On being grateful for being employed amid the pandemic

⏳4 minute read

When the government announced that the country will be on lockdown, I felt excited.


Zein Tolentino

Published on April 30, 2020
Zein is the chief product officer of Workbean. She has a pathological desire to create beautiful experiences while bopping to hype music and singing the lyrics wrong.

Don’t get me wrong. My heart goes out to the essential workers and medical frontliners who are risking their lives to save the world every day and I will be eternally grateful for their sacrifice. 

Since the quarantine started, our co-founder, Neil, has constantly reminded us to hang on for brighter days ahead even though it might take a while before we can all work together in one place. But as an introverted product geek, I knew right away that I would thrive in the newly-mandated remote work setup.

As a creative, inspiration hits me at the most unusual of times, and with our company’s flexible work schedule, I can just start hammering out ideas even in the middle of the night and just create prototypes as much as I can. As a Muslim practicing Ramadan in this season, I can also finally get into my prayers five times a day and feel less fatigued. 

Lately, we have seen various articles talking about how companies should step up to address the COVID-19 crisis and how leaders should be more compassionate. But how about employees? How do we contribute to the success of the companies we’re working for? When the dust settles, we are the ones who will be at the front lines in re-establishing our company. 

Employees are the heart of every company. We are the building blocks of our companies so we must make sure to thrive and not just survive in this seemingly hellish season. As I reflected on the last five weeks of my new work life, I made a list of how we can step up to help our employers, too. 

Be your own boss

Discipline is key. Companies are worried about their employees working from home because of the lack of supervision and they can’t guarantee that you’re doing what you’re paid to do. We all hate being micromanaged but if we’re able to show that we can deliver our output within the expected timeframe, we can earn our leader’s trust. Manage your time purposefully and set out a specific time for focused work and you will be able to balance your remote working schedule better.  

Be transparent

There’s no way we can showcase how productive our day has been until the output is released. Being transparent about the status of your work by using productivity tools like Trello, Asana or Notion can help keep your team informed about where you are right now. If you experience any blockers, ask for help! Collective thinking might be the key to making your work more efficient. Even if you are working alone in your room, remember that you have colleagues whom you can count on. Which leads me to my third point…

Be communicative 

Just because you’re at the comfort of your home doesn’t mean you’ve become a recluse. This is the time where communication has become the most important social currency in building trust and confidence. Since we don’t see our colleagues face to face, it’s easier to misinterpret a lot of things so find ways to effectively communicate your thoughts and suggestions to make remote work a harmonious environment. Talk to your co-workers about work, current events, and even just plain stupidly funny stuff. It’s still important to build rapport with your team so that when this is all over and we can finally be back in the office, things won’t feel awkward.

Be positive 

Okay, not COVID positive! Every cloud has a silver lining. If you have a job right now, be grateful for it and maintain a positive attitude towards work. Negativity at this time may result in your mind spiralling out of control and that might have very serious consequences to your mental wellness. Every day, try to list at least 10 things that you are blessed to still have. It’s a blessing to have an internet connection, a Netflix subscription, a work laptop, and food on the table – plus being able to read this article *wink wonk.*

Be a good example of your company’s values

We strongly advocated for leaders to be the first ones to demonstrate their company’s core values in responding to the COVID-19 crisis, and it’s only natural that employees will follow suit. As we ease into the new norm, away from our work desks and colleagues, our company culture and values should stay with us as we perform our duties. As a Workbean employee, we keep our values close to our hearts in the way we talk, act, and collaborate. 

In a time where uncertainty looms, those of us who are employed are extremely fortunate to not only keep our jobs but to also prosper at this time. There seems to be a lack of discussion on gratitude at the time of coronavirus among those of us who are still gainfully employed. I wrote this to encourage my fellow employees to realize how incredibly fortunate we are to still be here and to share with you how we can thrive and not just survive in The New Norm™.

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