Work-from-Home Arrangement for Teachers: Pros and Cons

Work-from-Home Arrangement for Teachers: Pros and Cons

Over the weekend, I decluttered my workstation and bought a new budget notebook – Dell Inspiron 15 3598. Until mid-April, I will be working from home. That’s capital WFH!

We, regular classroom teachers, are encouraged to make such a big decision. The entire municipality, where the school is, has been placed by the local government under a strict community quarantine, the same with Metro Manila.

It’s never a total ‘lockdown’ though. It means that the working class can anytime cross municipal and city borders for work reasons; however, such requires strict compliance with the quarantine guidelines which include wearing of masks, maintaining social distance, presenting company IDs upon passage, etc.

Still, our school management does not want to compromise the health and safety of its employees. We are laid with options and conditions, and most of us decided to work from home. Thanks to our school’s electronic Learning Management System (eLMS)! We can make it possible.

 

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Let’s get the WFH started!

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What does it mean for us teachers working from home? In a brief informal meeting with the school director before weekend, it was clarified that working from home translates to conducting classes, giving student activities, and attending to all learning concerns through the online platform.

Classes in the senior high school levels are expected to end in two weeks so it’s never really a big deal anymore. However, college students still have a whole grading period ahead. Then again, all teacher deliverables will be submitted through our usual email communication channel.

While many were excited (including me), others were still hesitant to sign up for it. One big reason is the technical capacity and skills that working from home demands. Speaking of technical capacity, I had a new unit purchased for the purpose. I should be thankful I had a generous sponsor for that.

PROS of Working from Home

I cannot always say that working from home is all good, just like any other work arrangements. I may have weighed out the pros and cons on my end, but let’s start off with the pros and find out whether these are the same you’ve ever thought of.

[1] Health and Safety. Crystal clear, it’s the ultimate end. Working from home ensures health and safety from COVID-19 pandemic. Commuting to work and having physical contact with coworkers in the workplace pose risk of getting infected. Yes, I may recover after infection, but being the carrier of the virus is unforgivable.

Equally, many cities and municipalities have started to implement community quarantines. Drastic measures are to be expected too. I imagine people getting pulled over at checkpoints for thermal scanning and travel purpose verifications. That must be, I should say, a big hassle!

[2] Flexible Work Schedule. Undoubtedly, working from home gives a flexible approach to complying with essential work requirements. I can wake up a little late in the morning without worrying so much about being late to school and class.

Likewise, I can also do some household chores and other personal stuff while monitoring students’ completion of online learning tasks. I can still do the work while on a comfortable mode, even with a mobile phone while still on the bed or on the couch.

[3] Cost-Cutting. Another thing, working from home does not require any work allowance as I can always prepare meals from what’s available in the fridge. I don’t have to spend for work travel fares. Bottom line, I can cut the whole month budget and save a lot.

On a regular working day, I spend PHP 24.00 for the jeepney fare, back and forth, and around PHP 150.00 for lunch. At home, I can stretch the same budget into two or three meals within the day as I do the food preparation myself.

[4] Reduced Stress. While I live independently in my pad, I should say that working from home is a perfect escape from the stress of a typical work environment. Dealing with people who have varied personalities causes stress. Everyone knows that.

Yes, I may not deal physically with the students, coworkers, and department heads and escape temporarily the daily grind of commuting to work. I can have the full control of the distractions and noise that confront productivity.

[5] Less Work Preparation. Our eLMS offers all the teaching and learning tools that both teachers and students need. I don’t have to exhaust much effort developing materials for the purpose. All I should do is just manage the tasks and deadlines, monitor student progress, and score outputs.

I don’t have to wash and iron uniforms. I can work even in loose shirts and shorts. Less work preparation translates to more time for other productive stuff.

[6] More Time for Blogging. Exactly! Over the course of my blogging, I should say that it’s time constraint that prevents me from making regular posts. I am always inspired to write. I’ve got lots of topics, but I couldn’t do the writing because there are lots of work to do. In other words, the cliché, ‘if there’s a will, there’s a way’ does not apply to me. I can’t help it.

CONS of Working from Home

There are many other pros of working from home also worth the list. I just identified a few. But there are also the cons and threats that I should watch out for. While the goal is a self-assurance that positives outweigh the negatives, let’s delve as well into the cons of the new work setup.

[1] Unreliable Internet Connection. Internet connection is always a big factor here. Admit it, our local internet connection has never ever been reliable unless we pay for the premiums.

Sending large-sized files may take time, and communications may be hampered. Not everyone has prepared for this setup, and so the internet connection. I haven’t prepared for this, too.

[2] Divided Attention. While there are no prying eyes to monitor work productivity, others may end up wasting time with Netflix or social media. In school, everybody is compelled to follow the norms of being in the classroom right on time, doing meaningful interactions with the students, and strictly adhering to set schedules.

At home, work flexibility may equate to less productivity if not addressed. I can multitask, the same as everyone else does. I don’t see anything wrong with taking an hour break or a two for a movie or a mobile game. Discipline is always the key.

[3] Communication Barriers. Face-to-face interaction is entirely different from the virtual one. While there are many other expressive outlets in the former that serve as reinforcers to understanding, the latter requires more from both parties. Students may end up asking too many questions related to instructions and tasks. Teachers are demanded more words to type, clarifications to make, and more people to get involved.

Yes, continuous chat threads can really be tiring. In the end, communications may be a big challenge for everyone else, unless taken much time with critical consideration of the many aspects.

[4] More Scrutiny of Student Outputs. On our end, we teachers are demanded more scrutiny of students’ performance and outputs. Beyond supervision, students become tempted to cheat, plagiarize, and even share answers in their private group chats.

Opening of other browser tabs while taking online assessments can be difficult to trace and monitor. Knowing these, we should always weigh in with the informed grading decisions. That’s one of the biggest challenges!

[5] More Patience and Considerations Required. Slow internet connection on both ends (teachers and students), students’ appeals for reconsiderations and deadline extensions, inevitable questions and concerns, and many others require more patience than the typical classroom setup.

I must put myself in the shoes of my students. At home, my attention is divided and so that of my students. I don’t know exactly whether they do have small family businesses to help run on days without classes. I don’t know whether they do have younger siblings who are always around to annoy them. I should then be more considerate.

[6] Increased Household Expenses. While working from home leads to work allowance cut, household costs may increase. With me working for many hours at home means increased food consumptions and utility expenses. Electrical and water bills will get higher. That’s expected.

Conclusion

So, what’s the big conclusion? While WFH may work well for me with all those hassles ready to address, I don’t think it will also work for all. Well, no one size fits all. We all have different work routines and practices.

In times of national (global, rather) public health and other states of emergencies, we should learn to adjust with new work arrangements, otherwise suffer and sacrifice. We are all economic beings. It’s given.

If working from home promises the same productivity and compensation, hence a win-win situation, then go for it. Take it as an opportunity, not as a dilemma. That’s a cent. Stay safe!