Make the right connection | Borneo Bulletin Online


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Aqilah Rahman

Slow internet connection and high subscription costs are among the biggest problems in e-learning and work-at-home (WFH) devices. Nearly half of people are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with internet speed, while 36% are unhappy with the cost of the subscription, according to a survey by the Brunei Computer Emergency Response Team (BruCERT) .

Of the 1,574 respondents, only 30 percent said they preferred to study or work from home (WFH). Almost two-thirds of employees in the public and private sectors prefer to work in the office, while 83 percent of students and 76 percent of educators would prefer to be in school.

Self-employed workers were split between the two agreements. The unemployed showed the strongest preference for a WFH scheme at 53 percent.

EASE OF WORK

In terms of work equipment, people are generally happy with the devices they use for work. Only five percent found the availability of work devices a challenge, and 19 percent were not satisfied with the performance of their work devices. Overall, people were happy with the availability of software and the ease of use of the technology required for the job.

Common issues with WFH and e-learning include too many distractions (55%), longer working hours (56%), inability to access work documents (53%), and lack of appropriate workspace (40%).

More than half of those surveyed spent at least eight hours online per day, with the most popular platforms being WhatsApp (91%), Zoom (73%) and Microsoft Teams (70%). Some have found it difficult to do their work from home due to the nature of their work and many have increased their spending on the Internet and on office equipment like printers and scanners.

HIGH TOC, LOW SPEED

A major source of frustration among employees is internet performance, followed by the cost of subscription and data recharging. Some are having trouble installing broadband and have used mobile data, but the signal is weak. One respondent said he had been waiting since April for his broadband to be installed, and another said his broadband application was refused because he lived in a remote area (Kampong Sungai Bunga) despite having access to the Internet. Wi-Fi in 2018.

Disconnections are common in online meetings and cause stress for employees.

ONLINE LEARNING IS NOT FOR ALL

Many students do not show up for online courses. Most students have an unstable internet connection and report that the cost of the subscription is high. Mental health is a concern and many have noticed that there appears to be a greater workload compared to learning in school.

Managing data usage is also a challenge, especially for people living in large households. Some students cannot attend classes when they are short of data.

Meanwhile, some educators have highlighted the problem of being contacted outside of working hours, especially by students who don’t have their devices and have to share with their parents working during the day. A teacher said they received texts and work submissions as late as after midnight and as early as four in the morning.

The pressure of having to prepare online courses, in addition to collecting data for superiors and having to respond to students, parents and colleagues, makes some educators feel like they are working 24/7.

“I feel like I don’t have time for myself and my family. The line between work and rest has disappeared, ”said one respondent.

Many educators have also raised concerns about long screen periods causing eye strain, headaches and migraines, aches and pains due to poor ergonomics. There is also a need to address stress management, mental health and the lack of work-life balance.

While online learning may be a viable option for older students, it is not an ideal platform for children. Some parents do their children’s work for them, while others do it without parental supervision.

LONGER WORKING HOURS

Several governments and private sector employees reported having to work more hours from home.

Some are given work assignments after office hours and on non-working days, leading to mental health and well-being issues.

Some also feel a lack of confidence from their superiors to carry out their tasks.

One employee, who alternated between working in the office and working from home, said he worked almost 14 hours a day for seven days a week, except when working in the office, which works out to around nine hours.

The Respondent logged “an average of 90 hours per week, which is 54 hours more than the amount required by contract”.

BENEFITS OF HOME WORK

Despite the challenges, many respondents also mentioned the benefits of the WFH, such as not having to travel, having flexible hours and spending more time with their families.

Staying at home also reduces the risk of getting infected or spreading COVID-19.

Some employees, who prefer to work from home, have suggested that employers consider offering WFH as an option after the pandemic.

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