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Work From Home (WFH) is not a novel concept. For a long time, the term has been present in HR’s handbook or the company’s policy document. However, as soon as the COVID 19 pandemic caught us off-guard in March 2020, Working From Home became, what we call – “The New Normal”. Like with many other things, the pandemic has brought about unprecedented changes in our work life, and workplaces around the world are now grappling with the massive, unplanned, and exhausting experiment of employees working from home, away from office premises.
- Crédits : © Jacob Lund - AdobeStock
Over the years, Flexi-timing, comp offs, 32-hour working week, remote working has been a part of several discussions with little actual impact in the real world scenario. COVID 19 changed all that within a month. Many of us are remotely working full time, within the confines of our homes, isolated from co-workers, friends, and even family. Even people who once hated commuting to work and yearned to work from the comfort of their homes are finding this disruption to the daily living routine quite challenging. As such, anxiety, stress, the physical and mental strain has never been so rampant among a large section of the populace, as it is now.
At this juncture, taking care of our mental and emotional well-being has become more important than ever. We must also internalize the fact that social distancing does not mean social isolation. The debate around whether Work From Home works or doesn’t work has been put to rest and many companies have already proven that people and companies can work (and interview, and hire) remotely.
Many surveys had concluded that a whopping majority of people prefer to work from home and if given a choice, they are willing to continue working from home for the rest of their careers. In fact, the Global Workplace Analytics study has demonstrated that around 37% of remote employees are even prepared to take a 10% pay cut if they are allowed to work from home. In fact, it has been positively linked to higher retention and job satisfaction, saving hiring, and training cost for companies. The pandemic has shown how being remote ready is the only option to survive and thrive during times of such a global health crisis.
Moreover, several companies have reported a marked improvement in employee productivity while working from home, during this COVID imposed lockdown, with many of them taking fewer breaks and days off or quitting jobs. Statistics vary from person to person. Since it is a mass-scale experiment for the first time, firms are still trying to have a grip over the reins of the mane. This is evident from the fact that a large section of employees is complaining of dwindling work-life balance and no personal time while working from home. While many may argue that working remotely guarantees autonomy, flexibility, and freedom over schedule and work, organizations need to stick to usual working hours as much as possible and fight the temptation of putting additional pressure on their employees. If managed well, working from home can truly work and can be advantageous to both parties.
Telecommuting during COVID-19 has proved to business leaders and HR professionals who previously opposed remote working that operations can be just as productive as they were when employees used to be present in person. Though it takes time and patience to reorient employees, for many companies the work has already been done.
Remote working also has its own set of challenges. Many employees around the globe are feeling isolated and lonely for not being able to be around their coworkers amidst the pandemic. This is because of the lack of socialization, which otherwise happens in workplaces. Social isolation and loneliness may increase the risk of premature mortality, as evidenced by a varied number of credible reports.
Burnout is another vice that has emerged from this forced Work From Home, yet a staggering majority of people don’t have plans to take a break. We all are aware that separating professional and personal life is challenging when it comes to working from home. Many employees are struggling to maintain healthy boundaries and are working for much longer hours that are more often than not; unhealthy.
Several of us are feeling low, isolated, lonely, or disconnected from other people, having difficulties in staying motivated, not being able to prioritize workloads and dealing with insomnia and sleep issues. To combat these concerns, it is imperative for us to set up a fixed routine for our typical workday. Put boundaries between work time and home time, create a specific place in your home where you work, which preferably should not be your bedroom, stay connected with people around you and meet and talk to them virtually, go out of your home once in a day, pursue a hobby, exercise, eat well, and do what you love.
Remember that working from home has its own set of benefits. It gives you more time at hand, reduces distractions, reduces stress, and improves work satisfaction, provided you handle it smartly.