our foreign exchange income would dry up which would mean significant layoffs and deeper borrowing from the IMF. This is not something that you want for a small open economy with little or no natural resources.

I work for a company that is an essential service and my job requires me to provide support services to those essential activities. My job requires me to be in office along with my staff. As a leader I don't see myself being home whilst my staff is in the line of fire. I want to be there to offer support in an uncertain environment where there was little or no information on how one should operate. During the early days of COVID everyone was in a panic, work performance levels dropped significantly as people refocused to personal preservation of themselves and their families. You could see that people were anxious and preoccupied. Essentially, everyone was now suspicious of each other of possibly having COVID19 even though the government was saying there were no cases on island. During this time, COVID19 was decimating Italy, shortly followed by the US and as we watched the spread unfold, our government was still saying, "no cases here."

However, with the international news permeating our society an emerging market for the manufacture of disposable and reusable masks emerged even though there was no manufacturing standard in terms of level of protection offered. We all bought the masks as there was no other solution. I must say they were pretty and came in all different types of materials and colors.

The workplace continue to struggle with establishing new operating protocols and who could and should work from home. It seemed like no one wanted to make the decision. This is just my opinion but I felt that management thought that people would waste time at home and this is understandable as the the island is not traditionally built on a remote work framework.

Finally, COVID19 reached our shores through tourists travelling from the UK, it was then the government ordered a shutdown and we all had to go home except those few who had to monitor 24 hours systems.

Home is a place of family, peace and sanctuary for most people and not a place to work. It is where you go to get away from work to relax and destress. You can see the potential conflict that could emerge where the lines between work and home are now blurred. Work has now entered into your personal space, you are now truly divided as this work from home door has been opened.

One of the first things I noticed was the longer working hours that I carried out voluntarily and I am not sure I understand why I did it, but I know it has something to do with the uncertainty of the transition between the physical work place and home and work performance expectations. I felt that if I worked longer and harder then I could rest more easily as there was the certain expectation that I would relax more than work since I was home. I also felt that meetings would have been intrusive, but it didn't turn out that way. I thank God for that.

In addition to working from home, schools from nursery to tertiary level were closed. Children were home, the lack of those taken for granted services that teachers offered to our children, was now felt in the most intense way. We also realised who parented, who did not, whose relationship on social media was fake and whose was not. COVID19 was placing the proverbial mirror for us to look at ourselves. We had to take more responsibility for our families, we had to spend time with them and we had to manage the time between work and helping our children maneuver the new way of digital schooling. We wanted to remain in our old way of doing things, but COVID19 has vehemently refuse to allow us to do so. We have had to reorganise, do some soul searching, become more creative, become more efficient and effective in our lives. Working from home has changed me for the better. COVID19 is a battle, but it is not a battle without good lessons to be learned. If we don't learn at this point we will never learn.

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