Author: Manoj Joshi
The last year has been impactful in people's lives in a plethora of manner. It made several of us see, do, and say things that we had never thought of, both good and not so good. Every section of society has been influenced by the pandemic; the focus of this article will be on the working class. When the lockdown was imposed, all the businesses had to find ways by which they could prevent the loss that was associated with the shut offices. So many theories were proposed by the social activists and it is in between that time only that the term WFH- Work from Home became popular. It means being able to wake up, grab the computer and complete the office work while sitting on your bed or anywhere in your home, without even changing the pajamas.
This is a self-explanatory term. Making your home the new office so that the economy of the house doesn't get affected due to the prevalent condition is the sole idea behind it. All it required was a secluded space at home with good connectivity. Thanks to the major players in the telecom industry and also to the ever-evolving technologies like Skype, Facetime, Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts, authenticator apps, and cloud computing- not to mention texting and email- due to which connectivity is not a major issue.
The response that employees gave on having work from anywhere was spellbound. What could be better than staying at home and not following any schedule for doing the work? One could work from bed, can take calls and meetings without getting well dressed, can have breakfast or any other meal while doing the office work, can take care of the pets, children, and parents simultaneously. Life seemed very happening and cozy.
However, as much as easy it sounds, the concept of Working from home has a lot of complications associated with it, which come into the picture in a long run. Let's try to count the challenges that are associated with remote work location:
Working from home means there are no set working hours, which indirectly means that one is always on the job. The advent of computers, mobile phones and internet has made it difficult for the employee to disconnect themselves from the work. As mobile phones are always at arm's length, staying connected all the time can lead to degrading health and increase stress. Research conducted found that 68% of millennials feel pressured to be "always-on", and prefer working from the office during business hours as it helps to clearly define the time that they need to commit to their work.
A human is a social animal and cannot survive without interaction. When in the office, we get to meet other people and this motivates us to do the task. There is a sense of association that develops. WFH means that one is always at home, which leads to a feeling of isolation and detachment from the social world. Whatever interaction that happens in such a situation, either by text or mails, is related to work only. There is no personal communication involved due to which we tend to feel detached. The human need to speak to other humans which does not very much happen in this case. One eventually starts to crave for the face to face interaction.
Psychology claims that after reaching home, the bed should be the most comforting place in the house because it is needed to reinforce the emotions for the next day. In a normal setting, we leave the bed in the morning difference between the workplace and a place for rest. Market research shows that 80% of the telecommunication professionals work from their beds, leaving no difference between workstation and restful corner at home. Harvard research shows that keeping computers or other gadgets in your bedroom can create disturbance in your sleep patterns and worsens the mental association between the bedroom and sleep.
When the home is the workplace, one feels tempted to do chores done in the middle of the workday or even put on Netflix to kill the silence. Such disturbance can lead to weekend focus and reduce the quality of the work. And to make up for the lost time, one feels pressurized to work inconsistently and chaotically, which eventually leads to burnout.
This is especially in the case in which the individual is in the formative years of his career. He learns new things from his colleagues and seniors, be it behaving in a formal setting, being punctual, meeting the deadline to work-related skills. In a setting where there is no one around, the development that needs to happen to a newbie is affected. At home, he can learn whatever resources he has, while in the office he could thrive in the presence of experienced fellows. So we can understand that while in the current situation, remote work could protect us from the ill effects of this virus, it certainly has some long-run impacts. Maybe it is not for everyone, and it all depends on how one responds to different types of work environments. The "one size fits all" concept just does not exist. So, any employee that works from home needs to understand the responsibility that comes with it and in some cases, one needs to be more productive to alleviate the employer from feeling whether one is doing any work or not.
WFH is not bad as long as one takes the health and individual needs into consideration to figure out what is best for him or her.