Gender Links – Working from Home #WFH

Date: March 29, 2020
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Gender Links staff are working virtually across ten Southern African countries during the 21 day lock down that started in South Africa, our headquarters, on 27 March. “Although there are different regulations now in the different countries where we work, we are one family, and have decided to take a unified approach in the best interests of our staff and their families,” noted GL Chair Emily Brown. “Being accessible and engaged during this period is not only important for our work but also our well-being.”

‘Now more than ever before women’s rights are at risk,” added GL CEO Colleen Lowe Morna. “While we cannot be on the ground in the way we are used to, we need to continue our research, advocacy and training work using the tools at our disposal.”

Announcing the three week lock down from 27 March to 16 April, President Cyril Ramaphosa urged organisations that are able to continue working virtually to do so.

Read our full press release here.

Share your experiences in the comment box!

9 thoughts on “Gender Links – Working from Home #WFH”

Colleen says:

I have always had a “den” at home. Its separate from the main house and has been my thinking space for the better part of 25 years. Its small but here I am surrounded by photos of my loved ones, all of whom are bunkered down in various parts of the world right now. Teams, skypes, zooms keep us connected. Before you know it the day is gone in meetings! Its not as “warm” but certainly more efficient than face to face meetings. I am thinking how the environment gets to “breathe” as our cars, boats and aeroplanes are parked. I am fortunate to have a garden and I recently developed a passion for organic gardening. Every two hours I take a walk in the garden and its great to feel the sunshine and see my spinach growing so well. I am reminded of the things that really matter in life – family, friends, purpose, community, good nutrition, exercise. It is indeed in the darkest nights that the brightest stars shine.

Nomthandazo says:

This lockdown has brought with it a lot of appreciation to me because I have my kids staying with me for the 21 Days, I am able to monitor that they do their school work and that the TV is kept off until 2pm when they would be finishing their classes. In my house we are having a ‘normal’ work and school routine. My biggest fear however about working from home was the amount of discipline that I’d have to put myself in, but on Friday during a call with my manager she reminded me that I am capable of working from home because that’s essentially what we did when we used to work on the Barometer. We would retreat as a team of five staff members for two to three weeks to finalize the Barometer in the beautiful mountains of Magaliesburg, at the end of the retreat we would be treated to a lovely hot stone massage. There are no mountains around me however from my bedroom turned office window I am able to see a tree, clouds and hear the constant musical melody of the birds chirping. I am enjoying the time spent working from home and I will ensure that after this lockdown I treat myself with a relaxing spa day.

Susan says:

Working from home is not foreign to me. I worked from home for an international organization for seven years, so I’m used to the routine. Although, when I last worked from home my brother was still around so at least then I had someone to talk to ever day, now I live alone. I have a spare room which is my office, so I have a separate space for work and different space for everything else, which means I am able to compartmentalize and ‘leave’ work at the end of the day (though sometimes work moves to the couch in the evening for a change of scenery). Routine is key, getting up, having a shower, getting dressed are all essential to ensure the right frame of mind for the workday. I am also continuing my exercise routine with morning online training sessions. It’s amazing what we can do these days because we’re so connected even remotely. Taking breaks from your desk during the day is also important and I am lucky, and very grateful, that I have a garden I can sit in just for a break from being inside all day. My cats are loving having me at home, but also think that I’m here just to play with them, but it’s nice to have some unconditional love, and cats don’t share a million messages about coronavirus which is a nice reprieve from all the information flying around. What is great about working from home is that I eat less and don’t spend money on lunch every day so my waistline and purse are both happy with this arrangement.

Mukayi Makaya says:

I have the privilege of often working from home due to the nature of work, which is dependent on a quite space, with good internet and is mostly desk bound, therefore working form home it is not a new concept for me. However this is often easy as i am alone for the most part, but now due to the Corona and Varsity shut-downs/evacuations, both my boys are home and officially on “holiday” which means online-games the whole day in the family room aka my office!.

This time round, i have had to negotiate my space and time, i had to engage my boys on some “house-rules” which include no TV/Play Station online games from morning till 5pm. If i have to work after 5pm, i move to my bedroom 🙁 so the boys they can begin their fun day, enjoying family room delights (TV, play station games and all! I am grateful the boys bought into the “house-rules”, and so far so good; but there again it’s “early days”. I will see how week one goes.

As family, we have learnt to accommodate each other, and negotiate the space in a way that is functional and comfortable for ALL. I miss the outdoors, outdoor walks and jogs. For exercise i am skipping in my patio 30 mins in the morning & 30 mins in the evening. I have also downloaded an abs & bums workout on my phone — hint hint colleagues don’t say i have gained weight 21 days later!!!

Sifisosami Dube says:

I am really more productive working from home. The Lockdown has forced me to develop a schedule so that I finish the deliverables on time. I have not done it yet!! I forgot to clock in on time the first day of lockdown but today I did not forget – yipeee! Each day after my meditation we do a family exercise at 6.30am via a group WhatsApp video call – my brother is the coach (aka slave driver. I am usually ready to start my work schedule by around 8am each day. I stay with my younger brother who has made life easy for me. He takes liberty to prepare dinner (he likes cooking and am trying hard to stay off from carbs). I like the ‘homely’ environment of working from home although I miss dressing up and putting on make up when going to the office. I am detoxing my skin for these 21 days of Lockdown. They banned people from jogging in our estate during the lockdown so I rely on walking around the house and the morning family exercise led by my other brother. I have not experienced noise disturbances from neighbours and this enables me to focus. My brother keeps himself busy with his school work and Netflix in his room. I am grateful that I am not driving to work this period as I stay quite far from the office with heavy traffic – plus I will save on fuel costs. The lockdown started with many meetings via Zoom or Teams but this is not dampening my spirits as I know when all systems are set we will get going with heavy desk work. The sounds of birds singing from trees nearby remind me that there is life after COVID-19 and that we are fixing the planet to be sustainable. My mum calls each one of us checking if we are ok, I get worried a bit about the lockdown situation in the village where she stays, but I smile knowing that she also has learnt a group Whatsapp call. My husband seems to like Whatsapp video calling this time around (he has been on lockdown in the US earlier than me). This is a time to count my blessings, to value my family and those that are around me. There are so many jokes flying around about working from home – I feel blessed to have a comfortable space to #WFH; it is the way to go! #4IR (4th industrial revolution. Let us make #WFH work – discipline is the key word!

Fanuel says:

I am loving working from home! Waking up to an alarm at 7am is still a pain I must be honest. My kids are the early birds and won’t allow me to snooze for a minute longer. I join my wife in her daily morning exercise routines for I can’t afford to be seen as weak or lazy by the girls. In 15minutes I am already sweating and go for a quick shower. 7:45 I switch my laptop on while dressing up. I promptly log in my attendance before making a cup of coffee. The advantage of working from home is that I will never be running late for the next 21days! The girls understand that the section where my workstation is located is Work and when I join them on the couch I am back home. We all respect our working and learning times. My major worry was the television. Surprisingly I haven’t been tempted to watch my beloved Crime and Investigation documentaries during working hours. I guess my conscience is in the right place. Personally working from home is not a distraction, I still meet my daily and weekly targets without fail. This is what I believe in- Results Based Management.

Sheistah Bundhoo says:

I am working from home for 12 days now. Mauritius went into lockdown after the first announcement of covid 19 with 3 cases at once! The pandemic is frightening out here for just a 1.3 million population. I try to stay positive though. I rarely work from home because we run a halfway home and also the fact that I love being in office. It’s strange that I miss the 1-hour drive to office, I miss the traffic, the happy morning radio shows on my way, the hugs and kisses of the children when I reach work, their daily funny tantrums! I miss it all but I am learning to cope. I do have a separate office space with comfy chairs and facilities but I don’t always feel the space so I sometimes move out to work in my kitchen area making myself a cup of coffee at the same time. I live in a village surrounded by sugarcanes and birds are my friends during work time. They know how to play that ‘concentration, soft music’ better than YouTube! Hoping to get back on move and break off from my Masters’ online classes running from 5.30 till 8.30; I want to see people !

In these difficult times where the whole world has set aside differences to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, drastic changes have been made to daily living and work routines. Due to the high unpredictability of the disease, quarantine procedures are being observed meaning that I have had to work from home.
My day one working from home was different from my routine as I tried to gather myself and get used to my new work environment.Observing the COVID 19 precautionary measures has been made easy in a home environment than having to commute to work mixing with the crowd. Being close to my family has helped me calm down and work even more efficiently because I can rest easy knowing I can closely monitor them in these trying times.
I’ve also figured that I can personalize my work space and tune it to my demands. It has taught me to be better at managing myself and be more self-reliant. Well of course I miss my colleagues and that family culture and bonds we have created at work. I also miss passing through the vegetable shop on my way home.

Bhekiwe Ncube says:

A thought of working from home for the finance team came with a lot of uncertainties. Just now I realise it was the fear of the unknown, we are actually working more efficient with meetings being limited to the business engagement. At the end of the zoom call, one is immediately back to the task at hand with no dispersion lag.

Being accustomed to a bad habit of leaving office late myself, I had no formal set up at home for office work, but I found a warm quiet space next to my gym area. It is now wellness next to my office. A few exercises before the office time is a good start to a productive day. As a late night person, I find WFH very convenient as I no longer worry about the night drive, sometimes in the rain with so much exposure to accidents.

I am positive COVID-19 will go, but will leave us with many new and better ways of working (WOWS) and possibly a significant shift to a “new normal” in the whole world. This will also cab all other communicable diseases and serve us a lot of medical expenses and other costs incidental to falling ill of these diseases also relieving HR practitioners of absence management headaches. To a greater extent, companies are bound to be forced to go green and also realise greater savings on costs related to conventional office arrangements.

Virtual team meetings remain a way of being coordinated and continuing with synergies of skills application, coaching and support. WFH will work well if we do not disappear into our shells and forget about team dynamics.

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