Working From Home: It's Not Everyone's Cup Of Tea
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At the start of 2020, I couldn’t have imagined that working from home would prove to be productive, and that it would positively impact efficiencies in employees in certain industries. But here we are.
Personally though, I am still sitting on the fence on this topic.
Several reasons have contributed to my opinion on this matter, which I will delve into this piece. Firstly, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here. Whether we look at it from a personal front or a professional perspective, it took some to adjust to working from home, even for those who took it as fish to water.
The fact remains that working remotely is here to stay a little while longer, whether we like it or not. Back in March, there was no choice but to settle into this new routine. After all, the outside world was a strange and unsafe place. With no external stimulation available, there was no other choice but to give your best to work.
As a business owner in the automotive industry, which involves hands-on work with machinery, operations, and logistics and managing large teams, it was a conflicting decision. Indeed, it probably took me and the senior management team at my enterprise a little longer than other corporate set-ups to grapple with the new norm.
Where do I stand on this matter today? Initially, I spent all of two weeks debating pros and cons of working from home, leaning more towards the disadvantages at first. Today, while I am an advocate of remote work culture for employees and employers, I do believe that not everyone is cut out for it. Not every job can be done remotely, and specially if you’re a fixed part of a team, then your role and lack of physical presence might adversely affect efficiencies of others, and ultimately, the business.
While we have witnessed shifts in our daily life routines, and working from home getting positive press with major tech companies announcing long-term remote working plans, we have also seen a rise in mental health issues. Social isolation, lack of motivation due to absence of team spirit, employment uncertainty, depression are some of the common traits surfacing as we come close to the end of 2020. In short, working from home is not what it’s cracked up to be.
And we mustn’t forget interns and fresh graduates joining their first jobs. How can working remotely positively benefit their career growth? Establishing a rapport over Zoom meetings, or jumping in with a brilliant idea during brainstorming sessions, or even showing off your leadership skills are not feasible in a virtual environment. Just like online graduation ceremonies are not quite the same as the physical ones. Need I say more?
CEOs have been acting like “chief crisis managers” for the most part this year. On one hand, they were dealing with the impact of COVID-19 on business, while answering shareholders, partners, and customers, and on the other hand, they also had to ensure that the teams were functioning at their full capacity, yet remotely. In addition, CEOs had to think about short-term tactics and long-term strategy, while keeping the balance between cost-cutting measures and team morale.
At the same time, working from home has led business owners to tackle a different set of challenges as well- these include:
- Providing employees with equipment such as laptops, setting up remote access system to the company server
- Constant monitoring of employees logging daily to report to work
- Risk of security breaches that could be detrimental to the business
- Difficulties in developing skills of newly joined employees
- Constant communication issues due to distractions at home. Not everyone’s living environment is conducive to remote work, and specially if they have young kids
- Communication gaps ,and ultimately, deadline delays. This is primarily due to the fact that technical and operational staff are not naturally adept at communication
- Keeping the focus on the purpose, vision, and values of the enterprise, and hoping the key messages are sinking in with the teams. Keeping the frontline motivated and engaged, while keeping the growth of the business in mind
I am sure the corporate sector may disagree with my notions, and by no means, I am writing off remote work culture. My point remains that it’s not one or the other. It’s dependent on the industry you are associated with, your personality, and your strength in the team structure. There are lots of variables to mull over, and there are many aspects to consider before we cast a unanimous vote on this topic.
I am sure that in months to come, we’ll read more about the highs and lows on working from home. While tech giants are leading the way in promoting remote work environments, and other employers are afraid to be seen as politically incorrect by not supporting it, I would still encourage advocates to think about both sides of the argument before passing a verdict. The jury’s still out!