Working from home during Covid-19

Computer literacy is a contact with the activity of computing deep enough to make the computational equivalent of reading and writing fluent and enjoyable. As in all the arts, a romance with the material must be well under way. If we value the lifelong learning of arts and letters as a springboard for personal and societal growth, should any less effort be spent to make computing a part of our lives?

Alan Kay, computer scientist

When some of the desktop publishing (DTP) artists in my office went home recently after a hard day’s work, they brought home their office computers.

The next day, all stopped coming to the office; it was the day New Sarawak Tribune joined the large number of companies all over the world which decided to send their employees home to work to curb the spread of Covid-19. 

However, one or two sub editors with connectivity problems continued to work in the office.

As with the implementation of every new system, there were teething problems on the first day of operations even though the DTP artists as well as the sub editors had been given refresher courses on how to use the apps and coached on using the technology.

The main problem was connectivity issue.

I was one of the sub editors working from home; after the boss had indicated that a page was ready, I had to send the news to the DTP artist in charge of the page.

I clicked on a news item and tried to drag into the relevant page. It refused to budge. If I was still working in the office, I could have approached someone and asked him/her to show me how to click on the news story properly so that it could be dragged to a page.

“You just right click and drag the news item,” a colleague I consulted told me. It was a command that was easier said than done.

I never had such a problem before in the office but then, I had never worked with a Dropbox before. There was no need for a Dropbox in the office.

For those who are not tech savvy, do you know that Dropbox is a file hosting service operated by the American company Dropbox, Inc., headquartered in San Francisco, California, that offers cloud storage, file synchronisation, personal cloud and client software?

Many university students, I discover, are very familiar with the Dropbox because they use it to send their assignments to their lecturers while many accountants use it to send documents to their clients.

Anyway, I spent some time trying to drag the news to the relevant folder in the Dropbox.

In the end, with time ticking fast like a bomb and the boss breathing down my neck, I chose an easier path. I picked up my handphone, called an ever-helpful colleague and asked her to help me move all my news to a particular folder in the Dropbox.

That night, I was quite frustrated. Why couldn’t I drag the news to the folder in the Dropbox? I spent the whole of next day thinking about the issue.

Is working from home fun? No, it is not, especially if you have a deadline to meet and the apps are not functioning as well as you expect them to.

These days, people from all walks of life are forced to adopt technology. There is a saying that goes, “Things don’t go on forever, and the quicker you accept that change is inevitable, the happier you’re gonna be”.

However, some people are not ready for change because they don’t have the proper gadgets like computers to help them go through the process.

When the boss told us that we would be working from home, I was excited and ready for the challenges because I had a laptop at home. I spent two days in the office learning how to use the apps while performing my usual job.

On the first day of working from home, I just did not expect the unexpected hiccups I faced with the Dropbox which I could not download and had to access manually.   

I have read so much about the online classes that the students have to attend during the current pandemic. Now, I understand their frustrations with technological hiccups and how they feel.

If I have known ages ago that I would be editing news and editing newspaper pages at home and sending them back to a location miles away, I would have invested tons of money on the most advanced computer and software. These would definitely have saved me a lot of frustrations.

Looking back, despite the hiccups, I am grateful for the opportunity to work from home because I get the opportunity to use the Dropbox for the first time and a few other new apps.

Zero commute time into the office also means I save money on my fuel and can spend more time with my dog and cat at home.

I am lucky to have a home office set up with a proper desk and chair and working from home allows me to spend more time in it.

From now on, I look forward to working smoothly from home. And no one can accuse me of being ‘computer-illiterate’.