Should Companies adopt a WFH Policy?

Over the last six months, humans have adapted to change. A change that tossed up the world and brought it to a standstill. Governments of the world imposed lockdown. The news of Covid-19 spread, created havoc and kept people glued to the news, wanting an update on the Three ‘C’, which were causes, cures, and counts. Who would have taught humans, one of the smartest species on this planet would be caged up in rooms? Or stranded in foreign lands with little to no money left to survive? While earlier the pandemic was being considered a passing phase, no one anticipated the disruption it would cause to our daily lives. With the change in daily life, should companies adopt a WFH policy?

The pandemic brought daily routine to a standstill while WFH became the new normal. Zoom, a free/paid video calling service emerged out of the blues and suddenly, everyone was latched on to it. Physical meetings converted to video calls and business travel stopped. People brought the work home, and with it, everything changed. Although some businesses shut during the initial stages of the pandemic, many thrived. E.g. one of the biggest business deals between Facebook and Jio Platforms (Reliance Industries Ltd) was signed during the lockdown. With this deal, Facebook will own a 9.99% stake in Jio Platforms and invest Rs. 43, 574 crores.

 

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In past difficult times, entrepreneurs have displayed far sightedness and creativity that could not have been believed to exist. These became the flagpoles of innovation and new technology today. I hope that the ability to find another way to build a product, run a company, run operations a better way, will emerge as an outcome of the current crisis. I won’t downplay the challenges and the difficulties embedded in these current times. But my confidence remains high in the inventive nature and the creativity of entrepreneurs today who will find ways to enable new or modified enterprises that would be the benchmarks of tomorrow. It can all start on a clean sheet of paper that looks at ways of doing things that were never thought of before. This crisis will force entrepreneurs to adapt and create.

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During the Covid-19 outbreak, LinkedIn announced a permanent work from home. Big tech giants such as Google and Microsoft announced extended work from home till 2021. Facebook, Siemens, Twitter, Shopify, Novartis, etc. are inching towards permanent work from home solutions.

In India, Alok Kejriwal, Co-Founder & CEO of Games2Win India Pvt Ltd shared that the management of Koimoi and Games2Win India Pvt Ltd took a decision for employees to permanently work from home, but also adopted a flexible policy for those who intend to work from the office space.

How many of you thought of switching to Koimoi/Games2Win India? I know a few who did.

The company is the first in India to have declared a permanent WFH. How many businesses will follow suit? Many companies are sitting on the fence, waiting to make a decision. While companies are yet to take the plunge, many employees have smoothly transitioned to the WFH module. And some are intending on making the permanent switch.

Poll: Should Companies Adopt a Work-from-home policy?

After reading about multiple organizations – startups and businesses inching towards work from home, I shared a poll on my social profiles asking my social connections ‘Should Companies adopt a Work from Home policy?’ The results were not surprising. A majority voted to work from home as it has its significant share of positives attached to it.

Linkedin Poll: Should Companies adopt a work-from-home policy?

The lockdown brought a pause button to the mundane Monday-Friday/sometimes Saturday life. Most businesses adapted to the change, some set ground rules before incorporating a functional WFH model. A lot of money was spent for outstation, physical meetings that included the cost of travel, stay, food, etc. During the lockdown, businesses saved money and some learned that physical meetings are not important if the product is good. During the pandemic, some have returned home after years, while some realized how they missed family dinners, the conversations on the dinner table, etc. Owing to the Covid-19 outbreak, some have bridged the lost gap between family and friends. Some have upgraded their professional skills while some have developed personal skills. Cooking and baking has been the most shared skill, followed by gardening and painting. Some have started resin art, while some have become content creators. The lockdown has proved to be beneficial for quite a few individuals.

While there are numerous benefits to the WFH routine, there are quite a few downsides that have emerged during this period. During the lockdown, mental health has been one of the most talked-about issues amongst family and friends. This can be viewed in two ways. Positive – as the pandemic has initiated a conversation on the subject. Negative – the pandemic has had an increase in the number of mental health issues.

When chatting with a working mom about her views on Work from Home, she suggested that companies should have a mix of both worlds. “Sometimes it’s easy to work from home to get away from chaos like traffic, getting back on time to pick up my daughter, cooking in a rush and there are days when I feel stuck staying back at home! Like I miss the feeling of working as a team. If asked, I would ask for 3 days WFH and 2 days workplace,” says Gautami, a Business Analyst.

On the other hand, Melody D’silva, a Banking Professional who recently switched teams internally said, “Living and working in the same room/house is weird. Your mind doesn’t even switch like it would in different environments. No wow feeling of reaching home after a tired day. There is little to no bonding between teammates as no smoke/coffee breaks OR going out on a Friday IS NOT AN OPTION ANYMORE. Onboarding is very difficult as it’s difficult to virtually train. It affects the culture of the business because when everybody is working from home the official culture is not being adhered to and may have to be instilled in employees again – also new employees will never know the actual work culture. You don’t have people’s attention as it’s easy to multitask on Zoom. WFH should be flexible and continued intermittently to ensure resiliency. Of course, till the pandemic is on, WFH is in order.”

Jessica Crescentia, a research analyst said, “My company had always an innate WFH policy. Used for those days when you can’t make it to work. Now, however, I feel work has encroached into personal life. There is absolutely no respect for someone’s time. People don’t hesitate to make irrational work demands at 11 in the night. There seems to cease in the boundaries. Work has become my life and I don’t like it. At least when you go to work, you have a break when you’re commuting or during lunch where you physically need to be in the canteen to eat. Right now, I forget to even take loo breaks.”

“Boundaries between work and home are blurred. We’ll never leave our laptops and have a life beyond the screen,” said Nilav Ivorine, a teacher based in Abu Dhabi.

While seeking opinions of professionals, Steven Rodrigues, Marketing & Business Development Manager said, “See the way I see this is based on several factors: Job role you’re in, do you love what you’re doing, are you tech-savvy, work-life separation. For my type of work, interaction is key. I get work done plus I really love meeting people from different walks of life and different levels of society as I can make conversations easily. I’ve had everything from beers for breakfast to red velvet cake for lunch and being a part of their milestone dinners. Got really good friendships and professional relationships out of it. This is a dimension of life that cannot be replaced through screen interaction or a video with people sitting in their homes. Sure you can get work done but it lacks a lot if you’re not a desk-and-calculator-bound person. Also as a lifelong principle, I keep my work life away from my personal life and vice-versa. No compromises on family time. WFH muddles these waters and bad employers assume and tend to use your personal life to accuse you of underperforming in these scenarios. Many would say I’m at a really tech-savvy level so I usually do stuff what most people don’t think of. So no fear of screens or tech here. All in all, WFH is not a tried and tested way of life for people who have achieved success and enjoyed life the normal way. That being said, I know a lot of my female friends are really doing well in WFH. I guess there is no dearth of men who will use any means to see beautiful women but atleast the pretty ones are safe behind the screens? Jokes apart, I can also tell you most of my female business-owner friends say they miss the interaction, driving their fancy cars, making an entrance, gathering admiration in style and the high of blowing people’s minds with their business deals, signings and strategies in personal interactions. These should suffice for the perspectives of a fixed set of people I may be a part of.”

If given a choice, I would definitely consider a permanent work from home solution. What about you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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