Working from home: balancing personal and professional responsibilities
As the world evolves, so does the way we work. The concept of working from home (WFH), once a luxury reserved for the self-employed, has become a necessity for many people during the Covid-19 pandemic.
We have seen how our organisations as well as employees benefitted during the pandemic as employees even could put in extra hours with a bit of more space created in their personal and family life.
Thus, companies are adopting hybrid (both from home and at the workplace) and remote work models. This has allowed professionals and businesses to recognise its advantages.
It is expected that the trend of working from home will persist due to technological advancements and benefits such as reduced commute time, higher productivity, and improved work-life balance.
However, with reduced Covid-19 risks and the lifting of social distancing restrictions, some organisations are returning to older models with the perception that the productivity under the WFH arrangement is lower than in-office work.
Despite its benefits, working from home comes with its own set of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is the lack of structure and routine, which can lead to procrastination and decreased productivity. The difficulty of separating personal and professional lives can blur the lines between the two, causing a loss of work-life balance, less social interaction, and eventually lower job satisfaction and burnout among remote employees.
Moreover, WFH can pose significant struggles with communication and collaboration, with 21 per cent of remote workers citing communication as their biggest struggle in a study by Owl Labs.
It also presents unique ethical dilemmas, including time theft, privacy concerns and issues with professional conduct. In growth-backed organisations, physical visibility and professional conduct are crucial factors in enabling employee growth.
WFH may also affect fairness and equity, as some employees may not have access to the same resources and tools as others depending on their home environment and circumstances. This can create unfair advantages for some employees and lead to feelings of resentment and unfair treatment.
Furthermore, as the lines between personal and professional lives blur, this can lead to issues with professional conduct, such as inappropriate behaviour or communication with colleagues or clients.
Attending and working physically at the office have their own advantages. Collaborative work is easier when team members are physically present in the same location. Face-to-face communication allows for more spontaneous conversations and brainstorming sessions.
In-person meetings also allow for nonverbal cues and body language, which can be crucial for effective communication. Moreover, being in the same physical space fosters a sense of community and strengthens the work culture and bonding, leading to a positive environment, all of which are crucial for the enrichment of a growing organisation and its people.
Working from an office can provide opportunities for professional development, such as attending in-person training sessions or networking events and getting access to office resources. These opportunities can help employees build new skills and advance their careers.
Despite the challenges and benefits associated with WFH, the debate for its sustainability will continue, and WFH is likely here to stay. Thus, it is pertinent to foster the right balance in a flexible working environment for employees to grow along with the organisation.
Striking the right balance through formalised organisational policies is needed to protect employees and the organisation and ensure positive and productive experiences for both. This is especially applicable to growing organisations where bonding among new and old colleagues as well as client acquisition and coverage matter the most.
On the contrary, ambiguity with guidelines or monitoring is also demotivating some employees who need to be in the office for client and regulatory reasons.
The author is an economic analyst