Corporations and authorities around the world have no other option than providing flexible working conditions including work from home.
By Sourabh Deorah
COVID-19: The novel Coronavirus changed everything overnight, the lockdown was enforced, and social distancing became the new norm. People are staying connected with friends and family through video calls and schools have started giving online classes on video conferencing apps. With the lockdown in place, more than 3 billion people, excluding the essential workers like defence and healthcare officials, have been pushed to work from home.
There is no cure for the virus, all we can do is avoid it by practicing social distancing and keeping our immunity strong. Corporations and authorities around the world have no other option than providing flexible working conditions including work from home. It is one of the biggest changes the world has ever witnessed, and it raises some important questions such as follows:
Is work from home (WFH) the new normal?
Is WFH better than working at a designated workplace?
Is it just a temporary measure or is it here to stay?
Why are companies not keen on opening right now?
Is WFH a feasible solution considering that people are complaining about the barrier between work and life disappearing almost entirely?
We must face the fact that working from home is nothing new and has been around for a while. It was not thought up at the moment when the pandemic happened, but it was already a reality. Many companies and organizations have already been practicing WFH even before the outbreak of COVID-19 which offered flexibility to their employees. There is nothing abnormal about WFH. In certain industries, just about everything can be done and managed from home, including meetings, daily tasks, scrums, follow-ups, etc.
It is not a practical option for those who are in manufacturing, hospitality, performing arts and heavy industries, WFH is a new thing for such organizations that have never had it as a part of their culture. In trying times like these, WFH is a saviour for many companies that would have otherwise shut down and cost billions of professionals their jobs. Even leading PSUs and the government sector, that previously never accepted the idea of WFH have embraced it for the greater good.
What are the benefits of Work from Home?
WFH has many benefits and is better such as:
- employees are safe from getting infected
- can practice social distancing with ease, and
- are comfortable while working.
- It is also preferred as the virus can reappear in patients who made a full recovery.
Therefore, WFH complies with the guidelines issued by WHO in terms of social distancing and kept isolated from the rest of the world. WFH has been instrumental in maintaining the social distancing norms which would have been impossible otherwise.
The only thing left that the companies should look after is the proper and efficient management of the workforce with the help of digital tools and ensuring that everyone is doing their respective tasks.
Protection of data and better communications is also something that should not be skipped over as WFH becomes a long-term alternative, companies should invest in improving data security and infrastructure.
COVID-19: Why are companies afraid of reopening workplaces?
As of now, most of the companies are afraid of reopening their offices and going back to the traditional way of working as they understand the responsibility and the risks of the virus. Even a single employee getting infected can wreak havoc in the workplace, which will spell nothing but disaster for the entire company. Organizations that have their employees working from home are taking all the possible measures to prevent the further spread of the virus. One thing is assured that when the offices reopen, everyone will be making huge changes to ensure a safe and virus-free environment in their workplaces.
While WFH may not be a replacement for the traditional way of working, it is a good way to supplement the operations of any organization. WFH may result in more productivity and is more time-efficient as it removes the need to travel to the office, which also results in more savings from the employee, WFH needs certain things to be successful. Building good communication and trust is vital as well as establishing guidelines that clarify what good work ethics are. Adaptation is the need of the hour and those showing resilience will not have trouble down the line.
While there are many benefits, health and productivity wise, to work from home right now, it also comes with its own set of challenges.
Working remotely could sometimes lead to differences between managing your own personal and professional space.
Traditionally, when you work from an office setup, the mindset is focused towards work and home chores are the least of your concerns, which might not be true in a home-setup. Also, staying inside home for long periods of time can also take a toll on one’s mental wellness. Hence it is extremely important for organizations to create a company culture in which there is a constant touch with colleagues and there is enough digital engagement happening for employees even when they are remote.
Overall, these are testing times for all of us. Organizations and individuals need to come together to build a culture that will be less disruptive and beneficial for both parties. As the world recovers from the pandemic, it is important to understand that we are venturing into uncharted waters and there are many new things to learn.
The columnist is CEO and Co-Founder at Advantage Club. Views expressed are the author’s own.