6 Realities of Working from Home during COVID-19
COVID-19 is no longer just a minor bump in the road, rather it is a whole new highway. Organizations the world over have fared differently in this new reality; some have had the ground pulled from beneath the feet, for some its nothing more than a hiccup and yet others have been skyrocketed to glory (read: Zoom, Amazon). But the common underlying thread for every organization is the impetus towards redefinition—of core values, of long term strategy, and of short-term working practices. It is this last element that has almost uniformly been disrupted by the invisible virus.
Data Sources: The Economist, Gallup, Bay Area Council Survey, Clutch
Unforeseen disruption – How Work from Home has become the new Corporate CultureTechnology behemoths Facebook and Twitter recently announced a permanent shift to remote working even after the pandemic ends. Maybe this is based on a detailed analysis of the costs and benefits of remote work. Maybe this is an extension of the sympathy that leads a person to donate a billion dollars in the wake of a pandemic (read: Jack Dorsey). Almost overnight, something that was believed to be a niche has become the norm. Remote working has taken the world by storm. Executives, auditors, HR—every role that was deemed to be above this practice has succumbed to it.
Mental Health during Work from Home
In an interview with the NY Times, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella remarked,
“What does burnout look like? What does mental health look like? What does that connectivity and the community building look like? One of the things I feel is, hey, maybe we are burning some of the social capital we built up in this phase where we are all working remote. What's the measure for that?”
Large-scale layoffs and furloughs by increasing numbers of companies like Lyft, Uber, Marriott, and Boeing have triggered job security concerns in employees. Combined with pay cuts by almost all companies across the board, this has become a source of anxiety for loads of loyal employees. The Human Resource function will undoubtedly have to rethink its role in the organization and adapt to the remote working landscape.
Flexibility of Work from Home Jobs
Sources:Photo by Allie on Unsplash
Now that everyone has had a taste of remote working, incorporating it as part of the long term work schedule is on the table. The empowerment offered by the pajama in an age of suits and boots is an ecstasy for many. Not only is some degree of flexibility a booster for employee morale, but it is also a tremendous facilitator for progressive values like diversity in the workplace and environmental care. Employees are cherishing the convenience of telecommuting over the monotonous daily Uber or public travel commute. An approach that many companies are considering is to set certain fixed times or days for everyone to be present (on-call or physically) to complete the tasks that are cooperation-intensive.
Wonders of the office – A Lifestyle Work from Home can’t Match!
Steve Jobs once said,
"Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they're doing, you say 'Wow,' and soon you're cooking up all sorts of ideas."
Beanie bags, ping pong tables, vending machines, and water cooler gossip. DJ mixers if you work for Facebook in Palo Alto. Let’s face it. All of these were hallmarks of office atmospheres that allowed you to unleash your creative potential. The glorified practice of brainstorming that has given birth to myriad marketing campaigns and operational improvements was best done in the office environment. Constructive criticisms, devil’s advocacy and the endless one-uppance were why we loved those sessions. Lunch breaks in those fancy office areas used to seem almost heavenly. A safe haven for the less workaholic personalities amongst us, a getaway from the adversities of the 9 to 5. Unfortunately, all of these are now a thing of the past. In the COVID era, the prolific discussions have been replaced by repetitive confirmations of audibility that culminates in the popular “Can you hear me?” and the treasured lunch breaks have been replaced by the villainous cycles of lagging video.
Cost Savings inbound for Offices during Work from Home Protocol
Source:Brooks Kraft | Getty Images
The search for the best talent makes companies reach their arms (and budgets) out to the farthest corners of the world. The relocation packages associated with attracting these employees certainly burn a hole in the company budget. Additionally, this also lifts mobility restrictions for companies looking for the best employees. Compensation packages can also now adjust to reflect lower cost-of-living in other cities or countries. But this is just the beginning. Office lease costs or capital outlays for downright office purchases represent a valuable company resource. In the quest for marvelous architecture, the extreme includes debaucherous campuses built by the likes of Google, Apple, and Facebook. Imagine if the funds freed up by no longer needing giant office spaces could be redirected towards business development.
Work-life balance – a must as you Work from Home
Source:Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash
The issue of work-life balance in the COVID-19 era is one of contention. Although employees are given more room for casual breaks, for spacing their work during the day as they see fit and for fitting in recreational activities between periods of work, many also resent the sudden outpour of juggling that is required between tasks at work, family responsibilities, and household chores. The former credit remote working for unforeseen increases in productivity and clearer headspaces, while the latter blame it for disrupting the flow of productive work and making peace seem like a dream. There is one thing that everyone agrees on though, that the implicit routine and structure of home activity will have to change just as much as those at the workplace have.
Final WordsIn the iconic words of Churchill, “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”. The employees can see this as a chance to justify how work from home ( or flexibility to some degree) should become a norm in the society at the expense of losing their fancy offices. Employers can benefit from lower operational costs and access to a richer pool of human resource. This is their once-in-a-century chance to optimize their biggest asset—people.
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