Work life in the time of Corona in Jordan

Sara Shirmohamad

The outbreak of COVID-19 has affected millions of people globally and the staffs of organizations are no exception. Restrictive measures imposed as a consequence of the pandemic have led to the repatriation of several expatriates and to remote working practices for the others, all of which have caused enormous stress and uncertainty in the daily life of the majority of people. In the following paragraphs I will reflect on some advantages and disadvantages of remote working and the impact it has on productivity, employing my own experiences.

Remote working pros:

Working from home can mean that one has been given the gift of time. Just think of all the time we spend each day for getting prepared for work and commuting to the office. A home office allows us to move the office to the desk at home and get started working right after we get up in the morning, thus eliminating some waste in terms of time.

  • Not commuting and staying home minimizes the transportation cost and food cost (for those who did not used to pack a lunch box every day). This saves time and provides one with more time to invest in work and daily tasks.
  • Working from home enables one to have flexible working hours and one has the opportunity to decide when he/she wants to work. You can simply start an hour earlier or work into the evening hours.
  • Opportunity for multi-tasking is another benefit of this new situation. One can do different tasks at the same time if both tasks require the same amount of attention/concentration.
  • One has more time for workouts, reading and taking online courses.

Remote working cons:

  • Minimized interaction with co-workers is one of the challenges as in-person collaboration is essential for better productivity bearing in mind that phone calls could make collaboration more challenging.
  • Working from home increases the feeling of isolation, which can have direct impact on mental wellbeing of the staff.
  • More distractions at home make it challenging to focus on the work for a long period of time unlike when one works at the office and has a suitable environment for work. It will be of help if one could make the conditions at home similar to those established at the office while self-discipline and clear separation of work and life remain a must.
  • Sometimes it is hard to connect with colleagues, attending meetings or carrying out tasks due to poor connection and disruption of Internet services.

In general, it is worth to mention that pros of working at an office overweighs pros of working from home and should be prioritized. We should bear in mind that humans are social creatures and social interaction is a vital part of our lives and gives us a sense of belonging and normalcy.

In addition, as it is stated by psychologists and professionals in the field of communication, 80% of all communication is through non-verbal communication and body language which implies that we might miss significant signals in our communications with colleagues, that in turn can lead to misunderstanding and interpersonal conflicts when face-to-face meetings are not feasible.  While social distancing is mandatory at these unprecedented times, the above-mentioned facts should also be taken into consideration when deciding for applying new procedures such as telecommuting. It is noteworthy that the productivity of an organization is highly dependent on the staff’s wellbeing and satisfaction. Let’s not forget that “a happy employee is an efficient employee”.