Returning to school and the workplace

By Ahmed Wafi

Back to the future!

By the beginning of December, more and more children will be heading back to school after nearly two years away, studying from home, experiencing classes online and living in the true sense of the once ‘new’ normal that looks to slowly be fading away as we return to the B.C (before COVID) way of life.

As of the time of writing, Malaysia was among the fastest in the world to roll out vaccines to teenagers ensuring that school is safe as can be to give our youth a truer experience of studying and not having to live off a screen.

While children are gearing up and ready to get back to school, working professionals also look to be ready (or not!) to face the regular work life that we were once very used to.

With B.C normalcy returning, #teamGRADUAN spoke to members of the Malaysian public to hear their thoughts on returning to their old routines which have been unvisited for almost two years.

Maya, age 14, returning to school on a rotational basis
“I miss all my friends and the old way of learning. Learning online is not the same because I get distracted easily and there are a lot of distractions around me! Being back in school will definitely not be as boring as online learning. There are a lot of subjects I don’t like learning but I generally enjoy learning new things Once school reopens, I’ll be looking forward to hanging out with my friends more than anything else because we’ve completed all our exams from home and can really focus on having fun!”

Siew Ching, freelancer with kids going back to school
“As a mother sending her kids back to school, I am worried because of the virus. At their ages, social distancing is near impossible and mask-wearing isn't something they truly understand. However, I have to place my trust on their teachers to do the right things and make sure that SOPs are in place. I am happy that they are back to some sort of normalcy. Kids shouldn't be staying at home all day; they need to go out, interact and explore for their development.

“There hasn’t been that many difficulties that I’ve faced since they’re back in school apart from making sure they understand that there are certain things they need to do like wash their hands regularly and if possible, wear a mask. And because they've been at home for so long, there are a lot of tears during drop-offs no thanks to separation anxiety! However, I do have a lot more time on hand now to do my work in peace. Before I could only work when they sleep which meant a lot of late nights for me. Thankfully, now I can get my 7 to 8 hours of sleep!”

Adib, web developer returning back to the office
“I feel quite indifferent to the work arrangement because in my field of work, I can get things done regardless of whether it’s at home or in the office. What I do miss about the office though is the coffee machine and my work desk because it’s far more spacious than my home work desk. But if you were to ask me which work setting I would go for, I would definitely prefer a hybrid workplace. Both environments have pros and cons. For me, I have more privacy, peace and quiet when working at home and when I’m working in the office, exchanging of ideas with my colleagues is made simpler.”

Fatin, PR manager on returning to the office
“As much as I am very much excited to go back to the office, I am anxious knowing that the virus is everywhere. Especially having a baby and multiple COVID scares, it makes me super paranoid. What I miss most about the office though is social interaction! Communication is so much easier when we’re working in the office. At this point, I’m looking for a hybrid arrangement as it works in favour for both ways. Of course, both settings have their own pros and cons.”

From the answers we’ve seen, it’s clear that a hybrid arrangement is what all of our respondents are currently going through and despite a recent survey stating that 81% of Malaysians prefer to return to the office, many of Malaysia’s largest organisations including UOB and Maybank have adopted hybrid working cultures with many more set to implement this method in the name of better wellbeing both mentally and physically.

What do you think about the long going debate between WFH and returning to the office? Tweet us @graduan to have your voices heard!

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