BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — Employees working from home are putting in longer hours than before the second COVID-19 wave hit, suggests a study from the Brunei Computer Emergency Response Team (BruCERT).

The majority (56%) of 1,574 respondents said they found themselves working longer hours with a bigger workload, including students, teachers, civil servants and private sector employees.

Conducted from September 3-16, the online survey is the second of its kind after a similar study was carried out last year to understand Bruneians’ experiences of studying or working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Many teachers reported work burnout, spending more time learning and preparing online teaching materials for students while dealing with the effects of longer screen time, such as eyestrain, headaches and muscle aches.

A significant portion of civil servants also felt they are expected to work all day, with superiors assigning tasks outside of office hours and on non-working days.

“Irregular working hours have led to concerns for mental health and well-being. Some also experienced a lack of trust from their superiors to carry out their tasks. Frequent online meetings are also a source of frustration,” the report said.

Longer and “unfair” working hours were also reported among private sector employees, with respondents saying that work-life balance has decreased.

“Some companies have shorter working hours for those who are work from office compared to those who work from home,” BruCERT said.

Source: Brunei Computer Emergency Response Team

Over half of the respondents said they spent eight hours or more online each day. However, the study did not provide a breakdown of how long was spent on work and non-work activities.

Private sector employees (65%) were online for eight or more hours a day, compared to 47 percent of civil servants.

Similar to last year’s findings, only 30 percent of those polled prefer to study or work from home.

Some 83 percent of students and 76 percent of educators would rather be in school, while 65 percent of public and private sector employees favour working in the office.

Source: Brunei Computer Emergency Response Team

Unstable internet connection causes ‘unnecessary stress’

Unreliable internet connection was cited as the biggest challenge in online learning and remote working.

“The biggest area of dissatisfaction was the speed or performance of the internet connection, with 46 percent either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied,” BruCERT said.

In their comments, respondents said the unstable internet connection causes “unnecessary stress” and led to poor productivity.

“Many people get disconnected during online meetings and have voiced that the unstable internet connection is their main source of frustration and stress,” the report added.

Earlier in August, it was reported that broadband usage surged 300 percent amid Brunei’s COVID-19 outbreak.

About 36 percent of the survey participants were also unhappy with the cost of internet subscription.

Other challenges included too many distractions at home and not being able to access documents or files.

Educators have also lamented low student attendance since schools shifted to online learning on August 18.

The study added that many teachers encounter parents who complete tasks for their children.

Source: Brunei Computer Emergency Response Team

Online shopping doubled during second wave

More people are doing online shopping during the second wave, rising from 13 percent last year to 28 percent in 2021.

In terms of online activities, the study further indicated that the majority of respondents increased their use of online messaging, video calling and video streaming this year.

The most popular online platforms were WhatsApp (91%), Zoom (73%) and Microsoft Teams (70%).

Source: Brunei Computer Emergency Response Team

Survey respondents were also asked whether they take security measures to prevent cyber attacks.

While antivirus was the most common safety tool, about a third of respondents did not use antivirus software.

In addition, less than half of the survey participants said they update their software or apps.

Almost everyone (98%) surveyed had some level of concern on data security, with half of respondents extremely concerned about securing their personal and work-related data.