The Corona virus outbreak has triggered an anxious trial for both the healthcare system and the economy. The organizations the world over are faced with stiff challenges like fighting & containing the spread of the pandemic and to continue business and growth as usual.The only viable and recognised cure for highly contagious novel corona virus spread being the lockdown has brought in many uncertainties but has given rise to the ‘work from home’ culture.
And the question that every corporate and its employee seeks an answer to is…. Is the war against COVID 19 going to bring about a permanent change in the way work happens in future?
Work from home has always been there when it came to remote areas, financial viability and business sense, but it was always considered an exception than a rule. The organisations became more inclined for the practice ever since high-speed internet became common. However COVID-19 today has made it a compulsion for conventional businesses too that that earlier were reluctant to experimentt. To contain the spread of virus further followed by the mandatory lockdown has made all organisations however big or small to let their employees work from home. It’s forcing a digitalization for many companies and they are having to implement it at breakneck speed.
But working from home has not been easy for employees even. Workers from Asian countries with more rigid work culture have had mixed reactions to it. Some are faced with intrusive bosses who are not ready to believe their employees can be trusted to work from home; some label family members as a distraction or find it difficult to focus.
“Then there is the problem of space. Not everyone can set aside a quiet corner in their home, making it difficult to concentrate or hold remote meetings,” leading to undue irritation, and possibly family discord. Some also admitted work from home has decreased interaction with their colleagues, vital for team cohesion.
And yet some are getting used to the experience, enjoying improved productivity; some even report improved relationships.
The senior management have their own set of woes, they feel “Working from home has made supervision harder, owing to less efficient communication and employees doing personal things first and then office work”.
“When working from home, a late response from the team member or the team, makes the senior management feel out of control. During the work-from-home period, too daily meetings are hosted, just to make sure everyone is on the same page and is engaged with a task every day. However, the poor infrastructure about internet speed and connectivity can become a roadblock more than often.
So what would be the post-COVID 19 working scenario?
Both organisations and employees would admit working from home would help employers to save on sky-high office rental rates and employees sufferings of long commutes. But its hard to profess whether this mandatory home working will lead to the practice becoming more widespread in India in the long-term.
Surprisingly, the survey of an independent agency reveals that work-from-home has ranked last in the measures being implemented by the Indian organisations.
People often feel drained both physically and mentally. Now since many are working from home and have discovered it’s a way of balancing work and life, there is a fat chance of this being adopted and adapted to.
The future of work from home will also depend on the type of work and how team-oriented it is. Media and technology industries allow more flexible work schedules and are more susceptible to the possibility of granting permission to work from home. “But brick and mortar industries that need workers on-site – involving production lines, high demand for team co-ordination – will still need workers on-site and in-office premises”
Of late the 9-5 office culture had already been facing challenges as more and more companies started focusing on productivity rather than a 9-5 rulebook. And employees had a breather.
“The implementation of work-from-home technology could make the overwork culture even more acceptable,” transforming into infamous “996” culture, in which tech and start-up employees work from 9 am to 9 pm, Monday to Saturday.
The pandemic will surely change the way we work across the world. India too would not be left unaffected by the post-COVID 19 work scenario. The writing is on the wall and most organisations have seen it and are pushing themselves to adopt virtual collaboration solutions. However, the clincher as to working from home becomes a widely accepted norm would be how fast the government can develop the infrastructure to support it.
In the end, we are an ingenious race. We will surely find a way to make the business productive and come out stronger and more ready for the challenges that the world may throw at us in the future.