In a summation, COVID-19 taught us to concentrate on the more essential things of life such as family. Before COVID-19, my normal schedule was to get up by 5:00am, leave for work around 6:00am, and brace through one-and-a-half hours of traffic so that could I arrive and start work by 7:30am until 5:00pm, when I’d start the journey through more traffic back home. On Fridays I finished work at noon.
Additionally, I covered 21 countries in the subregion but in a year I would travel an average of about 10 times to monitor projects and attend conferences and meetings. Travel within west and central Africa is usually stressful even by air, hence a lot of pre-travel preparation was required to avoid mistakes in documentation and planning. My evenings are basically for singing rehearsals or church services or otherwise they were spent trying to beat traffic back home in my 35km journey back home from work.
From March 17th, 2019, however, the international organization I work for requested employees to fill out teleworking agreements and we then began to enforce 100% teleworking to date. There has been a mix of positive and negative repercussions…
As a father of four, two of them under five years old, I have gotten the chance to bond with my only son who is the last born among three older girls. I never realized I missed so much in not seeing all the stages of development of the older ones. My son hardly goes to his mom and always wants to be with me.
Organizations have seen that with the right tools in place we may not necessarily have to always travel. I have successfully carried out my duties which include training, audits, meetings and technical assistance through virtual means to a dozen of countries. On a weekly basis I interact with Washington DC, and various duty posts, as long as the internet works well.
The downside obviously is that I haven’t seen my colleagues for close to two years now. In my kind of organization the cleaners and other lower paid staff benefitted from tips and kindness from those who were more privileged. Unfortunately this can’t happen now.
A travel ban has been placed on all non essential travel so I haven’t travelled for almost two years. The kids don’t get those pretty duty-free gifts anymore and I can’t get my perfume either.
In summary, I have slowed down drastically from the hustle and bustle of life and had time to reflect and focus on the more important things of life. Family is everything. Working from home does have some benefits but a mix of in person and teleworking surely works best.