Less than 10 percent of people around the globe used to work from home before the pandemic. In India, the percentage is almost insignificant. The spread of the coronavirus pandemic has turned the table around as now nearly all organizations have switched to the WFH arrangement. It is only practical and necessary method for the employees as well as the employers during this time.
Work from home has never been the preferred way of work arrangement for employers anywhere, be it before or even during the pandemic. They prefer their staff to be present physically in the office to check up on the work or give them any updates. It is a common belief that employees can misuse the opportunity of working from home and consider it a day off since there is no one to supervise them. All this eventually leads to a decline in the employee’s productivity since most people tend to procrastinate at home.
In India, poor planning and infrastructure have failed this arrangement, topped up with unstable services by the telecom service providers. Since the pandemic has left the companies with no other option, work from home became the new normalcy and a priority.
Working from home has blurred all lines between office and personal lives and has drastically affected many people’s mental health. The phrase ‘sorry, I lost my connection’ has become a common thing we hear every day during our online conferences or classes. Not only do we have to pay the extra cost of using electricity and internet throughout the day, we often lose our cool when there is a sudden power cut since it may affect our work. Our work is completely dependent on the internet and power supply, like attending online conferences and meetings on an almost daily basis. Almost every person has had some sort of inconvenience regarding this, whether it be being disconnected during an important call or not be able to meet a deadline due to internet issues.
People are expected to maintain a healthy balance between their work and family. Still, it goes without saying that when we work while living with our families, there will always be disruptions and distractions. It creates a sharp contrast with the earlier working method in an office where they could work undisturbed without any distractions. The earlier misconception that works from home meant a peaceful day off or a holiday even has lost its validity.
In fact, on May 22 this year, Google gave its company employees a day off from work (from home). This only points to the fact that this arrangement is more tiring than even a typical office day. There is a need to be constantly wired and stay connected through zoom calls and meetings, even though there is no physical interaction with their colleagues, and the only thing that motivates them is the deadline for the tasks. This type of work arrangement is slowly depleting our energy and motivation, and as a result, we often feel irritable and lethargic and find ourselves not sleeping well. Since people are always crouched over their laptops or computers, they often experience backaches and pain in the neck region.
Another aspect that makes work from home a failed arrangement in India is the lack of sufficient personal space to work in. Work from home essentially requires quiet and dedicated office space to work in, which is quite challenging in Indian households. Not only are the accommodation spaces in metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai too tiny, but it is also almost next to impossible to find some quiet time too. In quite a contrasting manner, people living alone, away from their families, feel isolated because of a lack of physical interaction, which may affect their mental health.
Without any change of physical space between home and office mode, the line between them becomes blurred, and it starts showing in their productivity. Work from home cannot bring out the same productivity and ideas that a highly interactive office environment can bring. Humans are social animals, and therefore, complete isolation or even a crowded apartment can be overwhelming and can have a negative impact on them. Yet the irony is that WFH is also the fine thread that is holding up the economy.
Edited by Aishwarya Ingle