What is work from home (WFH)?
Working from home (WFH – the most common term in the UK), also called telecommuting telework, teleworking, mobile work, remote work, and the flexible workplace is a work arrangement in which employees do not commute or travel (e.g. by bus, bicycle or car, etc.) to a central place of work, such as an office building, warehouse, or store. A person who telecommutes is known as a “telecommuter”, “teleworker”, and sometimes as a “home-sourced”, or “work-at-home” employee. A telecommuter is also called a “telecommuting specialist”, as a designation and in a professional context.
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HISTORY OF WORK FROM HOME
Work from home isn’t nearly as recently as many think. It all started from the hunter-gatherers when they hunted animals for food and made fashioned clothing for coverage at their homes. From there to the medieval period where people had set up crafts and trade-focused shops in their homes, work from home emerged drastically. In the medieval period, most of the peoples’ houses were a combination of kitchen, spinning and weaving works, bedroom, dairy etc…
As the days passed, merchants and craftspeople before the industrial revolution created home offices. After the industrial revolution, workers were pulled out of their houses to join for factory work and gradually work from home reduced during that time of history. By the beginning of the 20 th century, many modern offices took shape for workspace. The invention of communication tools like the telephone, fax etc… made this easier.
Now, the outbreak of the coronavirus forced business everywhere with a remote workspace to keep the employees safe from the pandemic. On a larger scale, work from home had reduced a good amount of pollution caused by vehicles, factories and industries and saved a lot of money which is spent on fuel by the employees and workers.
Despite the disadvantages, many enjoy WFH. The coronavirus breakout showed no mercy and had devasting impacts upon the migrant workers who didn’t have a choice of working from home, unlike other employees. Labour force was forced to quit their jobs and didn’t have income. More than 50% of their income has been cut off and, in most cases, their weekly income had become “zero”.
PROS AND CONS FROM THE WORKERS PERSPECTIVE OF WORK FROM HOME
From the perspectives of professional workers, most of them enjoy work from home due to the flexibility of working hours and not having to commute gives them extra time to improve and increase productivity. These are the three main benefits experienced by the workers with WFH. Some people even felt that they are spending more time than before with their family or loved-ones compared when they are in office. For people, who are especially living in polluted cities, WFH is a great relief.
The remote office or work from home helps them to be independent, explore new software and technologies and being more productive. Most of the professionals feel it is far more comfortable to work from home in jumpsuits without doing their hair or put makeup and sitting in a comfy chair rather than wearing a suit or blazer in offices. When working from home, people can have fresh home food with family and there won’t be a need for lunch box or packed food. Professionals who are homemakers can take care of their kids and families better from home while working at the same time. Of course, no office politics and no more annoying co-workers. Professionals can also work from wherever they are comfortable. Nice weather and a lovely garden and a quiet place for example. Due to these many flexible opportunities to work, more people agree that WFH is better than working from the office. They can work and do their laundry or cook simultaneously and can have better control of their balance towards life.
But on the hidden side, distraction is at its highest performance, while working from home which can be very toxic during working hours. Casual social interactions are cut off in pandemic which can be very disturbing for many and brings their spirits down over time. Reduced face- to- face interactions among colleagues. Adapting to these new routines, like working overnight pulls the employees out of their comfort zones and increase their stress levels. There are cases where internet and power supply induced stress had also added to their
PERSPECTIVES ON WORKING FROM HOME
work pressure, who have a weak Wi-Fi connection and lost contact with the meetings of co-officers. During this pandemic, many people lost their jobs and the people who are working from home had to take extra workload and stress to balance their work. They have to wait until the other person to get in contact with them to approve something or to work together for a group project, resulting in impatience and ruins social interactions and increases anger.
Some of the professionals have children at home, who seek their attention and they couldn’t be available and need to make their children understand that they are not on leave and are still working. For professional workers like HRs, most of the work is on paper. Checking and signing the legal documents is tough from home. Staying at home and working means you will have to help out people at home with the household chores, which is not necessary when at the office, can lead to multi-tasking and becomes counter-productive with work.
When professionals who are also homemakers, work from the office, they can have fixed working hours, but due to WFH, there is no relaxation and people tend to procrastinate and are unable to cope up with household chores like cleaning, cooking, and lot more. There won’t be a clear margin for household chores and office work. In parallel, uneven feeding times affects their child’s health and family’s health which finally results in conflicts among the family members and leads to poor health and decrease in work production. Many informed that the burden of homemakers increased more during this lockdown along with office work. Increased conflicts in the home also added to their stress.
Some people say it’s a boon as there is security for women who work during the nights, and for people who have infants at home and people who have health issues, etc… can now take care of their things easily along with WFH. To avoid such problems, some professionals try to maintain the same routine to keep the same working hours as in the office. This helps them to stay focused and avoid getting overwhelmed by the work. Due to the availability of flexible timing for doing office work, people won’t notice the time spent on actual daily work at the office and tend to work more and get exhausted. The fall of the economy makes the workers undergo stress and make others of their team to give
PERSPECTIVES ON WORKING FROM HOME
On the other hand, professionals like teachers, are given much fewer salaries than before, even though they are teaching. The students are taught via online meeting platforms because they cannot come to schools. Meanwhile, through online teaching methods, the teachers cannot be sure whether the students understood the topics or not and tend to teach more than usual.
From the students’ perspective, this WFH affected them. They cannot learn the topics in person and social communication with other students is cut off. This makes it tough for them to understand to the fullest extent of the concepts. There won’t be sports or celebrations for festivals in schools as they had before which effects the sportive levels and interaction among the students. And graduating students from designing courses face more trouble compared to engineering students as they can’t work in groups in person with their classmates which they used to do before for group projects.
Interestingly, when it comes to people who own an office or company, this is a wonderful opportunity to raise profits for the company and save a lot of money spent for the maintenance of the office, transport for workers, Wi-Fi charges, electricity bill, etc… But on the deep side, most of the maintenance workers for the company, canteen food suppliers, cab drivers suddenly lose their jobs and only a few manage to survive, due to fewer maintenance works and there won’t be people who commute and work at the office. And these people had to depend on other small businesses to earn income to feed their families.
One of the main drawbacks working from home is the psychological effects it causes, like anxiety, stress, and loneliness which leads to depression just to make it much worse. Depression keeps people up all night or makes them oversleep and affect their outcome of work. But most of the people find WFH reduced stress. They overcome loneliness and depression by calling their friends and talking to them, meditating or exercising for some time to keep their body fit and mind fresh.
Many people feel that WFH is a challenge and it is all about self-control, will power, the ability to suppress intruding thoughts and emotions which reduce work productivity. They make schedules and sticking to them to improve their time management. Most WFH jobs include a lot of working on screens, and exposure to the screens over longer periods increase strain for eyes, causes a headache, and continuous sitting hours increase back pain, spine injuries, choric pain and muscle pains. Even children had to stick their eyes to screens as they are having online classes, straining their eyes.
PERSPECTIVES ON WORKING FROM HOME
According to some reports, too much screen time causes a condition called “computer vision syndrome”. The symptoms are strained, dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, along with neck and shoulder pain due to poor posture. It also causes sleep deprivation due to the blue light from the devices. During the WFH and the lockdown, we are forced to increase our screen time way more than what we used to look at screens before.
The professionals who got most of the profits and advantage due to the work from home and the lockdown are the workers of digital marketing companies. In the last few months, there has been a drastic increase in the sales for online stores like Amazon, Flipkart, food supply companies like Swiggy, Zomato, online groceries supply companies and online streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, etc…
Only software workers and digital marketers seem to have benefited more than any other professionals from this WFH, due to no salary cut downs, unlike others. And the worst affected were the daily wage labourers, factory workers, drivers, cleaners etc… and the people who lost jobs due to lockdown.
Whether it is about working from the office or working from home, the work which needs to be done remains the same. But the circumstances in which people work is what that matters. This is a new experience for many professionals and many think that there is a need to change the workplace more often. Psychologically, change of workplace gives the workers more ideas to improve their work, broaden
their perspectives, fresh thoughts and an improvement in the work compared to before. Cause human brain works differently. Anything doing continuously and in the same manner, doesn’t give a good outcome in the long run. This applies to the work of the professionals also.
WFH had changed and disturbed the daily routine of almost all of the people who used to go to the office early. When the pandemic is over and workers are asked to come back to the office to work, surely the daily routine is going to affect them. People tend to wake up late in the mornings and might be late to office and it takes some days to get back to normal.
Many people felt that this WFH had taught the best of life’s lessons. People learnt how to manage work life and family life at the same time. Work from home is a challenge to mental health. People were mentally disturbed initially. They were unable to cope up with the office and household chores at the same time. And over days passed, every individual came up with their way of dealing with their problems. In many cases, people had serious mental health issues, depression, restlessness due to over workload and stress and pressure.
PERSPECTIVES ON WORKING FROM HOME
Time management is the biggest problem which arose. For some people, it was tough to manage the time, because of the absence of a daily routine and fixed working hours. This makes them work whenever possible and they overwork and causes exhaustion.
Finally, everyone has to find their way, where they want to work or how they want to work. With only this process, there will be the most productive outcome from the officers. And they have to learn to help each other to get better results.