Call of duty: Missing your office space?

August 27, 2020 3:30 AM

Most employees are eager to return to their pre-pandemic routines

. As we work in silos from our homes, we more often than not find ourselves working in a disconnected manner, and focusing a little more on “me” vs. “we”. . As we work in silos from our homes, we more often than not find ourselves working in a disconnected manner, and focusing a little more on “me” vs. “we”.

By Priti Shetty

Covid-19 turned the way we live and work upside down. As we check with colleagues, it becomes evident that work from home (or as some say, living at work) may not be a sustainable option for us humans who thrive on structure and predictability, connection and collaboration. As per a recent JLL Work from Home Experience Survey, almost 82% of employees in India have shown their eagerness to go back to their offices and work. While businesses have had to go digital, this has posed a challenge for some. Even those who have mastered digital communication, have found that it does not convincingly translate passion towards a common mission and leaves much to be desired from the lens of company culture.

While organisations have done their best to invent new rituals and to leverage on technology to engage and connect employees virtually, we cannot deny the effectiveness that comes with face to face communication, reading body language, and teamwork. As we work in silos from our homes, we more often than not find ourselves working in a disconnected manner, and focusing a little more on “me” vs. “we”. Bottlenecks to simple communication, rework and excessive iterations, frustration and conflict are some of the themes we notice. Increased isolation and our hesitancy to meet, interact and return to the workplace may eventually result in unwillingness to share knowledge and compromise on team outcomes.

Impact on happiness and wellbeing
With restricted social interactions, working on our laptops for long hours or binging on online TV shows, a new screen fatigue has set in. Our homes are not designed to be a permanent office and we move furniture around to break the monotony and ensure there is adequate light and ergonomics for long working hours.
Our brains are wired for structure and predictability and most of us are accustomed to a routine that allows integration, balance. In some cases, our schedules help us thrive personally and professionally. With the extended lockdown and new norms for living this year, the lines between work and life blur further. It requires a deep sense of discipline and strong will to focus on our mental and physical wellbeing.

A balancing act for working women
Many working women continue to single-handedly carry the responsibilities of domestic chores at home and raising children. With work moving home, women have had to balance professional and personal commitments simultaneously, leading to an overwhelming sense of responsibility, distractions and burnout. Women have also been deprived of the comfort of personal space and boundaries that come from a commute to the office or physically being in the office. In order to support women staying in our workforce, returning to the office may not be a bad thing. Organisations will need to continue to support women at the workplace by investing in policies that include flexible working, work near home, sabbaticals, employee resource groups, employee assistance programmes, learning and development, part-time work, etc.

While we could not have prepared for this pandemic or predicted its effects, we can do our best to help build resilience and adapt, both at a personal and organisational level. As providers of “space as a service”, we are leading the way in ensuring the highest standards of health and safety to enable our members to return to their offices with confidence. What people crave for today is connection and constant learning, not just at a personal level but to keep businesses relevant, productive and healthy. Flexibility and agility, paired with a culture of collaboration and continuous learning is what we offer as the future of work!

The writer is Head of People, WeWork India

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