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Social distancing: workers find working from home challenging

Social distancing: workers find working from home challenging

Virtual discussion among Indonesian photo journalists on "How photo journalist work during lockdown amid coronavirus outbreak", on Saturday (April 11, 2020) (ANTARA/HO-Pewarta Foto Indonesia (PFI) Pusat)

Teaching is not for everybody, especially those who do not have a passion for it.

Teaching three- to four-year-olds is a challenging job, and has gotten even more so amid the coronavirus crisis, which has forced schools, companies, and other institutions to close doors.

Vatsya Mallayana, a teacher from a preschool in Tangerang, West Java, agrees there have been challenges in implementing online learning.

“It is very challenging, especially for preschool teachers. During a live session through an online conference application, not all students want to follow instructions, maybe because they are still not used to it,” she told ANTARA.

“Therefore, we have to be more creative and make learning material more attractive so we can grab their attention. We need to make extra efforts,” Vatsya continued.

It has been a month since the school where Vatsya works implemented online learning as a precautionary measures against COVID-19.

Since then, she has had to get used to various online applications, such as Google Classroom and Zoom, to share learning material through video uploads, e-books, and live sessions.

"The first one to two weeks were indeed tiring. But, after the third week, as we became more familiar with online activities, it has gotten easier,” Vatsya noted.

The school's teachers are sending learning videos based on a weekly schedule, from Monday to Friday, and holding two live sessions a week, where students can interact directly with teachers through an online conferencing application.

"The topics discussed during live sessions are varied, but more for fun because the video material that we upload is mostly academic, covering language, mathematics, and science. So, for live sessions, we prefer to do activities to practice fine motor, gross motor, and self-help skills, or perform simple experiments," Vatsya informed.

However, the challenges do not stop there. She said she finds it difficult to monitor children's progress in the online learning process.

Although teaching materials are being sent to parents, not all parents can execute them according to teachers’ expectations.

There are some parents who can only teach their children at night after work, and some get time to open learning videos only on weekends.

“But, we cannot blame parents because of the current situation. We always remind parents to not forget any activities that their children have to do,” she said.

When children have to remain at home, it becomes a challenge for parents to be more involved in their learning process, including facing the fact that sometimes children have difficulty achieving certain goals, Vatsya revealed.

"Because of online learning, I have a lot of discussions with parents about their children. We, as teachers, help them understand that a child needs a process; he cannot only be taught once or twice. It must be done constantly until the child is used to it (concept),” she noted.

Although distance learning raises various challenges, she is grateful that because of working from home, her work and personal life have become more balanced.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, Vatsya used to spend most of her time in school and catch up with household chores on weekends.

"The positive thing is better time management. I can even cook up to two times in a day, something that I previously did only on weekends,” she said.

For Felecia Ballerina, an employee at a big retail company in Jakarta, working from home is more tiring than work as usual.

"For work that requires coordination with many people, this is quite tiring, not only internally, but also externally," she told ANTARA.

Although her office has implemented a seven-hour of workday at home, she often has to stand by until 10 p.m. because many of her tasks involve communicating with several people.

As a buyer, she has to order products, get approval from superiors, and enlist them with the system in the office.

She also has to visit stores once a month to see the products purchased, stocks that need to be maintained, run promos, and identify trends.

“In a situation like this, we do not have to do store visits, but preferably communicate with store teams. I still try to take the time to visit stores, only if I need to buy something. But, I prefer to go to a standalone store to minimize contact with other people so I don’t catch the virus," she said.

To prevent stress as she works at home, unable to go out and meet others, Felecia tries to remain positive, exercise, and follow her hobbies.

"As an extrovert, in the beginning I almost went crazy, because I really could not meet my friends. But then I pray a lot, attend church online and read positive news to stay motivated," she explained.

Aghastya Hermastuti, who works in the creative sector as an event organizer in Yogyakarta, is not happy about working from home.

Many roadshow events and weddings that she was working on have been postponed or even canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"As someone who is used to working in the field, working from home is certainly boring and has many limitations," she admitted.

Delays or cancellations of events have also severely hit the earnings of event organizers.

"You could say the financial condition of freelance event organizers is at its worst right now," she said.

Although she was worried over having no income as there were no events last month, Aghastya managed to get a job as project officer/ manager, which requires her to make a concept, a project plan, and prepare for pitching several new products that would soon be launched.

"Finally, the cash flow can run again. Besides, working from home also helps me to cut unnecessary expenses, such as on transportation, so I can keep my money just for primary needs," she pointed out.

"I believe, however difficult the situation is, the way out and the door to fortune will always be open to anyone who wants to try," Aghastya averred. 

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