How sweet is home?
Empty roads, shuttered shops and few people in sight, the effects of the coronavirus can be seen everywhere across the country. And yet, even during these times, work must carry on for many residents of the city.
Considering the circumstances, many corporations have instructed their employees to work from home. Remote work is not a new concept: it has been successfully implemented in many workplaces across the world. But for Bangladesh, it is somewhat of an uncharted territory.
Right now, there is no other option for many than to adapt to this new reality. Despite how difficult or strange it might feel at first, many are getting used to this new lifestyle and are trying their best to deal with the workload.
This correspondent has recently talked to several employees who are working from home, and they shared their experiences about what is it like to have meetings, submit assignments and give presentations, all using the virtual space.
While they all agreed that working from home is comfortable and relaxing, coordinating with colleagues can be a hassle. They mainly blamed it on the shortcomings of technology, as they think it is not quite there yet, at least in Bangladesh.
Shahadat Apurbo, a deputy manager (communications) at Brac, finds a comfortable spot at his Rampura residence and gets ready for work at 8am.
By 5pm, he closes all work-related software, which means he is done for the day.
"Working from home is undoubtedly relaxing, as you have full freedom to follow your own workstyle. You can work at your own pace as long as you can successfully execute everything," Apurbo said. "However, proper coordination with colleagues is an issue and a reason for delays."
"Besides, you have to constantly keep your eyes on the computer screen for checking emails, having video conferences and much more, which is sometimes stressful," he added.
Iqbal Hasani, a public relations officer of Nuclear Power Plant Company Bangladesh Ltd, sits down to work an hour later than Apurbo but finishes at the same time, doing everything from his house at Bangla Motor.
"Who doesn't want to spend time with their family? Working from home is truly comforting," Iqbal said.
But working in the public sector brings its own set of challenges. "All government files are yet to be digitally converted, and it's not easy to coordinate with everyone," he added.
Shourav Ahmed, a systems integrator at IT company Ding, loves his current work arrangement but dreads the technical issues.
"You can give your 100 per cent at home since the environment is very convenient. But technical problems such as shoddy internet connection are a challenge," Shourav said.
"On top of that, you don't get the guidance you would while working from office," he added.
Even though this arrangement is relaxing, at the end of the day, individuals need to socialise face-to-face to strengthen connections with each other.
Sazia Afrin, a communications officer of Save the Children in Bangladesh, on a typical day, grinds through her work from 8:30am-4:40pm.
"You don't have to worry about reaching office on time and rushing your morning ritual in the process," Sazia said. "However, an important factor, socialising, is missing, which is an ingredient for forming strong bonds among co-workers."
Tasbir Iftekhar, programme producer of Imagine Radio -- who plans shows, generates ideas and writes scripts from 10am-6pm -- echoed Sazia's experiences and commented on his own situation.
"My workplace allowed us to be flexible with our hours. Currently, we're focusing on delivering our projects on time. If I'm doing that, I can work conveniently," said Tasbir.
"At the same time, I'm feeling deprived of face-to-face communication, since most of us talk through phone calls and video chats," he said. "Even colleagues having lunch together can positively impact the work they do.".