*This article was submitted anonymously
I like working from home. I’m not going to lie, but it did take some getting used to the first time around. I had to learn how to manage my time properly between work and the hustle and bustle of house chores and family.
I also had to remind myself that I’m still working even though I’m in the comfort of my own home. Because that’s very easy to forget. There are times when I had to remind myself to shut off from “work-mode” when it reaches 6pm. When you’re at home, it’s kind of like you’re overcompensating for something, if you get what I mean.
But now, that’s all in the past. After nearly two years of working from home, now since the SOPs are more or less nonexistent, companies are siren calling their workers to come back to the office. But the real question here is: are we really ready to go back?
To Go Or Not To Go, That Is The Question
Let me save you the trouble — no, we’re not. I’m not, at least. I’m very much okay with working from home. I’d like to proudly say that I may even be a pro at it. After a few hiccups the first few months, I managed to handle work and home life pretty well, if I do say so myself. Do you think I’m just going to easily go back to the office and put myself through another few months of anxiety-inducing fits? I don’t think so.
And I’m not the only one. Eight out of 10 Malaysian employees would prefer to work from home as compared to working from office full time when the pandemic restrictions ease locally, according to a new study by consulting firm EY.
I mean, obviously. Because working from home gives them more time to breathe and set a pace for themselves instead of chasing the clock and wondering when it’s finally time to go home. Now that I’ve gotten a memo from my company of how we’re supposed to come back sometime next week, I’m not excited about it.
When I asked my friends about them going back to the office, it’s met with a lot of grumbles and whining. I feel like now that we’ve had a taste of what working remotely feels like, it’s a lot harder for us to go back to the routine of waking up early, getting dressed and commuting to work. We’ve built our whole daily routine around it for more than two years now, we’re expected to go back to round one? Just like that?
What’s The Problem With Working At The Office?
Here’s the thing — your office isn’t really the problem here. Some people like their office, after all, you get to see your colleagues, you get the juicy office gossip and all that jazz. It’s actually the process of getting there that actually demotivates people. There’s just so much for you to do before you actually get to your workplace.
Hear me out — you have to sleep early because you have to get up early in the morning (at least an hour early), you have to make yourself breakfast and rush to the LRT station (if you don’t have a car), wait for the train to come (that might take a few minutes if the train’s not delayed) or if you’re driving to work, you have to anticipate a traffic jam and then you finally reach your office.
That’s not inclusive of what’s happening in between your work hours — like thinking of where to go for lunch and how much time you get to go to the restaurant, eat and travel back. It all just seems like you’re in a time crunch. And it just makes you so much more tired than just working from home and makes you less likely to want to do anything else afterwards.
Other than the commute, there’s the money aspect of it. Commuting or transportation costs for Klang Valley alone is estimated to take up 20% to 30% of total monthly expenses, according to Belanjawanku, EPF’s reference budget.
Speaking from my own experience, I spend around RM30 a day whenever I go to the office. That’s RM150 a week. There’s tolls to pay for, the parking, the food and other miscellaneous things throughout the day. I’m not even going to count the petrol money, because oh my gosh. The thought of weekends didn’t even excite me anymore because there was just so much to do and so little time to do it.
My weekends would be filled with me trying to make up for lost time and that didn’t make me less tired. It made time pass by way more quickly and before I knew it, it’s Monday. And the cycle continues. Honestly, it made me feel like that fish from Spongebob Squarepants reliving the same life day in day out.
Better Working At Home
I don’t know about you, but my work-life balance is more manageable now that I’m at home. I get so much done and I’m not talking about just work. I’ve picked up a lot of new hobbies that I’ve never even thought of before because I used to not have time to do any of them when I had a full day of work and commute.
A survey titled “Are We Ready To Be Back In Office?” found that 33% of Malaysians prefer to work from home fully and another 32% prefer working away from home. The “away from home” can also be referred to as “remote” and doesn’t necessarily mean “office”. I think we’ve more than evolved to be one of the nations that allow their workers to work remotely, no?
Employment Hero CEO and co-founder Ben Thompson said that studies showed employees around the world believed the time saved from commuting and increased work-life balance have contributed to their productivity.
Moreover, businesses have also increasingly understood that they can still meet their objectives and that the focus should instead be on cultivating leadership capabilities that can successfully manage a remote workforce.
So why not implement that here as well?
Working remotely or from home allows people to have work flexibility whereby they get to do their assigned tasks at their own pace, wherever they are and still be able to fit in their hobbies and whatnot throughout the day. And now that I’ve learnt what it’s like and how much it helps me, I find going back to the office to be something really difficult to get used to.
How To Go Back Then?
This whole article, I talked about the benefits of working from home or remotely because I simply didn’t want to go back to the office. I’m not going to sugarcoat anything and be optimistic about going back because I’m not. I’m not eager to go back to a life of mundane routine and being tired all the time.
Don’t tell me I’m being dramatic either because I know some of you are dreading going back to the office too. There’s no offered solutions that I can give because obviously, I’m just a staff member, so all I can do is follow instructions. But if I were to give advice, it’d be to take it one day at a time. If you feel overwhelmed at work, take a walk around the block and take time to breathe. It’s okay to leave your chair for a few minutes to focus on something more important — your sanity.
So, yes we do have to go back to the office and no, we don’t really have a say in the matter so let’s just make the most of it. Know your limits when it comes to working at the office and don’t trip all over yourself trying to go back to your office routine so quickly. Take. Your. Time.
It also seems like we’re not the only ones with problems adjusting to going back to how things were. Did you hear that school’s started? And boy, do these kids have their own problems.