The pandemic seems long-forgotten with many companies going back to ‘normal’ and calling employees back. While many tech companies have chosen to continue with the work-from-home (WFH) option, non-tech companies prefer having their employees in the office, full-time or go hybrid.
I was at the housewarming party of a friend and the conversation with the guests, mostly people in their late 20s to early 40s, veered towards the economy, politics and the much-talked-about hot topic of WFH, where it took an interesting conversational turn.
While one group waxed eloquent about finally getting back to meeting their team face-to-face; the way work life ought to be and used to be, another group was vehement on the subject of WFH.
Questions were thrown at them and the WFH evangelists deflected each one of them with aplomb.
I walked out of the dinner with some interesting takeaways.
So, what tipped the balance of scales towards WFH and why?
Ditching the daily commuting grind
Many people spend 3 to 4 hours travelling to get to their place of work. Imagine how much they can get done with the extra 3 hours. It cuts out all the excuse for absence or late attendance. No blaming any tardiness on the weather, infrastructural challenges or the traffic!
3hours x 5 days x 52 weeks = 780 hours saved and in hand is worth more than gold!
780 hours can help one write a book, learn a new language, upgrade their market cap or better still work towards projects that inspire a promotion. The possibilities are immense!
Disconnecting from workplace distractions. Many in ideation, creative or strategic roles find working alone boosts their efficiency. They are able to stay focused on work and complete tasks quickly and effectively. There are no impromptu meetings one is hauled in, no unwarranted disruptions from chatty colleagues or the general buzz of the office, etc.
WFH allows for better accountability, focused work and better output.
Better work-life integration
Many employees today live in a nuclear family or are tending to their ailing/aged parents and flexi hours help. With the shortage of experienced and accessible house help, WFH allows them the flexibility to juggle their roles as parents. To be there for their kids without worrying if they had eaten or arrived home, safely. Or tend to their parents’ health requirements without the guilt of taking time off from office.
No Regional Barriers
Work from a dream location or from another state or country. It doesn’t matter. You are connected and free to work from just about anywhere without downtime.
Good for Mental Health
When one removes the stress of the commute and the constant battle of guilt between tending to domestic affairs and focusing on a career; it is an environment conducive for employee delight with better retention resulting in increased productivity.
WFH has a positive impact on savings. Less money spent on fuel, toll, impromptu lunches and lattes, no investment on the latest hi-fashion trends or even childcare. There’s a saving of approx. 30 – 40%! Imagine that!
For those concerned about carbon emissions, less commuting and no office days is akin to breathing more life into the world.
While WFH had many positive points, there is a flip side to it and it is imperative those propagating WFH are mindful of these cons:
- The importance of clocking out at the end of the day so work does not encroach in your personal life.
- On the flip side, your superior or colleagues may wonder if you’re pulling enough weight or slacking off.
- When you work remotely, your communication skills need to be sharp. You may need to over communicate to stay in the loop lest you feel ‘lost’.
- You may miss out on in-person collaboration that inspires the magic of new ideas and problem-solving.
- To be seen and heard in the right places. Hone your networking skills so you do not miss out on any key projects or the coveted promotion or raise.
- To replicate an office routine at home – regular tea breaks, check-ins for a ‘water cooler’ chat and avoid the distractions within the home.
Yes, WFH is a reality and provides you the much-needed freedom, however there is no freedom without responsibility. You only swap one for the other.
Whatever your reasons for working from home, you may have to take on the onus of being upbeat and self-motivated. No back-slapping. No high-5s. Personal connections with your team may require harder work.
On a lighter note, the only stress while dressing for work may be the choice between your beach shorts or yoga pants. Be that as it may, don’t allow work from home to swallow your home life.