Coronavirus in UAE: Residents reap dividends of working from home

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Coronavirus, UAE, Residents, reap, dividends, working from home

With a little bit of creativity, many living rooms and bedroom corners have now turned into work spaces.

by Anjana Sankar

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Published: Mon 23 Mar 2020, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 25 Mar 2020, 3:12 PM

Work from home is a not a novel concept globally. But perhaps, this could be the first time that millions of people across the world have collectively taken refuge at home to beat a deadly virus.
Responding to the 'Stay Home' campaign the government, a majority of UAE residents have also begun to work from home to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.
When the mandatory work from home policy has confined residents to their homes, many living rooms and bedroom corners are turning into work spaces and meeting rooms. For some, it means kissing goodbye to nerve-racking traffic jams and doing away with distractions.
For others, it is sorely missing face-to-face interactions and office gossips.
Khaleej Times spoke to five different professionals to find out what thy miss and gain while working from home.
1-Francisco Chacon, Ambassador of Costa Rica to UAE
I started working from home from March 23, following the instructions of the UAE government to stay at home. This is in fact my first time experience. It definitely has its own advantages. You can concentrate and focus more. There are not many distractions. As an ambassador, my job involves meeting lot of people. There are daily interactions with people from different walks of life. I can say that even when I am home, it is business as usual thanks to the technological advances we have. The internet is very fast and there are many conference calls options. I had several meetings today with the UAE government officials and my foreign office - all through phone, WhatsApp and conference calls. Everything went smooth. I even had an appointment with my doctor virtually.
My only advice to people while working from home is to take regular breaks and move about and not get tied to their chairs. That is not good for health. You should step out to your balcony or get out and breathe fresh air. Put some music on. It calms you down and try to be patient and continue living.
2-Shahzad Bhatti, UK national, founder of The Co- Dubai
When you're working from home, it's easier to balance your day with other things that generally make you more productive. I'm able to spend time on having a lunch without looking at a laptop screen and I can also break up my day by doing exercises or stretches, which I wouldn't normally be able to do in the office. Given the current situation we're all facing, it's also the socially responsible thing to do at the moment for those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to do so.
Some of the challenges of working from home is that you have to share the space with other loved ones who may need to focus on other things and have different priorities. Getting some quiet time is always difficult and asking family or loved ones to keep it down is difficult as it's also their home. It's also tough to get feedback and validation on ideas that normally would be quite easy within an office environment where you can quickly ask a colleague's perspective however, when we work from home this is reliant on the rest of the team responding quickly via email or phone, which sometimes doesn't happen.
3-Kristel Bechara, Leabanese expat, artist
I am an artist and I usually work from my studio on the Sheikh Zayed Road. But ever since government has tightened precautions against coronavirus, I have also started working from home. It is a different experience with advantages and disadvantages. I have moved my aisle and all work related stuff into a small corner in my living room since last two weeks. I have two kids - Amy, aged three and Yves, five - and I am managing them as well. My elder son has started school virtually and it keeps him busy at least till 2pm. The younger one is always with me. I am glad that I get quality time with my kids. I am able to participate and engage with my son's studies.
But there is plenty to distract you from your work. For that, I need to be disciplined and make the best out of the situation.
4-Arushi Chaturvedi, financial analyst, AMEA Power
This is the first time I am working from home. As the first step, I have created a nice work corner where I can sit with my laptop and files.
Most of my work is being done through conference calls. Our office has already installed all the needed software on my laptop. For me, it is easier to work from home. I live in Al Nahda and used to commute almost two hours daily to work and back. I start at 6.40am and take a metro to reach my office in JLT by 8am. Now, there is no hassle of commuting daily and am saving time and energy. By sitting at home, I am avoiding the chances of infection too. I think, working from home will better work for people who are single. If you have family and kids at home, it might get difficult. The only difference I feel is the ambience. When you are in office, there is a an ambience that is conducive for work. At home, you have to create it.
5- Rubina Ahmed, advertising professional
I started work from home in the last three days, and I think I am more productive. There are no distractions and I can work peacefully. I plan my day meticulously. To begin with, I don't work in pajamas. I follow the same routine of getting up at the regular time in the morning and I get ready as I would on any working day. That makes you feel that you are 'ready to go'. I have my phone plugged, my laptop and my files, coffee and water ready at my work space. I have a space in my living room that I call work space. The day starts with our morning meeting with clients where we discuss work and things to be done. I take a break occasionally to step out and buy a coffee or to just go to the terrace for some fresh air.
I think this is a good model that companies can adopt in future too even when this crisis is over. 

Anjana Sankar

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