Blurring Boundaries Between Work From Home And Work At Home

Online business platforms like Slack and Zoom and tech giants like Google and Microsoft are offering their tools for free while internet service providers have come under pressure to lift bandwidth caps. Everybody is doing their bit in contributing to the change in lifestyle, to make the complete digital transformation as smooth as possible. In the struggle to find the right balance between personal and professional duties, will work from home become the new norm? What were the remote working challenges before COVID-19 and how will we combat them now?
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

Remote Working Before and After COVID-19
As per Global Workplace Analytic, remote working increased by 159% between 2005 and 2017. However, only 3.4% of the 4.7 million accounted for in the survey remained as the remote workforce before COVID-19 happened.

True to the nature of emergencies, the risk of a work disruption during the epidemic outweighed the risk of change and the problems that follow. The following graph signifies the rise of remote working all over the world in times of the global lockdown.

What Are Some Common Challenges?

On-site Team bonding
The social aspect of working in an office environment would be missing in a remote setup. Water cooler conversations and in-person coffee breaks build a rapport that forms team unity in the long run.

Coordination mismatch
For newcomers, the real culture of the company wouldn’t be known via tele-conferences and video calls and it would take more time for them to adapt with their ‘virtualcolleagues and replicate it digitally.

Work at home setup divide
Junior employees and those in shared accommodation find working from home much more difficult than senior executives with their own places of living. In the case of expenditure spent on power outages and network problems, the latter has more chances of sustaining their productivity.

Cyber-security risks
Employees would be compromising their workplace data in the absence of in-house company server networks. More third party tools like Dropbox and Google drive would be actively used.

Micromanagers always on a lookout
Monitoring tools like RescueTime, that tracks and reports the time spent in each application and website, can be hampering the mental health of employees being constantly reviewed.

Disrupted routines
As per a work-from-home survey conducted by IrishJobs.ie, a recruitment platform, 21% cannot switch off from work. 11% claim to have a heavier workload than usual and 12% feel that they are working less efficiently due to a lack of structure.

What Would Be The New Additions In This New Normal?

Saying bye to business travels
As companies would attempt to cut costs and balance their budgets, the number of business trips would decrease and the budgets set aside for work travels would reduce significantly.

Medical screenings on a rise
Health experts predict that while-on-job medical screening would be the new norm, with temperature checks and antibody tests.  Amazon and Walmart have already begun the former checks of their employees before they are allowed to resume work. They have reportedly fitted thermal imaging screens at the reception to determine the body temperature of anyone entering the building.

Mask, a new functional and fashionable trend
Apparels like face masks would be a socially mandated accessory. Cloth businesses would encourage people to wear them by releasing models that are stylish while being designed to be in tandem with the health norms issued.

Stipend allocation for home office supplies 
Instead of the standard 9 to 5 hours, more flexibility would be offered in working hours and work settings. Social media giant Twitter and e-commerce platform Shopify, have issued employees with stipends to purchase necessary supplies for their home office space.

Increased family time
According to a 2019 FlexJobs survey of more than 2,000 women with children, 31% of women who took a career break after having kids said they didn’t want to but had to due to lack of employer flexibility. A work culture tailored to their convenience would create more equity at home as both men and women would be able to spend more quality time with their families.

Low commute, greater geographical independence
Findings of an international survey conducted by IWG 2019, reported that 15,000 global businesses in 80 nations confirmed that greater location flexibility leads to retention of their talented staff dealing with travel issues. As a bonus, the environment can benefit from the largest drop of Carbon emissions from fossil fuels to date i.e by a fall of 2.5 billion metric tons this year.

Curiopedia
  • Tech giant Twitter was one of the first companies to adopt the work from home culture. In the first week of March, Twitter started asking its 5,000 employees worldwide to start working from home.
  • The culture of WFH came into prominence in the 1970s as Telecommuting. In 1995, the motto that “work is something you do, not something you travel to” was coined which further brought some attention to it. Earlier WFH was used as a way of cost-cutting in the organization.
  • ‘Envelope Stuffing’ was a scam in the 1920s in which the workers were offered entry to a scheme where they can earn $2 for every envelope they fill. After paying a small $2 fee to join the scheme, the victim is sent a flyer template for the self-same work-from-home scheme, and instructed to post these advertisements around their local area – the victim is simply “stuffing envelopes” with flyer templates that perpetuate the scheme. This originated the work from home schemes that are still present in the market.