Six months into Covid, and our world has changed in ways, we cannot even comprehend at so many levels. Massive changes in the way we work are becoming our reality. People are predicting the new normal – Work From Home, is here to stay. While it was a norm pre covid too – it was done in certain areas and was an option one could choose for a few days a week or month. It would sound exciting when someone said, ‘I’m working from home this week or today’. The joy of taking things at leisure, not having to hit the road on time to ensure a faster commute to work, enjoying a power nap in the day, spending time with family and working amidst all this. Thanks to the pandemic, the once great feeling, has become an overdose today!
Businesses, education systems and organizations have been quick to adapt, no matter how painful, to ensure work goes on in these times by putting in place a WFH system. While the pandemic seems to surge through countries and communities in big and small waves, social distancing and masks are here to stay – for some time.
When the pandemic is behind us –
- Will you still wear masks, wash hands as frequently, avoid meeting in large groups, follow social distancing?
- Will public transportation continue to ferry people only at 50%?
- Will flights sell only alternate seats?
- Will cinema halls continue to be shut?
- Will schools and colleges still be online only?
- Will weddings in India have only 50 people?
Then why on earth will you not go back to your workplace, when Covid is over?
As the world started to unlock in phases, people began to go out and get necessities, meet loved ones, go out for a walk, travel for work and for leisure, cafes and restaurants are quite packed, from Dalgona coffees made at home, social media statuses are now showing check-in’s at resorts and other places, as the travel bug is making its effect felt, from empty streets and no signals, to packed roads with honking…and some people still feel WFH is here to stay? Why?
A recent Sunday article in TOI speaks about Covid Somnia – a new condition that is making work from home an increasingly anxiety filled experience.
Here is why I strongly feel WFH will not be a norm. It will end as the pandemic ends too. For hundreds of years we have followed a routine of leaving home each day, going to work and returning at the end of the day. A larger part of our days have been always spent amidst people, our teams and colleagues who are all working together.
Here are some WFH snarls that tell you more. 5 reasons why WFH cannot be the norm for long.
Thanks to the pandemic and the WFH that has come with it – more and more people I connect with tell me how they no longer have any schedule – for sleep, workout, family time or personal time. Work has taken precedence over everything. Calls and mails bomb your day at erratic hours and you are expected to respond immediately!
No matter how much we try to work form home and tell ourselves this is how it is going to be, let’s face it – home is not office, and environment is stronger than will power. You can make it a space to work temporarily, but not as a routine. It does not provide a clear space that is conducive to be at our productive best and fully focused on work. In between calls, we are tending to home chores like laundry, making preparations for the next meal, ordering groceries, attending to family members who need us and so on. Our mind is never completely shut off from work at home, and this occupies a sizeable part of our window of focus. In most cases, not having a clearly demarcated work area at home with a comfortable chair and desk are pushing people to work from couches, beds and balcony chairs.
Change of place and environment help your mind focus better at each place – home and office. This transition is very important for us to tell our minds to unwind and unplug from work or vice versa. When we get dressed and leave home each day, it is a signal to the mind to prep up for doing work and it begins to think, process and find solutions to get things done. When you leave from office to return home, your mind is ready to relax and mark an end to the work day, allowing space for relaxation, family time and rest.
While the world meets online to connect with teams, nothing can replace the importance of being together at office, trouble shooting and brainstorming with colleagues. Human interaction and presence at work makes it easier for the organization to have a pulse on the happiness quotient of their teams, speeds up the rate of getting things done and reduces instances of missing in action team members who sometimes get logged out due to power outages, connectivity issues or just loss of connection with the main teams.
This is soon becoming a big concern by the day to manage across organizations as teams complain of high anxiety and stress levels. Job insecurity, added responsibilities on the home front, inability to get space to work independently and the growing fear around the pandemic itself and an uncertain future are good enough reasons to directly impact the quality of their work. Team and individual coaching, access to counsellors and many such facilities that are available at the work place will prove to be a great relief to tackle issues around mental health.
The human capacity to adapt and thrive through any situation makes us the most superior living being, but let’s not forget we are all equally wired to go back to our ways when the threat is over. While WFH is a brilliant move in these times, to save the economies from hitting rock bottom and bringing life to a standstill, we can clearly see how as the world unlocks each day, slowly and steadily we are all going back to living our lives. And soon, we will go back to work too, just like we did before the pandemic.
Yet another interesting article by Goutam Das, National Editor at Mint writes about The Growing Fatigue With Work From Home.
These articles filled with insights that come from meticulous observation and study, further strengthen my view of ‘Work From Home seems like a charm for a bit, but is certainly not a long run hit’.
The Giving Tree