On time versus out of time

Time is precious

The pandemic has changed and influenced our work schedule. While most are back to the daily huddle of being physically present at the office, such as in my case, a lot of companies have implemented the hybrid work set up – a combination of stay at home or telecommuting and working on site. Of course, this is entirely dependent on the industry or type of business your company is in but given the challenges of the new normal – health and safety protocols and varying travel restrictions per city – are you able to clock in at work on time, and consistently? Or fixing your schedule is a breeze thus running out of time on tasks or catching up on deadlines were never problematic?

If you answered to the negative, don’t worry you’re not alone. Even for those working at home, it’s a struggle juggling between having to sit on the work table undisturbed and squeezing in time for ignorable household chores, like making the bed or bringing your used coffee mug and dishes to the kitchen.

It’s been a year with my new company! And when I started, I promised myself that I’ll come to work early even when the pandemic wouldn’t let me. A commitment that has been my dilemma as well because, for the past 12 months, it was tough and even tougher when I asked the teams I manage to do the same. But I’m glad and proud I did.

I’d like to believe that I can change Filipino time to be always on time, on my terms. In the years that I’ve been working, I’d do my best to beat the clock – one because I’d like to be the first one in the office, two because I respect the time of others I work with, three because I’m compensated to stick to the schedule regardless of the position I held, four because there’s less pressure when you have more time to work on deadlines, and lastly, five because I’d like to leave the office on time as well.

I was met with resistance when I asked my department that I’d like them to come to work at least 15 minutes before the schedule. That extra 15 minutes is unpaid, I can understand. What I don’t understand is when you clock in and spend more than 15 minutes eating missed breakfast, fixing makeup or taking time in the restroom, gossiping from one desk to another, or browsing the web for random things. It’s even worst when you’re late and still have the same routine. I told them, I may not be able to totally change their individual habits, but I’d like to change how to make effective use of everyone’s time. It’s a choice between being on time and running out of time. Of being able to focus on the tasks at hand versus getting overwhelmed with deadlines because much was spent on tardiness.

It wasn’t easy, no thanks to the global pandemic affecting almost everyone – losing loved ones and leaving us stressed and anxious about what’s ahead – but I thought I won’t let this pandemic win every game, especially time being our most precious investment. To prevent this pandemic from robbing us of precious time is to get fully vaccinated, observe health and safety protocols, exercise and eat a healthy diet, and encourage others to do the same.

I myself struggled to keep the time commitment for the past several months. We have a family car but when I don’t have a driver (I don’t drive) I commute to work. I’m two hours away from my office but that time is doubled with the problematic public commute system. Add to the difficulty during the rainy season the heavily flooded roads and lack of available public transportation. I remember braving one rainy night after work, taking the congested MRT, buying a pair of slippers in an almost deserted supermarket, and stepping in the muddy flood. There’s no cab and the buses are full with passengers already standing. I didn’t have much of a choice, but I survived, I got home before midnight. I know my misadventure is nothing compared to others, but will I do it again all in the name of work? Of course, again it’s a commitment.

It’s easier to quit, especially now that it can be somewhat justified with the pandemic. Why not stay at home where it’s safe and you won’t waste time traveling to the office. I’d be a fool to say I didn’t want remote work given that I had a short stint with a startup but I wanted to work where the action is. And quitting or pausing now, while convenient, will not help get me back my traction.

Fast forward to the present and I’m proud to have influenced not only my team but others we work with, to be on time. It has nothing to do with perfect attendance, that’s not the aim, no. It’s being conscious of time spent for personal activities and the time dedicated to actual tasks being accomplished. We may not be always on time given our challenging situations, but the effort is of course very much appreciated and will bring with it an increase in overall productivity.

We’re really left with no choice but to be mindful of how much time we spend at work and the time we focus on our well-being.


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