Take a hike: working from home is no fun

February 11, 2020 11:33
People wear protective masks as they walk through the Central financial district on Monday. Photo: Reuters

A snapshot of six Hang Seng Bank management trainees on a hiking trail went viral on social media on Monday, not because the picture was intrinsically unusual or funny but because they were supposed to be working from home, which made it unusual and funny.

One guy in the group decided to take the pic and post it on his Instagram. The caption reads: “Best WFH (work from home) activity."

Netizens, who probably were working from home themselves or required to work in the office, joined the fun and said the local bank should now be called “Han San (Mountain Hiking) Bank”.

You can't really blame millennials if, after having been stuck at home for two weeks, they finally decide to get some fresh air. Ah, the young and the restless.

The bank said it would issue warning letters to the sixsome, and require them to inform the office of what they have been doing while working from home.

Now, that might set a "bad precedent" for the thousands of men and women who have been working from home on account of the novel coronavirus outbreak: their supervisors or HR might also ask them to provide updates of their "home work" from time to time.

They really couldn't put in the report the many hours they had spent watching Netflix, could they?

It's amazing how technology is changing our work practices. Thanks to WhatsApp and cloud storage, one need not go to the office to perform work-related activities. One can do them not only anywhere but anytime as well.

I remember during the SARS outbreak in 2003, I had to go to the office everyday, and everyone was wearing a surgical mask and the work areas were curtained off with plastic. Working from home was not yet an option back then.

But really, home is not an ideal place for work. First and foremost, it's a place where we rest and relax, and so it's hard to set aside the easy vibes.

Of course, the kitchen is better than the office pantry, but you can't order your wife around the way you ask the secretary to do things for you.

There are also countless distractions. How could you assess company figures while the Koreans were sweeping the Oscar awards?

The good thing, of course, is that you don't have to wear a mask at home, and you can cough as much as you want with no officemates looking daggers at you.

You can also talk to clients over the phone without minding how you look. As long as you maintain your all-business-like voice, you don't have to worry about your make-up or change into something more presentable than your jammies.

On the other hand, it's hard to focus on your work at home, especially if you have kids who are running around and creating bedlam in the place.

All this makes you realize that you miss the office, after all.

Now if this outbreak lasts a couple more months, I'm afraid some people will be dying not of coronavirus but of boredom.

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EJ Insight writer

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