WFH is an abbreviation used to denote work or working from home
Never in recorded history has this phrase been used as much, as now. Before Corona (B.C), it was a choice. For many, even a luxury. Now, it is a necessity. It’s now or never. If you do not act now, you may not be in a position to work, which could, in turn impact your home. As alarmist as it may sound, there is no alternative at the moment.
It is critical for companies to direct as many employees as possible, if not all, to work from home. This is new for most companies in India. Very few have practiced this here. There is apprehension that employees won’t be productive from home; they may while away their time or get distracted. This is new for employees too. There may not be any structured work convention which could serve as precedence. Every employee working from home will have to follow discipline and act with responsibility. Not every home will provide a conducive environment to work. The process will have to evolve once put into practice and hopefully, individuals will soon learn to do this efficiently.
Once employees have mastered the technique of WFH, it may open up the way companies look at it in the future. Employee productivity could go up. Travel time to and from work will be eliminated, saving man hours manifold. Employees could be more at ease, less irritable. Negotiating traffic if you are driving or riding to work is never easy. Commuting by public transport is tedious and again depends on external factors and surroundings. On your way to work, you could be witness to unruly behaviour, rash driving and other extraneous factors which are likely to affect your temperament. It is not easy to completely sweep it out of your mind and start focusing on the job once you reach office. You could encounter the same or other disturbing factors on your way back home from office, which is bound to affect your temperament when you reach home, leading to arguments. Consequently, it stands to disturb the peace at home.
Imagine not having to worry about any of this at all. You are in a much better mental space at home, if you don’t step out. You are physically less exhausted if you don’t have to travel long distances. Sure, there could be issues at home but those issues existed even earlier when you went to work at office. It may take sometime for the employee’s family to get used to the fact that he or she is working from home and therefore needs to be left undisturbed. Till then, there could be teething issues trying to focus on WFH.
There are huge economic and societal benefits too. WFH will reduce fuel consumption. There will be fewer vehicles on the road. Environmental pollution will reduce. The benefits extend not just to the individual and company but also the community and the world at large. The overall quality of life will improve once you breathe cleaner air. There will be lesser chances of illness owing to air and traffic pollution. Once the long-term economic, environmental and psychological benefits are felt, Governments may well advise companies to consider this, even after Corona (A.C) is behind us.
Look at the compounding benefits of mass WFH from the organisational point of view. This will enable curtailing costs by rationalising real estate requirements. Keep only the bare minimum required at work, if you must. Let everyone else work from home. Real estate is costly, so it will help bring down operating costs significantly. Not just real estate, other ancillary costs like fleet expenses could come down if there are lesser employees commuting to work. Electricity charges, and other administrative costs will reduce. Companies can do a cost-benefit analysis to gauge the long-term benefits of employees working from home.
There will be many who would argue that WFH is not such a good idea. What is the biggest concern of employers when it comes to their employees working from home? PRODUCTIVITY. Will the employees be able to focus on work without getting distracted? Physical monitoring by supervisors or managers may not be possible. One can never be sure how much time an employee spends on work at home. Some amount of data can be sourced from your digital footprint but it may not be the same kind of surveillance possible in the office.
So how does one deal with this? TRUST. Companies have to trust their employees to deliver with diligence. There will be exceptions of truancy. Those with delinquent tendencies will exhibit those traits be it in office or at home. But if the vast majority can work at home with single-minded focus and sincerity, it is well worth considering to permanently switch to such a practice. Whichever way you look at it – from the perspective of the organisation, individual or the community at large, everyone stands to gain.
Not everything will be hunky dory. WFH will have some pitfalls. As long as the pros outweigh the cons and the quality of living improves, WFH is well worth considering. The future ecological benefits for Planet Earth must be kept in mind. Governments will have to play a key role in advising companies to think of the greater good while taking a long-term decision on WFH. It may not be an easy call. Organisations should view it with an open mind. For those wary of employee productivity and sincerity while working from home, try this simple, four word mantra – you gotta have faith.