WHEN the work-from-home order was instituted a few weeks after Jamaica recorded its first case of COVID-19, many workers and businesses struggled to adapt to this new normal, as it was a novel situation for the majority of companies which had staunchly adopted the swipe card, clock in-clock out mode of operation.
But then suddenly working from home was the direction the world was heading into, and even businesses which previously claimed that they couldn't operate remotely were forced to find ways to. Also adapting were families, who not only had to juggle one or both partners turning their homes into their offices, but had to also include homeschooling their children into the mix, all this while balancing a budget that may have been affected by salary cuts.
How have women been faring during this time? Below some share how working from home has affected their budgets.
Tashauna I, HR professional:
My company cut salaries from the very beginning of the pandemic as they did not want to lay off staff, and that hit my family badly. We have a mortgage, car loan, and had just started expansion on the house. And suddenly I was 15 per cent poorer, and my husband was furloughed for 120 days without pay. We got a mortgage moratorium, and the bank agreed to waive the car loan payments for three months. We also paused the expansion. I don't even know how we have survived, but we have. The mortgage savings have gone towards the bills, and since we don't go into office, we save on gas. The kids are also out of school, so we also save on all those costs. The utility bills have remained practically the same, and we shop in wholesales for food. We've not gone broke, so I would say the budget is positively impacted, believe it or not. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that now, we watch every penny we spend, and we take whatever gifts people offer, whether it's items of food or whatever else.
Novelette H, private school teacher:
I learned to turn my hand and make fashion, as the old people say. When schools closed I had a little savings, and just one loan repaying, which I still continue to pay. What I did was start online classes, and I've been babysitting children in my community whose parents had to go back to work. If anything, I'm earning more now than I did when I was at school all day! Many parents are not sounding like they're keen to send their children back to normal school, so I'm also going to get the certification to homeschool and take on a few kids, because at this point I don't even know if going back to school full time makes sense.
Peta-Gaye P, merchandiser:
We were all put on week-on, week-off shifts, so basically I'm making half the money I usually did. To tell the truth, these days you can't just sit and moan when life veers off path. I started an online business, and the sales have been good so far. That income supplements what I lost at work, so I'm good.
Darshaun, W, supervisor:
The only reason why I'm somewhat struggling is because my boss seems to think that he should get 100 per cent performance when he cut our salaries to 75 per cent. He expects the same number of hours, and the same dedication, but that can't work, because I have bills to pay. My husband started a new sanitation business and I'm investing time in it, because that's what's bringing in the money now. The extra time at home means I have time to support the business, and it has taken off! So I would say working from home has positively affected my budget, and no way will I go back to slaving for someone full time and making in a month what we're currently making in a week.