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Friday, July 10, 2020

Pandemic Diaries: The Workplace

I have resumed working at the office after working from home for roughly two months during the Enhanced Community Quarantine. Being back at the office has not been easy since I have health conditions that label me as “at risk” but it is not like there is anything I can do about it at this point. With so many people losing their jobs because of this pandemic, I should be grateful that I still have a job, no matter how challenging the situation is. It's been two months since I've been back at work. So far I am OK. Apart from the occasional side-effects of stress (rashes, headaches and the like) from being outside and exposed, I am fine.


It has been difficult being at the office since — unlike most other workplaces — we do not operate on a skeletal workforce. Most offices have scheduled employees to work in a mix of a skeletal workforce, shifting and working from home. Basically, it means that 100% of the work force are not supposed to be at the office to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus. Plus, it also helps to have different sets of people working at the office at a time in the event that one employee becomes infected: if one is infected, the whole office shuts down and everyone has to go on quarantine. With different sets of employees present at a time, there would still be another set of people who can report for work while the rest are on quarantine.  Unfortunately, my boss does not seem to agree with that system, so we are all working at the office, with the exception of a pregnant co-worker who is giving birth soon.

We have been taking certain safety precautions at the office that have been recommended during safety seminars that my office mate attended (via Zoom):

  • Disinfecting Mats
  • Opening of windows several times per day for 15 minutes for proper ventilation
  • Requiring everyone (employees and visitors alike) to wear masks always. 
  • Temperature checks prior to entry. Aside from that, if the person visiting the office does not have a quarantine pass, that person is denied entry.
  • Checking of symptoms and travel details of employees
  • Taking down the names and contact details of all visitors in the event that contact tracing becomes necessary
  • Daily disinfecting of office premises
  • Employees who travel for work to areas outside of our municipality are no longer allowed to return for the day to prevent the exposure of other employees to the virus (in case they were exposed to it)
  • Vehicle disinfection done daily at the end of the day
  • Social distancing inside the office is required (although exceedingly difficult to implement when people are working together in a small space)

Despite those safety measures, I am still very worried about being at work during this pandemic. Our office may have taken some of the necessary precautions, but I am concerned that it may not be enough.

Even with precautions being taken at work, there is also the unpredictable human factor to consider. How sure am I that the people I work with take the same safety measures that I do in their personal lives? What if they go out to parties where they can be exposed to a large group of people? There has been a lot of news about people who were infected during parties, all because these people thought it would be “safe” since they are only around relatives/family. What if the people I work with think the same way?


There is also the fact that there are many other people who come in and out of our office whose activities we cannot account for either. With the news that the virus is possibly airborne and not just spread by large droplets that fall to the ground easily, being around various people becomes very risky.

Just how safe are we in the workplace? Are the safety measures we take enough to protect ourselves? Is there something else that we can do? Are our lives just a gamble at this point and we can only wish and hope for the best?

I wish I could just stay working from home. I have not been able to work well with the stress that being at the office brings. If I had a little more peace of mind, I know I would do better.

Wishing you all health, happiness, and peace of mind during this pandemic. Let us hope that vaccine saves us all soon.

Stay safe!

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