Technology and working from home, during the time of COVID-19
Technology is a fickle goddess, especially during these times. While she has provided blessings for those working at home, she’s also quick to punish those who fail to master her many tools.
For those feeling her wrath and having trouble adapting to her needs, we’ve gotten in touch with five muses who can provide guidance and inspiration.
Flowery language aside, the quarantines brought about by the coronavirus pandemic—and the resulting need to work from home—has forced many to learn technology within a relatively short time.
In this case, the “five muses” we’ve mentioned above are actually for working women who, faced with the pandemic have risen to the challenge and mastered the technology needed for working remotely.
Of course, even before the pandemic hit, people were already using various technologies to be able to work over the internet. However, the transition to an environment where these tools where necessary still wasn’t easy.
“It has greatly affected my work,” says Sol, a country media manager for a well-known makeup brand. “Everything is done virtually versus pre-pandemic where interactions were a mix of face-to-face and online.”
For Reia, a cosplayer turned community manager with a large video game publisher, having to work from home was something she relished.
“If anything, I became more efficient and productive, as I am more a work from home kind of person,” she said.
“We were used to working from home,” adds Mina, and entrepreneur who built her own boutique ad agency.
“The way I built the company was, people can work wherever they want—home, coffee shops, any place they find inspiration,” she explains. “No time in or time out. As long as you deliver your output. So we’re used to just keeping tabs with each other ‘online.’”
Even if they were used to working from home, however, the changes brought by the pandemic were still disruptive.
“I usually work from home anyway. But at the start of the ECQ, March, things were slower than usual,” explained Mina. “We were in the dark which projects would proceed or not.”
For those who were working in the corporate world, their employer’s having good business continuity practices helped a lot.
Circe, an HR specialist at a large multinational, said that she was just “glad” that her employers had “invested with technology and I am able to remotely carry on with my business as usual.”
Reia, on the other hand, enjoyed simply being able to “go to work” without much preparation. “I don’t have to dress up, put on makeup and travel to work,” she explained. “I just wake up, drink coffee and then start working. In fact, now I have more time to focus on myself.”
Not everyone could stay home all day, however. As an Assistant Secretary at the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Goddes at times also had to be ready to go out on official business.
“Meetings and events with officials, other government agencies and various groups are conducted via teleconference,” she explained. “We, however, go out to conduct scheduled inspections with media, strictly following the health and safety protocols prescribed by the IATF-EID.”
Despite their different situations, they all agreed that technology helped them a lot during this time.
“It helps a lot as I can access everything I need through technology,” says Circe, who’s thankful for all the technology her company has invested in.
“Technology has been a blessing during this pandemic,” said Goddes. “It made work easier since there is no need to physically be present in the office.”
“Technology has allowed me to connect with people all over the world and with my family back home in the Philippines,” said Reia, who also added that she enjoyed the convenience that it has brought. “I also found it very convenient because now I don’t have to go out to buy groceries, shopping, and attend workshops, therapies, meetings, and yoga!”
“Everything is done online!”
As for the technology itself, most have come to rely on teleconferencing applications such as Zoom.
“For meetings we utilize Zoom, Google Meets, Viber, among others,” confirmed Goddes.
However, tech to cope with working at home during the pandemic isn’t limited to teleconferencing and office apps. Tech has also allowed them to relax during these trying times.
For Mina, taking a break often involves something many people are likely already familiar with—streaming video sites.
“Netflix and Youtube for peace of mind or [a] breather,” she states.
As for Reia, while she does have a gaming computer and a PlayStation 4, she occasionally goes for something more typically Filipino for chilling out.
“My videoke machine,” she answers when asked about technologies she uses to get by her day. Sure, it may now have the latest 4K graphics or 5G technology, but sometimes, all you need is some tunes to sing along to.
Of course, as much as technology can bring convenience and peace of mind, it can also bring new problems and challenges, especially for those who aren’t prepared. As we mentioned before, technology can be fickle after all.
As for our ladies, when asked about what problems they encountered with their tech while working at home, most had the same answer—the internet.
“My huge problem is really my internet connection,” stated Sol. “And unfortunately, we are at the mercy of the telcos on how soon they can fix the problem.”
It’s not surprising, given how our country’s internet infrastructure lags behind that of some of our more developed neighbors.
“I think though the dependence on ‘internet’ is what sucks,” added Mina. However, she was less quick to point the finger at local telcos. “We can’t totally blame them since digital infrastructure here in the Philippines is really bad too.”
Regardless of its quality, the internet was a big game-changer for these five. Having to constantly rely on it for almost everything when it came to work opened their eyes to the possibilities that the internet and technology can bring. (Read: Remote work may be here to stay, even after the pandemic)
“I learned that almost everything can be done online,” said Reia, with a sentiment that was echoed by just about everyone else.
“I realize that a lot of meetings can be done virtually which would save us a lot of time especially for meetings outside the office,” says Sol. “I do miss face-to-face meetings though so I guess a good balance can be achieved post-pandemic.”
Goddes agrees, saying that “it is possible and is just as effective to conduct press conferences, interviews, and other communication and public information processes online.”
Aside from the internet, the other issues that were encountered involved problems with the homegrown company software that some of them had to use.
Circe said that she encountered “Some issues with the HR system,” which she dealt with simply by raising a ticket with her company’s IT who handled the issue.
What’s clear from their replies is that the experience of working at home during the pandemic has been a transformative one. These ladies have seen the power provided by these technologies that enable them to work from home and have integrated these technologies into their daily routines.
“We’re almost five months into this and I have developed certain habits already which include being reliant on technologies,” says Sol. “And it has really made me realize how convenient it is to have tools and platforms that will help us perform our job well.”
Circe echoes these sentiments. “They are part of my day-to-day duties and responsibilities,” she says of these technologies.
Mina was a bit more introspective on what she learned about technology during the pandemic.
“We already know that tech is important and that we can survive and even win in business by working remotely, through the help of tech,” she explains. “But probably learning would come in from how we are also able to use the usual apps, tech that’s available, in creative ways to offer new solutions to our clients, i think that’s where the learning would come in. That in today’s world, there are a lot of possibilities, you just have to be creative.”
With all that they’ve learned, some of the ladies chimed in on what improvements they would love to see made with the current technologies.
Mina simply hopes that future advancements would let her work around the country’s issues with its internet connection.
“Just unload the dependence on the internet for connection,” she suggested. “That would be great.”
Goddes, on the other hand, is hoping for more ways to simply handle the oftentimes confusing glut of content available online these days.
Specifically, she’d want an app that can detect fake news. She also added that she’d want an “ automatic troll deleter, auto filter of irrelevant comments, and auto propaganda filters in Zoom or Google Meets.”
Reia had the most fantastical suggestion, but one that most Metro Manila commuters would appreciate should it ever be invented.
“A machine that could transport me easily to another place so I don’t have to travel [hahaha].”
Sol, on the other hand, had a more down to earth and attainable suggestion.
“A portable, less bulky and expensive ergonomic chair,” she mentions, seemingly aware of how most office and gaming chairs don’t really hit all three.
Mundane as the suggestion may be, it’s still a valid one. At the end of the day, technology is meant to make out lives easier, especially in these trying times.