The Last Time I Wore Shoes: A Month in QuarantineEmployee Journals
When work was suspended last March 13, 2020, the first careless thought I got was me getting a one-day head start on my week-long vacation scheduled to begin the following day. The trip had been planned for months, tickets and hotels already paid, and I was itching to just go.
The second careless thought was me believing that this was all just some phase that will sort itself out in a few days.
Fast-forward to a month later, I found myself flipping the calendar from March to April, as it dawned on me that I have been in my childhood home in the province for thirty-one days, the longest I’ve stayed in years. With a quarantine down to the barangay level, officials blaring warnings against loitering every few hours or so on their cars, suffice to say, this is the longest I’ve failed to set foot outside the gates as well.
I guess I can consider myself as part of the lucky ones. Being part of a company gracious enough to let me work from home is really a blessing in turbulent times such as these. Still, despite all the obvious comforts and perks working from home brings, I can’t help but miss saying ‘good morning!’ to my colleagues face to face.
One thing I miss the most from working at the office would most definitely be meeting up with co-employees in person. Aside from the obvious benefit from being with people I’ve come to know as friends, it generally felt easier and more natural to collaborate by bouncing ideas off one another, instead of just through the chat box. The working environment promotes open communication, allowing team members and leaders to work efficiently, as if running like clockwork.
The obviously more relaxed environment notwithstanding, there are still confidential information that are carefully guarded around our housemates. Discussion points that could be delved upon in an active exchange with teammates at a drop of a hat are sometimes reserved for voiceless chats, parked until members of the party see the message first. As intelligent and insightful our parents and siblings may be as conversationalists, we can never be too careful when information security is at stake.
Another major convenience present in the office setting is uninterrupted and stable internet connection, as well as electricity. Working from home wasn’t a regular thing prior to this situation, and there are a lot of challenges that come with it. Setting up a workstation and making sure dorm mates or family members don’t accidentally make a cameo during video conferences are some hurdles to get over, but there are also things I can’t control, like internet instability and power outages. Trust me: when work from home was made available, the last thing I needed was getting myself benched for a week because of an unresolvable internet connectivity issue.
After more than a month in quarantine, I hope I speak for everyone when I say that the COVID-19 situation can’t end fast enough. Fortunately, we can all contribute to the fight against this virus, with the first step being, well, not stepping outside at all unless necessary. There is a time and place for everything, after all, and once it is all over, we will have our chance to do everything we love, see friends we’ve missed, and finally continue plans that have for so long taken the back seat.
On the Front Lines: Back to the Office
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.