The COVID 19 pandemic has caused a tectonic shift in the patterns of our working culture. WFH has unfolded a whole lot of opportunities. Ranging from conducting online classes and participating in webinars over virtual platforms, WFH has been able to unfurl new layers of meaning in the ongoing COVID pandemic. ‘Work from Home’…. Really? and not ‘Work For Home’ ? There is a lot of room for opinions and perspectives. People are also busy working for their households apart from working for their employers. This trend is here to stay for long.
The New Normal has set in and people are facing challenges to work from home, owing to the disruption in the internet connectivity. Firstly, due to the over-use of internet during the lockdown, leading to bandwidth problems and then Bad Weathers making it worse than ever, that working online came to a standstill. Initial Days of Euphoria and Enthusiasm did fare well, but gradually issues like Digital Divide started resurfacing. Companies are announcing layoffs, and declaring paycuts in one hand, and the expenditure for Internet usage is increasing on the other. This WFH culture is likely to continue even after lockdowns. So, we all got to reconfigure our home spaces into workspaces.
Furthermore, there are few negative sides also to this problem.
- Workers are not interacting with their colleagues directly. 3 people working in a team, on same project might find it difficult to communicate via phone calls to clarify small doubts. And a collaborative work is always fruitful when people are together.
- As people are always at home, not so friendly managers can exploit workers by allocating more work, often beyond the working hours.
- People might hate going to office, but there is a reason they are called “workplace”, positional structure of the chairs, desks, have severe effect on working posture, and at home, bad working posture can lead to back pains and shoulder aches.
- Interacting with colleagues, having a tea, or snacks, going for lunch with team, these are very essential for building a good team bonding, and during WFH one cannot do the above, which can have an effect on working mentality.
NASSCOM believes that in India, over 3-5 years, upto 60% of IT industry’s work and upto 40% of the ITES work could shift to a WFH model.
But as per a research conducted by GARTNER, Poor Technology and Infrastructure are the main barriers in the long-term implementation of a worldwide work from home policy.
Keeping in mind the social distancing norms and public health issues, as per Gartner survey, 229 global HR leaders on April 2, 2020 reported that almost 50% of organizations reported 81% or more of their employees are working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. Another 15% of those surveyed said 61-80% of employees are working remotely at this time. The Gartner survey showed that many workers are planning to work remotely more often in the future.
According to our observation, work from home or remote working policy can be implemented only for IT and IT enabled services. What about the education sector? Will the productivity of education remain the same with the whole system going online? The education system has changed gears and moved to an online based learning system, but how productively can it be done? What about the children who can’t afford an online class?
What about the small-scale suppliers, distributors and vendors? What happens to that supply chain? Its not possible for a supplier in a small town to set up an online distribution system or an e-commerce system for the distribution of the grocery items that she deals in.
We keep bragging about reports and data and surveys and analytics, but unfortunately most of the time we think of the global urban population. What about the farmers in a remote village who have lost their lands as an impact of a devastating flood? What about the teachers in rural schools where there is no access to internet? What about the sex worker in a city whose income is dependent on a specific physical interaction? What about the musicians in a city whose earning was based only on public performances? What about the folk minstrels who travel places, perform, and collect money? What about all those people who must go out, travel and make a living? How does the post covid world accommodate them, physically, psychologically, economically? What is their ‘Work from Home’ policy?
There are several duties and responsibilities which cannot be done from home even after having all technological facilities before you. You cannot put ointment on a paralyzed person’s injury through a Zoom/ Skype call. Yes, therein lies the problem and most of the people have been facing these problems. Hence, we would like to focus briefly on those workers who serve those belonging to the periphery, where darkness and exploitation prevail.
We are trying to talk about the Social Workers or Activists whose job is to interact with people, to listen to their problems, to support them in any situation, to provide them with the basic necessities and initial support. The field-based jobs have been completely stopped since the Day 1 of the lockdown period. Many people have suffered due to this unprecedented situation. Several helpline numbers have been set up by the Government especially for the women and children at risk but it was impossible for the workers to provide full support and care only through phone calls to the umpteen number of voices seeking help and support.
Lending hands of support to the needy is a process which cannot be executed in a day or two. So many people work day and night, run various programs for a sustainable future, for a better and sensible world. But in this situation, most of them had to put a pause to their endeavors due to this Pandemic. So, Work from home cannot be a solution for every sector of the Society.