When the pandemic started in 2020, people wished to stay home, have their classes suspended or have employers announce remote work. These were some of the things people would consider luxury three years ago. However, in the serenity of the night, our lives were routed to a different path. The initial 15 days of stay at home brought on by the pandemic became one month, then one year, until we lost count of how many days we have been staying at home.
As an employee, shifting to a remote setup was complex. Most companies were not work-from-home ready, and the resources employees could take home were limited. I remember I could not work for two weeks as our company did not have enough laptops for us to use to deliver our responsibilities. Additionally, only some had an internet connection at home. Therefore, the sudden shift in work arrangements became a dilemma for me. I had no choice but to get an internet connection, increasing my expenses due to the monthly internet bill.
But the most challenging part of my work-from-home experience is that I only live in a studio apartment. I did not have a dedicated workstation or chair equipped for more than eight hours of sitting. I could vividly recall what I looked like during those times, my back to the wall and my laptop on a pillow placed on my lap. In just a month with this setup, I’ve experienced severe back pains. The worst part is that I could not go to any hospitals to have my back checked.
I stayed in this setup for around six months, and when I could not take the pain anymore, I consulted a doctor and found out that working more than eight hours a day without the appropriate equipment caused my scoliosis.
In our session with an ergonomics expert, Dr. Jenifer Gutierrez, she stressed the importance of a workplace equipped with our basic working needs, such as the ergo chairs, tables appropriate for our heights, stands to make our laptops eye level, etc. But what struck me the most was when she mentioned that we have the right to receive at least the essential equipment we need to work comfortably. The thing going on in my mind is, “should I ask my employer for an ergo chair?” “should I request a new working table?” and “why did I only find out about this now?”
It was also amazing to hear that many employers invested in employee welfare during the pandemic. The pandemic took a toll on many businesses, and it was a heart-warming fact to hear that despite the sudden decrease in operation and decline in sales, there are still leaders who did not let their employees suffer the heat of the pandemic.
As I ponder the situation I had during the pandemic, I could not help but think how lucky these employees to belong to a pro-employee organization are. At the end of the session, I promised myself that I would become the leader I wished I had. Just because I did not have access to these benefits does not mean my subordinates should suffer the way I did. I will begin by broadening my understanding that only some have access to things that would make a situation bearable. Therefore, as a young leader, I will instill in my mind the importance of assessing, listening and understanding the needs of my team. This way, my subordinates and I can stay healthy and enjoy our work while optimizing our efforts to help our company achieve its goals.
“Hopefully, as companies give more attention to the importance of work-life balance, more and more people will be in a better position to decide and act more holistically on what’s important to them,” according to economist Mohamed El-Erian.
The author is an MBA student at the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, DLSU. She can be reached at email@example.com.
The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.