When the lockdown first took place, I pronounced with all the certitude for it to end at best within 15 days and along with it all the brouhaha surrounding the virus. At first weeks, then months, and now almost a year has flown by. I suppose we can safely assume for my prophecy to not have aged well at all.
Lockdown seems to be that 90s trend that never retires. It spruces itself a bit, dons new restrictions, and returns to wreak havoc all over again, in all its glory.
These endless lockdowns, however, I feel have served me well and allowed me enough time to read and be slightly wiser than what I was before. I was particularly interested in the changes in peoples’ mindset and psychology as a result of the new Work From Home (WFH) phenomenon. Luckily, I was able to read several perspectives on the trend and wish to share the same with you.
Neither do I offer any hot takes by taking some extreme position, nor any erudite meditations on the subject matter. I simply wish to tap on the tuning fork of my observations and see who resonates. And of course! I would love conversations allowing newer perspectives to penetrate that I might have missed.
With this contextual background, here are my observations:
Working from home allows employees so much more time to spend with their families, check off those personal errands, and pursue their other interests in life without sacrificing productivity. This level of flexibility is especially important to millennial employees, many of whom regard work-life balance as a top priority when choosing a new job.
A recent article I came across in the New York Times, reported that most people would gladly trade away five minutes of any other activity for one less minute spent stuck in traffic. Traffic is stressful and people wish to avoid it under any circumstances is a hard fact. Not just is it good for the workers who choose to work remotely, but also translates into a second-order positive effect in terms of lighter traffic, reducing the stress of those employees who are unable to work from home.
Not just for employees, I find the economic benefits for companies to be immense as well. No relocation reimbursements, no travel expenses, no office rent, and allied maintenance charges that come along with it. Saving the precious cash, isn’t it?
Looks like WFH is gravy for all and everybody would have been better off only if the companies would have realized it sooner. But No! Not really. All these immediate economic benefits pale into insignificance in face of more longer-term conflicts like the mental health of employees and the innovative capabilities of a company.
Even those who are not the most passionate about their jobs find a sense of belonging, circle of friends, acquaintances, and a touchpoint to lives outside their homes. But being constantly in our homes, where the partition between the home and work life is a bit blurry, has caused days when it gets overwhelming and pangs of anxiety hits us. The daily five back-to-back zoom video calls are enough to make anyone feel disconnected and drained eventually, no matter how happy we were with the transition in the first place. Zoom Fatigue is a well-realized phenomenon.
The fatigue does not cause a mere bad hair day level of stress but impairs one’s ability to innovate. Innovation isn’t a bolt of lightning but small ideas accumulating a while via collaborations and random discussions. The probability of which is much higher when people accidentally run into each other on an everyday basis.
So, what is the optimum solution to it all? Well, like everything in life, a balancing act is the key. If working remotely helps someone then they should be allowed the flexibility to do so. Everyone’s psychology is a result of their highly subjective circumstances. For employees facing burnout or female employees on maternity leaves, the ability to work from home can help reset and rejuvenate them.
On a personal note, I was extremely overworked before the lockdown occurred. When we transitted to remote work I was able to drop in on work at any point and take short breaks whenever needed. This helped revitalize and boost my productivity manyfold. However, a prolonged phase of this makes me feel being stuck in a rut. Both opinions are valid and a reflection of my overall psyche. The same holds for all.
Everyone is completely reasonable in their opinion on the phenomenon. Boredom is a result of a mundane routine that can occur anywhere irrespective of the location. Hence, in my reckoning, working from home intermittently can serve both the employees and companies alike.
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