The coronavirus crisis and the efforts at flattening the curve has introduced various changes in life- personal and professional. Work from is new reality for many. Suddenly, Zoom meetings are as important as the morning coffee. Home is the new office. People are facing challenges – Change, Technology, dividing living space and work space, keeping up the spirit in this new work from home style. But slowly getting used to it- another new normal.
The crisis has proven that employees can work from home, eliminating the need for commercial office space. The current crisis is indeed a near universal test case for technology-based remote working, and businesses worldwide will learn an enormous number of lessons on how to effectively communicate with employees, clients and partners at a distance. They will learn how to manage different employee tasks and project phases, advancing complex projects without direct interaction.
There are some positives of work from home – less noise and air pollution, less use of electricity and saving travelling time besides being safe from the threat of infection. But there are negatives too. Several Indian companies are not built to adapt work-from-home policy, mainly because of their infrastructural costs. A large number of employees don’t have proper workstations at their homes. Employees who work-from-home have a higher chance of domestic distraction lowering their work performance. Some might have to engage with their families, leading to errors in work. Further, the lockdown left companies scrambling to provide resources to their employees. The benefits of human interaction cannot be overstated, and it turns out that this might well be the single greatest advantage of a shared workspace. Beyond simple collaboration and the resulting creativity, there is a mental health benefit that comes from gathering with fellow team members, and at least some stress from the isolation of working remotely. But necessity is the mother of invention and innovation. New cost effective models are being made to make work from home feasible. The technological tools that allow us to work and play and stay in touch remotely seem endless and companies are scrambling to adapt.
This is a time of deep uncertainty and disruption, but it is an opportunity to adapt to a new normal. Even after the coronavirus pandemic calms down, I believe we will see an increase in the use of video conferencing and become more comfortable with that type of technology. Flexible system that would allow people to work from home if needed will be normal too. It requires a lot of discipline from the employees and management. As the world focuses right now on the safety and health of employees, serving clients and helping communities, we will have to adapt, and soon, but bear this in mind: remote work is not done just with software and a computer, it’s achieved with the right monitoring systems in place, a learning curve and discipline.
But it’s here to stay, so the sooner one starts to create a corporate culture that nurtures this way of working, understand its challenges and go through the trial and error phase, the sooner one will be ready for the next chapter of what the job market and the economy will require of all of us.