WFH (Work from home) is here to stay. Majority of the people have got used to the ‘comfort’ of working from anywhere concept. Some professionals have got so comfortable working from home that they do not want to get back to regular 9 to 5. The corporates have also started thinking on the lines of initiating a hybrid office culture. People come to office only when required for conferences and meetings. Routine work can be done from homes/ anywhere.
Though it has its inherent advantages, but it is raising/ likely to raise many problems too. It has further tilted the balance in favour of work in many cases and life has taken a beating.
The advantages of WFH…
WFH has many advantages, the first one being that one does not have to get up and dress in the morning and rush against time to office. An employee was spending on an average two hours commuting to and from work every day. One does not have to drive through crowded roads, which not just test the driving skills but also the patience. Employees do not have to worry about getting late to office. There is resultant saving of time, money and saves the driver from the undue stress of driving. It has given more time to the professionals with the family.
Even the offices have gained by saving huge administrative costs. Work from anywhere option gives the professional the opportunity of taking a break from the routine whenever they want. They can be travelling and still working thus able to meet personal and family needs without bothering to take formal leave.
WFH the drawbacks.…
Though the WFH has so far looked good, but it has its associated problems. The main problem is the encroachment of home space by the office. The activities of every member of the home have been restricted due to office intruding the home. The ‘me time’ or the ‘family time’ is constantly decreasing. There is hardly a break in routine which is leading to increased stress level of employees.
Imagine a spouse/ parent/ child walking in when the employee is being fired ruthlessly online by a toxic boss/ senior. While most employees are locking themselves up in their rooms for privacy during office hours but still such contingencies should be catered for. In no time a Hero may become a zero in such a situation.
The bosses/ employees should have total control on their communication skills while working from home. Every word spoken by them is being heard by the children and other family members. They cannot afford to use unparliamentary language but most of us cannot live without it too; so, the constant fear of being judged. I realized this very early in life being in a profession where anytime anywhere official messages could crop up and a response was desired. As a rule, I never made/ received official calls only in the study room (home office) and never ever in the bedroom.
The WFH denies an employee the facility of getting up anytime from his/ her chair and walking across to a colleague to discuss an issue or just taking a break. Such breaks worked wonders in cutting down the stress level and improves productivity. I find such informal interactions during office hours very refreshing. They help in not only uncluttering the mind but in loosening the limbs too.
The easy accessibility of information available in office may not be available in a work from home environment leading to delays.
The 24 X 7 availability of high-speed internet connection is a compulsion for effective functioning of office from home. While it is not much of an issue in big cities but in small towns and rural areas the speed is still found wanting. The meetings often get disturbed with breakdown of communication.
The growth prospects of some juniors may suffer due to their not getting an opportunity to work directly with their seniors and get their guidance.
Though there is a decrease in the transportation budget but there is a corresponding increase in the home electricity and snacks bill.
There has been a substantial increase in the workload of the lady of the house with all members staying at home 24 X 7. The stress increases manifold if the lady also has a professional job to handle. The resulting anger at times is expressed on the children.
People staying single have suffered more during the prolonged periods of lockdown. With no one to interact with face to face and with limited time and options for breaks the chances of getting stressed increased manifold. The ever presence threat of the virus has added to the woes.
The availability of home delivery facilities in every city has added to the convenience. People can get any item/ equipment delivered at home at the click of a mouse. But then it also deprives an opportunity to people of going out and interacting. Going out just to purchase daily needs provided the much-needed break which helped in diverting the mind.
Here are somethings I do to maintain sanity and keep stress away during WFH.
I maintained a clear distinction between the office space, bedroom, and the dining room. The work never entered the bedroom or the dining room. The workspace should be separate and preferably behind a closed door. It should give you adequate privacy and keep your office communication out of reach of the other member of the family. I understand everyone may not have the facility of a separate room for office at home. At least create a separate space within the room a little away from bed or dining table.
I cannot live without breaks and always maintain a fixed work- break schedule. There is a clean break from work during breaks. I do not ever compromise with my mealtime too. A happy satisfied meal and sleep can be only had with a peaceful mind in the company you love, and laptops and mobiles are not good company for that. Even when I am alone the mobile or laptop do not find a place on the dining table/ bed. There is no overlap between work, food, and entertainment. Sometimes it helps if one is not good in multitask handling.
My schedule always includes a dedicated time for physical activity. I walk within or around the house or up and down the stairs, but I walk and exercise every day. It keeps the mind and body fresh and agile.
I always keep time to talk with family members and stay connected with friends. During the lockdown I reconnected with people whom I had not been in touch for long.
A creative hobby is the good way to keep the mind occupied when one is alone. I give adequate time to my hobby of blogging. How so ever busy a routine I have I always find time to write. Everyone should develop a hobby. It can be singing, playing an instrument, cooking, gardening, or anything else which interests the person.
I have always treated Sunday as a holiday. A day for being at leisure. I do not keep things to be done on a Sunday. It is not a day to catch up on things missed out during weekdays. It is just a day to relax and rejuvenate. That is one of the reasons I have never suffered from Monday blues.
The working class has got used to WFH and in all probability this culture is here to stay. COVID has pushed in the cultural changes which no one ever imagined just a little more than a year back. The employer and the employee both have to accept the changes. They should work out ways to ensure that the work and productivity is not adversely affected. A well thought out and implemented hybrid work culture is the need of the time.