On the Front Lines: Back to the Office

by Daphnee Mateo | June 9, 2020

Behind The Scenes

As the quarantine gradually relaxes, more businesses are starting to open their offices once more to keep the economy afloat. While most RareJob Philippines, Inc. employees continue working from home, some have already returned to work from the office, all the while keeping social distancing in place.

One such employee is Kenneth Halili. He has gone through the experience of transitioning from a work from home arrangement to going back to the office. Together with Daphnee, let’s learn all about Kenneth’s first-hand experience on how it is like to be an office-based employee during the General Community Quarantine.

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Work from Home Blues

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Daphnee Mateo

Human Resources

Can you tell us your position, and how long you’ve been with RareJob Philippines, Inc.?

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Kenneth Halili

Operations Support Associate

I’m currently part of the Operations Department as a Support Associate. I’ve been with RareJob for around 1 year and 4 months.

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Daphnee Mateo

Human Resources

What are your main tasks and responsibilities?

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Kenneth Halili

Operations Support Associate

I’m a “frontliner,” if you will, in terms of the day-to-day operations of my team. I help with the daily operations of RareJob through facilitation and monitoring of the services provided to tutors.

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Daphnee Mateo

Human Resources

As one of the RareJob employees who live near the office, how has the working experience been prior to the relaxation of the quarantine to a General Community Quarantine?

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Kenneth Halili

Operations Support Associate

Honestly, at any given day, I would choose to still work at the RareJob office. I’m a “work is work” type of person and there was no “work-life” balance back then. That fine line was blurred during the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine. My work from home setup was honestly like a bum’s nightmare.

My “workplace” was our dining area, with our dining table doubling as my desk. The chairs I used had to vary at one point as they were either too low or too high compared to the table. It was too noisy late in the morning to mid afternoon, which was the time of my shift. It was a dark time, indeed. I was stressed out in my own home and was starting to hate the very place I lived in. That’s why it was a no-brainer for me when the opportunity opened up to report back to the RareJob office as the quarantine here in the Philippines transitioned to the General Community Quarantine.

Facing the Challenges Head On

“As biased as this may sound, only the best possible assistance during a pandemic was provided to us.”

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Daphnee Mateo

Human Resources

With the quarantine having been implemented back in March, what changes did you make in your day to day life to adapt to situation?

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Kenneth Halili

Operations Support Associate

For starters, I had to get used to NOT fixing up my manbun as much.

Kidding aside, just my whole mindset on how to approach work had to be different, especially during the first two months of the ECQ. In the first month, I barely had access to all the backend tools that is needed for the day-to-day operations of our team. Although I learned to utilize social media to my advantage as a means of communication, at the back of my head, I can’t help but feel like an extra baggage for the whole team to carry. The mental game was a tough battle to fight, but just like any challenge you encounter, as cliché as it may sound, you have to push through to come out on top.

At the end of the day, it was “me vs me” in a customer service-oriented line of work. No access to our everyday backend tools? No problem. Find another way. Be resourceful, be on your toes, and just make the most of what I have now. That was my mindset for my weekly five-day shift during the ECQ. It had to be like that. I mean, what else can you do when you’re backed up into a corner?

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Daphnee Mateo

Human Resources

What assistance has the company provided to you during the Enhanced Community Quarantine?

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Kenneth Halili

Operations Support Associate

As biased as this may sound, only the best possible assistance during a pandemic was provided to us. The financial aid, two releases of allocated grocery money and the creditable advance pay from the 13th month, and the newest accessible office laptops to help us perform our responsibilities to the fullest. Even the option to still stay at a work from home setup was provided despite transitioning to the GCQ.

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Daphnee Mateo

Human Resources

Can you tell us how you were able to facilitate your tasks effectively?

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Kenneth Halili

Operations Support Associate

Want an honest answer? I just made the most of what I had at home. At first, since the implementation of the ECQ was sudden, I had to use my own personal laptop (which isn’t the fastest laptop to use for the daily operations of our team, to say the least) for the first two to three weeks. Around a month or two into the ECQ, each one of us in the team were provided with brand new office laptops. Being new, the corporate laptop took some getting used to, although it was way faster than my personal laptop. Another challenge posed by the change in equipment was that no files that were needed in our daily operations were in it. A blank canvas, if you will.

Eventually, through an online platform, I was granted access to some of the backend tools that we use on our daily operations. Despite the updates and upgrades of equipment, we were still not able to utilize our operations to the fullest given the work from home setup, but our team made sure that we still provide the best quality of service we could.

Experiencing the ‘New’ Normal Firsthand

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Daphnee Mateo

Human Resources

As one of the few employees who are currently in the Quezon City office, what is it like to be back working office-based?

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Kenneth Halili

Operations Support Associate

I honestly love it and I’m glad to be back! However, the feel of the office has been odd since I got back for the past two weeks now. I feel like I’m in a video game simulation and you unlock people in the office day by day since the implementation of the GCQ. I compare the feeling to this because not all the people you pass by on a Tuesday would necessarily be the same set of people you’ll be in the office with on a Friday. It also feels like it’s 5:00 PM the whole day in the RareJob Office. (This description is for the all the RareJob Employees, though. Paint that picture in your heads). Overall, my mind is at peace and my mood is at ease.

“Keep in mind that places are opening up for the economy. It doesn’t mean that the virus is gone completely.”

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Daphnee Mateo

Human Resources

With your colleagues working remotely, how do you make sure that you are always on top of things, and are able to work harmoniously with them?

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Kenneth Halili

Operations Support Associate

I honestly just maximize the task and try to utilize the untapped and inaccessible tools from a remote setup. I make sure that all the operations that can be done with the access that I have in the office are accomplished effectively.

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Daphnee Mateo

Human Resources

As someone who is currently experiencing working office-based during the General Community Quarantine in the metro, what advice can you give other workers who are also in the same boat?

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Kenneth Halili

Operations Support Associate

Do not let your guard down that easy in terms of the coronavirus. Wear as much protection that you can on your face and your body, even within your area in the office, keep washing your hands for at least twenty seconds, and sanitize with alcohol afterwards. Once you get home, immediately change your clothes and if you can, take a bath. Take the time to exercise on your down time and watch what you eat to build up your immune system. You have to prepare for the worst now more than ever.

Keep in mind that places are opening up for the economy. It doesn’t mean that the virus is gone completely. Stay safe and stay healthy!

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