I speak from a position of privilege when I say that I am working from home. I am not worried about keeping the home fires burning because my office is already making sure that I can continue to work with peace of mind. This is truly a privilege at a time when many people around the world are losing their jobs, are worried about paying for medical treatment, or are just struggling to make ends meet.
This global pandemic has highlighted the need to help the poor and vulnerable in Asia and the Pacific and around the world, and so much has already been written about COVID-19. So, today I would like to focus on those who like me have the privilege of working from home.
Here are my top four takeaways from this experience. I hope some resonate with you too and help you go about your day.
Be kind to one another
A good mantra for life in general, but especially in these times. We do not have the luxury of walking into each other’s room and sort out a seemingly trivial query. Give each other space, maybe a few extra hours especially to those working in different time zones. Avoid speculation that your colleagues are still sleeping or taking an extra snack break. Chances are, they are struggling with some other deadlines or dealing with another client. Everyone is adjusting and struggling with work, health concerns, and life in general, some fare better than others. Be kind to one another.
Be kind to yourself
Working from home over an extended period of time is unchartered territory for most of us. We certainly dreamt of it, but most of us never came face to face with the reality of it. Contrary to popular belief, it is not possible to work from home straight out of bed. Wearing PJs is acceptable but you do need to change into a state of mind with a dedicated physical space so that you can focus on your work.
In my case, it is the outdoor lanai table in the evening and our dining room in the morning. My husband occupies the library, while my boys stay in their respective rooms as their school offers online learning. We all respect each other’s space and time. Frankly, we now enjoy the newfound privilege of being able to have breakfast and lunch together, something which was not possible before as all of us worked and studied on different schedules.
Give yourself time to adjust to your new reality, have empathy for those who have smaller children or older parents in the house to attend to, and remember that part of being productive in this new situation is to also remember to be kind to yourself. Look after yourself well and stick to a schedule from home too.
When less is good
Have you all been receiving an email avalanche? In our team, we have set some basic ground rules to avoid clogging each other’s inboxes. No need to copy everyone when you want to say thank you, keep emails to the point and try not to send too many emails in general. Use Skype, Teams, or WhatsApp with colleagues to sort out minor queries, so that when you write, you focus only on the critical aspects that need attention. When in doubt, ask yourself: does everybody need to know this? Have I checked other sources before asking an obvious question? Information overdose especially via emails is never good.
The giving hand
Last but not the least, be the giving hand when so many out there need your support and help. If you are reading this post, you are in a position of privilege, so return the favor to the world out there and reach out to local/national/international charities. Now is the time to help others. You will find many that resonate with you. Here, a special shoutout also goes to all the healthcare workers, including all the staff who are keeping the lights on in the HQ building, who are taking COVID-19 by the horns and fighting this pandemic to protect us all.
This is not yet the end of times. It is however a time for pause and reset. The next time you get anxious, remember that the humanity has had to face far more difficult times with far less resources. For those of us in the development and humanitarian sector, we know that there are good reasons to be optimistic that this too shall pass. Take care, stay safe, and remember to be kind! We got this!