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Working from home not so great, employees find

By WANG KEJU | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-02-13 07:47

Working from home has been a romantic idea for many employees craving more flexible work arrangements and comforts. With the fantasy becoming a reality during the novel coronavirus outbreak, however, quite a few people are finding it is not really a perfect choice.

Amid the ongoing novel coronavirus epidemic, a large number of Chinese companies have ordered employees to work from home, looking to curb the spread of the epidemic as many staffers return from the Spring Festival travel rush.

Bytedance, the owner of videosharing site Douyin, has requested that employees traveling during the Lunar New Year remain at their destinations for the time being and work from home. Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba took similar steps, as did search engine provider Baidu.

"It's necessary that businesses take steps to plan for the possibility that the outbreak worsens and to protect their employees from getting infected in the workplace," said Zhang Chewei, head of the Population and Labor Economics Research Institute with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Allowing employees to work from home-even if they are not symptomatic-and enabling virtual meetings could help to limit the spread of the virus and assuage employee fears about exposure to it, he added.

On the other hand, residences filled with distractions such as spouses, parents, children or pets may create problems for people working from home.

Xia Baiqi, who works for an internet company in Beijing, was required to stay at her home in Jilin province until Feb 10.

She found her dreamlike working style a hindrance to productivity.

Her parents, who have not had much to do recently, have suddenly become so concerned about her job and have a book of questions for her. They look to chat with her more often, thinking that working from home is just an "extended holiday".

"I love my mom and dad, but their current mission is just to create added stress and strain on me," she said. "Sometimes, I have to lock myself in my own room to avoid their enthusiasm."

For people who are able to stay as productive as they would be in an office environment, some have also come across the problem of surprisingly longer working hours at home.

Working for an investment company in Shanghai, Zhang Fei said he felt that he could never escape from his job by remotely working at his home in Shandong province, which makes time management a whole lot messier.

"No longer is there a 'work' and 'no work' time. My work comes calling at all hours, which can keep me at a frenetic pace," he said, adding that with the return date drawing near, he has never felt so excited about being back in the office.



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