Story – Gautam Viswanathan
As more and more of us get accustomed to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, locals and expats in Oman tell us about how they’re adjusting to their virtual workplaces.
While some speak of how they stay focused at home, others tell of how their companies have actually encouraged them to work from home, providing all of us information that is surely useful during times like these.
Anticipating the arrival of COVID-19 in Oman, many companies in the country had swung into action to draft alternate and emergency measures of working, so that they were ready when the precautions announced by the Supreme Committee to deal with COVID-19 took effect.
“When the COVID-19 outbreak was announced in Oman, our company made preparations to enable all of us to work from home,” said Ahmed Ghaly, a finance executive in the Sultanate. All of our essential programmes were moved onto our company servers, and remote access was enabled for all of us. This way, we can work on the same project from wherever we may be, and this data is updated in real time.”
Rohit Kumar, who works in public relations, said the benefits of video calling were truly being felt at this time. He thanked the government for allowing working professionals access to software such as Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom, which enabled him to speak to his clients remotely, during these exceptional times.
The country’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority had last month, to help circumvent the economic impact of the novel coronavirus, offer the use of these apps to people in the country.
“I maintain the same routine I did when I used to go into the office,” said Kumar. “I am normally on the road by 8 am, but these days, I get a bit more time in the morning because I don’t have a commute to work, or to my clients. Work therefore gets done a lot faster, and the time spent driving between meetings can now be used to focus on the job my clients have given to me.”
Another to extol the virtues of working from home was Samantha Gregg. Employed as a manager for an architecture firm, the benefits of working from home meant she could continue to provide and receive projects updates from her designers and architects.
“It’s a lot easier, because everything is now on the server,” she said. “There are many lessons we can take from our current working-from-home practices back into the workplace, and I for one will be recommending we continue this practice of uploading work to the server regularly.”
However, she said it was important people remembered to take breaks while working, so as to not tire themselves out.
“In the office, we have fixed working hours, as well as the practice of taking breaks for lunch and tea,” she added. “Make sure you do that, otherwise you could get worn out, and follow the same work hours here as you could in the office.”
However, Sultan Al Lawati, who is employed as a telecommunications engineer, added, “Working from home is definitely necessary during a time like this, but I feel that there are many distractions we face while there. My wife and children do interrupt me from time-to-time. That is only natural, because we are after all family, but it does mean that I have to refocus on my work once I have attended to them.
“On the other hand, going to the office means I can focus on my work, and finish it with minimum distraction,” he admitted. “Of course, other people may feel differently. However, I feel working from home is the best alternative for us during these testing times.”– [email protected]