By Pamela Chan
The novelty of the work from home setup has brought with it a wave of change. What was once a bustling work environment filled with colleagues and computers is now filled with furniture and family members. Waiting for transport, scanning name tags, and waving hello to your favourite office security guard have now become obsolete.
This change is perhaps most perplexing for the older generation, as our Head of BI for Loyalty, Partnership, and Monetization, Immanuel Ambhara, has come to learn.
Currently residing in Jakarta, Indonesia with his father, younger brother, 90-year-old grandmother, and five Huskies, Immanuel shares what life has been like working from home as a young adult.
Establishing work boundaries within the boundaries of home
Working from his bedroom, Immanuel explains the biggest daily struggle with this new work setup is finding privacy and concentration during work hours. Most millennials can attest that living with parents or grandparents comes with an unrivaled amount of love and care, as well as the sometimes *slightly* overbearing attention, responsibilities, and the obligation to respect their rules.
Unlike young people co-living with friends or strangers, those living with family members often see multiple in-person interruptions throughout the day. Regularly, Immanuel finds himself pressing the mute button during his Zoom meetings and factoring his family’s home routines into his daily work schedule.
“Sometimes, they’ll come in to sit and listen in on my calls. Even when they don’t make a sound, I find it difficult to not get distracted. I can’t think properly.”
While his father and grandmother certainly mean well, he explains they simply assume that because he’s home, he must not actually be busy. Understandably, working from home is a unique and unfamiliar arrangement that companies around the world are still trying to better grasp and develop (how much more so for the generations above!). After all, home has always been the tangible antithesis of work.
Ultimately, Immanuel’s privacy concerns have affected his concentration.
With the line between work and family life blurred substantially, Immanuel fields the guilt that comes with respecting his family members’ wishes while upholding his need to have a conducive work environment at home. And, as most young people living through this pandemic can surely relate to, finding peace with spending a vast majority of their time indoors.
A new kind of “to do” list
The hustle and bustle of an office may sway our level of focus, but Immanuel posits that working at home has its distractions, too. Now that he’s home during the day, Immanuel has also taken on several tasks to help out around the house: from answering the front door to receive orders and packages, going out to buy meals and groceries for his family, picking his brother up from the train station, to walking, feeding, cleaning up after his five huskies.
“They’re obviously not big responsibilities, but when added up, they can really affect your brain power when you’re deep into an assignment.”
Flip the narrative: Focus on what can be controlled instead
Immanuel has taken steps to get his family to understand his situation and to incorporate his household responsibilities into his work routine. However, the most effective remedy he’s learned since the beginning of the pandemic is that it’s much easier — for all parties involved — to go with the flow.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve overcome these situations. I’ve just learned how to adapt to them. Over time, you just get used to this new way of working.”
This “come what may” approach to his current predicament is what keeps him sane.
Refusing to waste his energy on any negatives, he reminds himself of what a privilege it is to be working from home, and all the positive aspects working from home has brought.
These positive aspects include the convenience of not having to commute every day, saving money on transport and eating out, being in the comfort of your own space, getting to wear comfy clothes, and the peace of mind working in a COVID-free environment.
“I don’t have to worry about bringing the virus home to my father and elderly grandmother,” he says.
Taking breaks every few hours to walk around his neighbourhood and snuggle with his five huskies are some quick fixes that have helped him cope with WFH stressors and reignite his concentration.
Immanuel also prioritises having fixed work, lunch, and exercise hours as much as possible. “It’s not very strict, like: ‘Start morning run at 8, breakfast at 8.45,’ and so on, but I just try to always start my day with a run to get me more energised throughout the day,” he explains.
Moreover, on Gojek’s no-meeting Fridays, he takes his team to work at a café for a change of scene, and organises game nights and online gaming sessions — sometimes even during work hours 🥳 (hey, as long as the team’s healthy and is accomplishing they're goals). It’s safe to bet he’s accomplished his mission of boosting team synergy.
Immanuel’s experience demonstrates the possibility of working around unmovable WFH stressors, and that with time, they simply become common aspects of our daily work routines. All it takes is a change of perspective and the determination to make WFH the new norm.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Immanuel!