Donna Zea To Rosete – Mum / Infrastructure Project Management Office Lead

Donna Zea To Rosete, 32, is an Infrastructure Project Management Office Lead for Asia with Hewlett Packard.  She has 2 daughters, aged 3 and 10-month-old.  The elder girl attends full-day childcare while the younger one is cared for by a domestic helper.

When she was in the Phillipines, she used to work 8 to 10 hours a day in the office, with the option of working from home once a week.  But since coming to Singapore, she has been working from home.

“I didn’t search specifically for flexi-work.  It was a readily available option when I started working and given that my team members are located all over the world, it didn’t make sense to always go to the office unless I wanted to,” she shares.

“I go to the office only about twice a month to meet with my Singapore team mates and to meet the client managers we support post-sales.”

Donna’s work schedule is dependent on the workload and “location” of the project.

She explains, “During peak periods I could be working 10 hours per day with 18 hours weekend work.  When I was pregnant, the company was very understanding.  So I had a lull period where I worked 3 to 5 hours a day over 5 days.  Location means working on Asian-based or international projects.  Asian-based means I work during our normal working hours while the international projects means I’ll be working in the evenings.  Nevertheless, working in the evenings is unavoidable as I need to have meetings with US counterparts and managers and we are in different time zones.”

“The good thing about my arrangement is that I can pick my girl from school and be the first she talks to about her day.  When I’m not doing any work, I can feed and take care of my baby.  But when I need to work non-stop, like weekend work where I have to wake up at 5am and work till 2am the following day, I would take my kids to my mother-in-law where they’ll stay overnight, “ she reveals.

“When you work from home, it is difficult to stick to specific work hours.  Truth is, you do not count how many hours you have worked in a day but rather how productive you are and if you have completed your tasks, “ she says.

“Working from home also means you are subjected to more distractions; immense discipline is needed to get things done, “ she points out.  What helps then, is to set realistic daily and weekly goals, she advises.

In fact, she contends that working from home may not necessarily be the best arrangement.

“It’s not the best thing as there is no clear boundary between work and personal life.  It’s challenging to keep yourself  motivated to work and you don’t develop physical, social contact with others.  It’s good that you see your children more often and that you can run errands as and when needed, but if you do not manage your time well, you will not spend quality time with your kids.  This means, yes, you are always around, but you are too busy to seriously attend to their needs, “ she highlights.

Donna admits that there are days when she feels it’s a sacrifice she’s making to go on the flexi-work scheme.

“There are days when I do feel some regrets about this choice especially when I’m not getting enough sleep, still have a household to manage and have important meetings to run.  I think I can only validate myself if this is the right decision years from now.”

WORD TO THE WISE

  1. Work from home is definitely ideal if you have very young children to raise, however, it does  mean you need help around the house.  You need someone to attend to the kids while you get work done or you’ll have to find some blocks of time where you can concentrate on work.  For me, it’s when the kids are sleeping.
  2. Make appointments in your calendar for family time.  At least for me, when a time slot is blocked out, I’ll avoid meetings altogether during that time.
  3. You have to make a conscious choice on what to prioritise for a given period of time.  Say for 1 year, your focus is your family, so you lay low on attention-demanding assignments.  You also need to agree on this with your manager so there is no misunderstanding that you are slacking off compared to when you are doing 6-hour work week.

 

For more similar stories, do check out the book “Successful Work Life Balance.” For sale at www.successfulworklifebalance.com ($20 per copy, inclusive of postal delivery).

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