With the work from home almost a carol now, thanks to efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus, many corporates including my fiancée find themselves on a learning curve.
There are certain structures, spatial and psychological, that underlie work. It is these structures that instil the discipline in a workforce that is necessary for it to work in alignment with stated organizational objectives and meet deadlines. Even in a work from home scenario, the psychological dynamics of work will usually be present, serving as a pointed goad to spur remote working employees to stick to deadlines.
However, lack of spatial centralization can throw things out of whack if nothing to done to counterbalance it. At this hour, when the world is seeking to check the spread of COVID 19 work from home became a chant. And there should be innumerable cases of teams pitchforked into a remote working arrangement.
In Hyderabad with my working fiancée as a corporate trainer & life, the coach shares the experience of learning and development are highly collaborative pursuits, and our apprehension about going entirely remote was rooted in that consideration. It did not take long for us to realize that we had overestimated the complexity. She shares her insights on how teams throwing themselves in a deep end by going fully remote can cope with the challenges. There should be a preset time when all times would be logged in at 10:00 am to 5 pm so it’s like creating a parallel work schedule one that promotes interaction and collaboration as if the office had not shifted at all to the employees living room. She believes that there should be over communication on the part of team members when a team is just getting into remote working.
The team members should communicate and volunteer information about what she is doing as a team manager. On her side, the manager or the team leader should clearly lay down the objectives and key results, and let every team member know what is expected from them, and let them do without needless micromanaging. The manager should avoid activity-based managing and focus on objective-based managing.
She points out that there is any number of digital platforms where members of a team can connect and have a virtual meeting room, and having a virtual meeting every working day is the indispensable way of creating a sense of being in an office environment. She believes there has to external and striking evidence that everyone treats work from home seriously, and that alone can solidify the foundation on which the arrangement stands.
Members of a team that works from home should dress the part, togged in clothes that are readily associated with work which will be noticeable when the team meets on any video and keep to timings. There is a certain sanctity to treating that time at home, as real work for which you prepare. Secondly, there should be engagement with one another, which men as team members don’t get cocooned in their work and forget that there is a team out there that works with them.
It is necessary for someone on a remote working arrangement to communicate its inherent demands to their family and that though they are home, they should be treated as if they were really far from in work from home can blunt our ability to appreciate the human side of the business; and remote working have to watch out for that.
She says this current work from home scenario arising out of efforts to check the spread of novel; coronavirus, is hardly business as usual, and therefore it is necessary to lift up one’s spirits by setting aside some time to connect with colleagues for light banter. Her attention draws attention to an initiative, lockdown diaries, where her subordinates are on video talking and making WhatsApp workgroups about the mundane aspects of life in these COVID-19 times, such as having to cook, kitchen chores for themselves and for her family, while also working from home.
Here is a thought to mull over, she says, the COVID-19 situation has forced a number of organizations to uncover the practical side of flexibility.it has made many companies realize that work from home is possible. What it needs is some deep thinking, framework, policies, protocols, and reporting guidelines to ensure that work is done seamlessly without disruptions.
In 2014, Harvard Business Review published a study conducted on two groups of call centre workers at a company, with one group working from home another commuting to the office over a period of nine months. Although the survey found that the former group was more productive and even happier, the researchers were still in favour of employees working only for one or two days a week from home. This is mainly because a perpetual state of work from home poses a host of challenges to both employees and employers.
COVID-19 could bring about a paradigm shift in workplace practices. But the issue of infrastructure like things the Indian companies almost 55 per cent are not comfortable with remote working. They neither have protocols in place nor do they have the infrastructure like strong internet or laptops which they need to give their employees who would work remotely.
Now there is something evident and some confidence that [post-COVID flexibility would become a way of life at many workplaces while the senior leaders who had never attempted to work from home are now forced to do so and they are actually finding it efficient. The flexible working hours can save anywhere between 25-3 and will bring about a mindset change in terms of how organizations are structured. The entire mindset that an employee needs to come to the office to take major decisions will be challenged. It may be early days but the COVID isolation has certainly made businesses realize that there indeed are more cost-effective ways of doing business.
Does my closing follow the putting of question mark? What are the key take ways for workers, firms, and governments? Need to understand the WFH potential of various jobs and sectors to design appropriate policies and practices for dealing with the current crisis and to plan the future transition.
For example, the government needs to design support policies for sectors and workers. A one size fits all policy will be less effective in mitigating the risk optimally. Similarly, firms need to check how they compare to other competitors in their sector. The implications for workers are also manifold in terms of productivity, training, and overall well-being. These developments will have a long-lasting impact and will require close monitoring for informed decision-making.
One of the hardest parts of working from home is keeping yourself motivated and disciplined without anyone there to supervise you. You’ll need to resist the urge to cut corners just because you can. Keep your eyes on the prize!