COVID-19: Work from Home- Boon or Bane?
With COVID- Pandemic, social distancing is the new norm. A third of population around the globe is under lockdown, those with symptoms are self-isolated and others maintaining social distance. Work from home (WFH) is our new reality.
Every crisis serves as a learning opportunity for organisations, and this pandemic is proving to be quite the lesson.
Today large and small organisations are being forced to ask its employees to work from home but many of them are not technologically and mentally geared up for it.
However, Prof. Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University in his study at Ctrip found that for WFH employees the productivity increased by 13.5% apart from savings in terms of travel costs and workspace cost. Even attrition was low with WFH employees.
For IT companies, WFH had been an established practice, but for others it is a bridge to be crossed. A huge reason behind the resistance is the lack of right technology and infrastructure to support WFH. For instance, employees might not have laptops, or connectivity issues at their homes and access to other resources, they might need. Also, there is an issue of data security as well as monitoring of employees for productivity.
For many employers it is an unfamiliar experience, and there are psychological barriers around WFH. They are used to seeing their employee around where they can summon them. There is also an issue of trust, employers are resistant in handing over assets and data to the employees to take home.
A major reason for non-adoption is also a perception that WFH employees don’t work as hard as people in the office. Marissa Mayer had once banned working from home at Yahoo. Many of these fears and perception are in fact not wrong, but as Richie Norton said
“Nothing new or innovative is created without a stretch of the imagination.”
COVID-19 is a disruptor which is going to change the way organisations work. It requires only imagination to make WFH possible and is likely to become normal.
Managements need to become aware that there is now a slew of applications available, right from project management, time management, time tracking, employee monitoring, remote meeting to an entire suite of collaboration software.
Some structural changes can also be adopted in terms of business models to cater to WFH needs. Management can’t determine what individuals are doing, but giving them defined tasks and objectives is the solution. Reviewing the outcomes is the only way to be assured of the expected deliverables in this new mode of work. Above all trust is the biggest motivator.
Pros of work from home
Zero travel. No more hours wasted in travel and congested traffic snarls.
Saving on time and money. Time wasted on commute and fuel cost is saved.
Flexibility, not only in terms of time also workspace. Employees can get creative with their 8 hours as well as create workspace ambience of their preference
More time with family. Employees can have more involvement with family
Cons of Work from home
Work seems unending
It is much more difficult to set boundaries and relax when the place where you work is also a place of rest and relaxation. WFH distorts the line between work and break, resulting in a loss of creativity and focus.
Alienation from workplace developments
WFH separates an employee from other fellow employees which could lead to loneliness. In the long run it could have psychological impact on the employees. The teams want a sense of belongingness to company.
Need of the times is not to resist but to adapt and evolve. To achieve this management can keep the employees updated on the activities of the organisation. This could be done through increased messaging and connectivity through Google Hangouts, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Facetime and Skype etc.
What is the way out?
· Set a designated work area and the setup should be ergonomic also.
· Set a Routine and stick to the timetable, take regular breaks
· Set clear me-time. Employee needs to know when to step back, with clear boundaries of time employees can maintain a work-life balance.
· Set yourself up to dress the part. Dressing brings that confidence moreover one never knows he could be a part of a video call.
· Set your to do list. With the absence of office meetings, prioritisation needs to be done with To Do lists
· Set an aim to adhere to your self-created rituals Maintaining an exercise schedule and a healthy diet is again important.
Ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will definitely change the manner in which numerous organisations will work for years to come. Are you ready?