Does “Work from home” really work out?

In a situation, wherein the entire world is embroiled in the fear and tension over a pandemic crisis, “work” is the one aspect of daily life that has certainly not taken a back-seat.

With major announcements from various organizations on an indefinite period of WFH ( Work from home- let’s put it in short for convenience), people are working from remote locations by resorting to “Home offices”. Despite the undercurrent of tension, boredom and stress, people are mostly making the best use of this “Home office” network so much so that maybe even after the normal life resumes, it is going to be difficult commuting to offices!!!

The purpose of this article is to share my perceived thoughts on the possible boon and bane of the WFH trend! In short my understanding on the WFH situation.

Now let us look into the positive side of things wherein we are conditioned to believe in “Half-filled water glass and the optimism”: The Advantages of WFH

Elimination of commutation to work: For most of the people , travelling to work has been a major challenge (coming from someone who had been travelling close to 62 kms up and down , until the last day before the lockdown in this part of the world!!). Right from the word go , to getting ready to setting things up to travelling to putting up the best show on any given day is definitely not less than any feat!!This has helped each one of us save time and we are directly ready to enter a work-station which is about 20 steps away ; also reduced fatigue and stress wrt commutation time helps in increased productivity

Better understanding of situations or empathy for other team members: In a situation as difficult as the lockdown, everyone seems to have increased empathy and understanding of the challenges of WFH; be it weak internet connections, low bandwidth, periodic distractions , duties that needed to be attended to such as taking care of a child ; people seem to be cutting some slack for not just themselves but also for their team-members.

Lesser micro-management and better engagement : Although some people may believe in the opposite due to incessant “dashboard” updating or reporting, in many of the situations i have come across or have heard of , due to the “empathy” factor stated above, there has been increased trust in self and the other people by managers who have reduced the need for “every 1 hour update” to ” End of the day update” (unless it is a critical change management situation); these people have increasingly benefited from this and feel highly engaged on their jobs more than ever.

Flexible working hours: The need for clocking a certain number of hours and fully updated time-sheets is definitely not taking a back-seat, but the flexibility to position one’s work timings has been possible; instead of a 9 to 5 shift on a normal work day, one is also able to do a 10 to 6 work-day or even a 9 to 7 work-day ( if one has to log out a little early on the next day due to some reason); this may not be true for every type of job but there is scope for positioning job timings wherever possible.

Strongly connected teams by leveraging technology: Yet another advantage that i have seen is the ability of virtual platforms to make one believe as though one is at one’s office although one is at home! Using a Zoom video call, one is able to participate in team meetings involving even 20 people !!

Increased upskilling and knowledge enhancement opportunities: Being in a profession where i have to encourage people to enhance their skills and acquire new ones, i also realized that personally too, the need for making use of this virtual world in the right way is an act of self-motivation; Be it webinars, workshops or lecture demonstrations, technology and self-motivation help you earn a new certificate and most importantly a new skill set! Online learning platforms are constantly reinventing themselves and are providing new learning opportunities for us to thrive in this VUCA world!!!!

Quality time spent with family : In short this is probably an opportunity for a normally busy person to be just a little more paced out to spend time with family and people at home, catch up with old friends and WhatsApp groups and make time for relationships.

Now let us go on to the challenges possibly one has to face whilst doing WFH:

Self motivation and the need to get organized: No matter how many times we speak about the need to motivate oneself and unleash the power to be your own manager in effectively following schedules, let us face the reality!!!! It is pretty challenging to derive energy and willingness to do something although you know it is pretty much part of your job description!! And , you also need to commit yourself into the same with the same level of interest and dedication without taking the atmosphere and the constraints as “Excuses” for not doing it the way you should.

Boredom and impact on quality of work: Many of us normally considered WFH to be a relaxing option wherein you tend to believe that you have a control over everything . However in this situation which is a “Holiday from going to office” , one tends to obviously miss out on meeting people in person and the whole atmosphere of finishing all the targeted activities in the ” To-Dos” list ; as much as i spoke about practicing self motivation and being your own manager in a “20 step away work station”, there is something certainly peace-inducing in the office environment as it brings out the best in you in a chaotic environment ; working alone not just produces boredom but also disrupts quality of work and the possibility of creative ideas taking shape are further postponed until further notice as we need the perfect office atmosphere to be able to implement those ideas.

Ability to be mindful of “Mindful productivity”: Mindful productivity is the ability to be productive on the job without letting individual stress and external tension-inducing factors to take the front-seat!!!! This is a common situation wherein one tends to be stressed over both the economic impact of the pandemic such as job security, pay cuts or even job-related problems such as a difficult colleague, faltering relationship with the boss and other personal issues. The external factors are dependent on the pandemic situation and the already present problems tend to be magnified by the hostility of the situation.

Unpredictable situations: Low connectivity and poor quality of bandwidth, an unexpected family situation such as a person falling sick or even the person in question are some examples wherein one has little control over what may happen in the wake of WFH and trying to constantly meet demands!!!!

There are infact many more factors that we could go on discussing on both the aspects; as much as there are two sides to every coin, there are also perspectives which define the way we adapt to a situation, our ability to survive and yet bring out the best possible outcomes to the table. Be it doing mind-maps, organizing/scheduling a day , taking self-care measures and working on oneself such as exercises, meditation, unwinding activities the list is just endless. Hence i just leave it here with food for thought on what one could do to survive this situation and fighting the odds.

Also , the story does not end here. We should consider ” what we could do to make WFH worthwhile for ourselves as well as our people”. 


Thanks for the patient reading!

P.S: This is an articulation of thoughts purely based on my experience and that of people with whom i have interacted.


Sathya Sundaresan
HR Professional &  Life Coach.