Today is the 50th day since I got permission to work from home. It’s only been two months but it feels longer and it’s weird. Well, many things do not feel (and are not) normal anymore anyway, so what the heck, Gregory Peck.
This work from home setup works for me. There, I said it. I know this is not going to be forever but trying it out like this eliminated the wondering part in my head. I think what made it interesting despite doing almost the same work is the how part: setting up remote access to multiple mailboxes and connected databases, figuring out what location works best in terms of lighting and ventilation (the smaller the space, the harder it is to figure out, no kidding), even checking what times during the day my unreliable internet connection will be supportive of my effort to continue my livelihood.
WEEKS ONE AND TWO. Because of my proximity to my office I was asked if I can report to work along with co-workers who live in the same city. We triaged the nature of work and took it from there, changing priorities daily as most decisions were made on the fly. Plus it’s not as if we only had to deal with whatever was left before we suspended operations. Let’s just say if 10 items were left in the queue, a fresh 500 came in daily because our clients needed urgent services. It was 8 long days of voluminous emails, workspace relocation, and uncertainty and worry that I might be bringing home the virus to my family despite following safety protocols and the office providing all the support that they possibly can given the circumstances.
WEEKS THREE TO FIVE. It was a Saturday when the first fatality from COVID was announced in our barangay. Our officials decided on stricter mobility measures so I asked to work from home beginning Monday. This span of time was the hardest phase of my adjustment. I was very anxious during my working hours and I felt the toxic trap of working longer than what’s normally expected and feeling that I was not productive ergo unreliable. Crappy internet aside, most elements were in my favor; the luxury of getting up 15 minutes before work (sa gabi ako naliligo, okay? Ang defensive lang haha), no quota, no face-to-face interaction, and I can step out to buy necessities. But you know, I was your resident Anxiety Judie so I was always exhausted for someone who was glued to the couch practically the whole day.
WEEK SIX TO PRESENT. I must have hit anxiety bottom so on Monday of the sixth week I found myself calm and collected and no longer that anxious. This is work, not a race! I also discovered that working slowly but surely also bodes well with my internet connection. Simply put, I got my groove on.
While I credit prayers and mindset shift (eh, prayers mostly), it’s also the other adjustments that did it. See, I started this WFH gig in the living room and I thought it was optimal because I was on the couch, my table was there big enough to house my laptop, my notebook, and food, and it’s directly in front of the TV where I can watch the news or at best listen to noise. However, it was so hot that my two electric fans were probably as exhausted as me after 8 hours. They were blowing hot air, too, around 2 pm. The pretend bougie in me was annoyed.
I decided to move upstairs in the main bedroom where the lone AC unit is. It did wonders as I realized it’s easier to get pissed when you feel you’re in flames and water comes out of all the pores of your big body. Think of the higher electric bill later, I said. And it was then that I felt a tad better. But wait! The thing with working in the bedroom is…yup, it’s the bedroom. And ours is small that I just sit at the edge of the bed to reach my table. Many times I just lean back and bam! Nap time! Then I lift my upper body after 10-15 minutes and it’s back to answering the unending inquiries again. How healthy.
I forgot when but I did something about it to prevent unnecessary nap times. I took a cushioned chair so I am just beside the bed. Next came the need to regularly stretch my legs. I needed a standing desk! I don’t have one so it’s MacGyver the ergonomics it is! So it’s my main table, then an old laptop table, then a stack of books, and I simply adjust as necessary. I do it a few times a day. The disassembling part to go back to just chair and table is in itself a break, a workout of sorts.
And oh, another mini-setback: I almost lost the use of my laptop. It was one happy morning when my “MacGyver’d” table collapsed. It had a cup of hot coffee on it and for some funny reason the liquid zeroed in on the keyboard. I turned the device upside down to drain it out but it was unresponsive the whole day. I worked using a different device and was ready to
throw a hissy crying fit seek options to replace it (ang tapang ko talaga for someone na walang pera, I’m telling you LOL) until I turned it on and voila! It’s working again, albeit with a coffee-scented keyboard. Some keys were “crunchy”, too. Guess it’s the coffee granules that dried. At any rate, an unexpected curveball, sure, but Anxiety Judie was in check, so I moved on from it in less than 48 hours.
YOU’RE GONNA MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE. Yeah, that’s WFH singing the Cups song to me. Although we have not determined an actual date of our return onsite, this setup is ending soon. The time I spent at home not on vacation did a lot of good to me. I confirmed a lot of things about my plans in life and how I had been dealing with my anxieties and realities (mostly badly) while I was in the pre-pandemic grind. That’s the serious sentiment. The non-serious but equally important realization is hell yeah this not seeing the outside world and still churning productivity and earning money is awesome AF.
Pardon my sentiments as I know I still speak from a comfortable place of privilege. And really, the working part of this experience is still from a place of privilege because there are people whose anxiety stems from the fact that it’s been two months and they have not been summoned to work in any capacity which makes them doubt if they are still needed. 😦 Some even don’t have a job to go back to. These are really extraordinary horrible times and for someone who has a heavy burden on her back (my mother, bestfriends, and my boyfriend know this), I still am very lucky. Lucky that I’m able to tell you my story at the very least.
To end, there’s two of my favorite fictional federal government workers. They inspire me in many ways. Up to you to figure out in what ways if you watched the show (and if you have not, I implore you, please do.)
Two months down, we don’t know how many more to go.