In early March when we had almost no clue of the drama that would unfold in the next month, I was glancing through the newspapers which carried articles of work from home. Many IT companies had started split operations and there were pictures of a woman chopping veggies as she sat beside her laptop and that of a man standing in his garden and taking a conference call as he watches over his kid playing. The article spoke about how this forced situation of working from home is going to open up doors to how want to revolutionise the way we work. It increases productivity as people can balance work and household chores and be more productive.
A month down the line ad everyone has moved to a 100% work from home environment. So is it really as productive as it seemed to be?
You have the comfort of working in your pyjamas, choosing your work desk on the swing or bed or the table. You can also be more flexible with the timings v/s being in office and multitask- like the lady chopping veggies as she read a mail on her laptop. But what about the downside?
We are now in a stressed situation with schools, day cares closed and no maids, nannies which puts the onus on the employees, in this case read primary caregivers. Having to manage everything right from cleaning the house, putting meals on the table, washing utensils, caring for kids and elders in the family , it is not easy to balance your work as well. I overheard a parent talk to another about how difficult work from home is proving where he and his wife have to take turns watching over and giving company to their kid who refuses to be alone or sleep by himself. Its taking a toll on work.
With many schools having started online classes for kids, one would think this would ease out the burden of parents as kids are now occupied with studies but logging on to these sessions is no child’s play. Every 45 minutes one needs to login to a new session, there is lots of classwork to be completed post the sessions and home work. Parents cannot really leave kids to deal with all of this and it doesn’t allow them as much of free time to focus on their work. Add to it the mammoth task of feeding kids 4 meals! A harried parent would know what I am talking of unless you are among those lucky few whose kid gobbles up food.
The latency issues, power cuts, internet speed is something which pulls you back . So yes work from home in this situation is far from fun, it is stressful to achieve the same results while at work. It takes more efforts and time.
My personal take is- this is the new normal and like it or not , its here to stay. We have our good and bad days, its juvenile to act that everything is perfect and we are loving each day of this new found normal. I have found talking about your not so good days helps rather than trying to keep it within and put on a facade that everything is super awesome.
What helps is keeping the chain of communication open with your team leads and team members. Knowing the instability of infrastructure, letting your team members knows about planned power cuts or a sudden IT issues that impact your ability to work, helps them plan the work better and split the load.
Trusting each other is really important now, more than ever. While its really easy to slip into a blame game, doubting when people say they are facing challenges will only ruin the work relationship and serve no purpose. Speak up if there is anything that makes you feel uncomfortable/ negative.
Its easy to slip into a mode of sitting in front of your workstation the whole day as work usually takes longer than the normal time it takes at office, but having a schedule, logging in early and planning your day helps. Also taking time off. You might wonder what do I do sitting at home the whole day, but this is here to stay so rather take some time off and spend that getting some rest, indulging in your hobbies, rather than burnout.
To be frank for a long time I did hope this will ease out, I looked at my wardrobe full of clothes, my cosmetics and shoes lying unused for almost 40 days and yearned to put them on, drive my car and go to office, meet everyone, have a cuppa at our usual hangout place and come back home exhausted but with a sense of fulfilment – as that’s what going to work has always meant to me. Slowly but firmly I am coming to terms with this new reality- of having virtual team meetings just like I did with my teams in a conference room, having chats on IM or a Skype call rather than in person but keeping the tone as frank as it was in person.
Given a choice of working from home v/s office as a long term option, I would always choose office without a doubt, but here is a situation with no choices- what do you do but make the most of what is handed out to you?
How’s your work from home experience? Liking it, hating it, come to terms with it? Do share in the comments section .