Yangyel Lhaden

As Sonam Yangdon is attending an important meeting, a quarrel breaks out between her children. She leaves the computer, yelling at them and trying to resolve it. Later, she finds she had forgotten to mute her audio in the virtual meeting.

She said that was the most embarrassing moment, and there were foreign team members attending. “I hope they did not take me to be an angry mother.”

She said that both work and her family are her priorities, and to juggle between the two during the lockdown is challenging. “I’m not complaining , everyone is going through a rough time, but lockdown is challenging especially for parents and kids.”

She is not alone. More than two weeks into the fourth lockdown, many still find working from home to be challenging.

Data charges, network issues, nature of work, no monitoring system, and a lack of a proper system to work from home were some of the issues employees raised.

A researcher with one of the financial institutions finds it difficult to work from home, as he is easily distracted. He said that there is no one to monitor him at home, so for him to work at his full potential, it is better to work in the office. “Moreover, I have a large number of downloads needed to conduct analysis, which consume a lot of data.”

Data charges are not a problem for Karma Chhoning Pelmo, but internet speed is. She works at Thimphu Tech Park. She said that her company covers half of the cost.

Her only problem is that her work requires a lot of interaction and teamwork. She said that sometimes it takes more than an hour to clarify a single doubt and they have to wait for one person to get done to proceed.  “There’s a lot of back and forth involved in my work, which is easier to handle working in an office environment.”

A civil servant, Deki, said that to be efficient working from home, there needs to be a system providing employees with the right resources. “Our system should enable us to work from anywhere, be it at home or on a deserted island.”

She said that although a lot of tasks can be done from home, for work that requires physical interaction not much could be done. “For our country, the digital phase has a lot of drawbacks.”

This new culture will take time for acceptance, especially in government agencies where there are a lot of senior employees who do not know how to use Information and Communication Technology, she added.

A mother of three, Sonam Wangmo said that sometimes due to doubled work pressure with household chores and parenting, she has to pull an all-nighter to complete her office tasks. “Working from home has its own perks, as I get to spend time with my family, but the challenges outweigh the benefits.”

Against all these drawbacks some also find working from home comfortable.

Karma Chhoning Pelmo said that the advantage of working from home is the flexibility, with enough time to complete all her to-dos. “Not having to commute saves time and money.”

One of the researchers at a financial institution bank said that working from home has not been difficult for her, as her work does not require interaction. “I can call my colleagues if I have questions.”

She said that the nature of her work does not require working in an office, and she had been taking work home whenever she couldn’t complete it at the office. “I am eating healthier and saving money, as I always ended up eating in the cafeteria.”

Dechen Pelden said that the disadvantages and advantages of working from home are about equal for her, and she enjoys working from home, though her toddler will be around her around the clock.

She said that she had to be ready to move her laptop up and down, as her son is always curious about what she is doing.