At Home with Work from Home
Stay-in. Physical isolation. Lockdown. No more bars and pubs. No more visits to malls, quick trip to the grocery store, quick strolls round the block. No visit to parks and most of all, for some lucky ones, work from home. I will come back to say why that’s lucky, please bear with me.
The truth is that COVID-19 has changed the way the modern world works. It has changed the way businesses and economies work. It has definitely succeeded in sowing the seeds of a change in mindset when it comes to the workplace.
The first thing that happened in lockdown was that most of us started working from home. There was uncertainty on how this would pan out. But 4 weeks down and we are still onto it; some may have even developed a rhythm to it. I like the fact that I have totally curtailed my 2 hour one-way commute from home to work. Saving 4 hours a day – that’s a lot of time! And, I have seen immediate results in my physical and mental well-being.
There was uncertainty in how remote working teams would perform – and the result is out – not too different from how they were doing otherwise. The trick is in reaching out to anyone the same way you would if you were in the same physical office and call at an earliest convenience. This has definitely dropped the veil from a mindset against remote working. Many tech organisations are increasingly becoming aware that it is totally feasible for their teams to work remotely.
Does office space then become a mere leisure rather than a necessity?
With increasingly becoming indoor-bound and the testing times we are in, there is a downside of people feeling stressed, depressed, lethargic as they are not able to get out and about. The HR and people welfare teams have taken up their role very effectively as a harbinger of mental and physical health challenges. From encouraging virtual coffee catch-ups, to ‘take notice’ photo competitions of something interesting one might have captured during their walk, step count challenge to yoga and mindfulness articles in the intranet, the people welfare teams in various organisations have really innovated and delivered in sending through a message of goodwill. Some organisations even had employees joining in during this period. First day at a new organisation from home. Who would have believed it were possible if I said this even a month ago?
Teachers innovated too! Running sessions online through learning portals, videos and digital whiteboards. Daycare centres are sharing activity packs for kids online, as are online help groups for parents. One thing for sure, there is no dearth of materials for kids’ learning – now what parents need is some time to spend with them (which they get from the time they save in commute). School term starting online. Way to go!
Next comes the delivery revolution. Online orders, click and collect, home deliveries – these were just options pre-COVID-19, but they have become a key factor right now. While big supermarkets are trying to keep up with the queues, the orders and the deliveries, the smaller local businesses are realising the importance of an easier order and delivery service even if it is limited to the neighbourhood they operate in. Just the ability to move to an online order and delivery platform is likely to make the business sustainable, and prevent it from shutting down. Again, the shift towards a pro-digital mindset is key.
While these examples do highlight the importance of keeping up with the times in this digital age, there is a flipside of the coin – the daily-wage earners, the construction workers, cleaners, much smaller businesses that cannot necessarily thrive in a lockdown situation. They are the ones paying a heavy price. In spite of government grants, there are businesses who have had to close their doors, people who are living under meagre conditions – while still living in fear of the grave danger to health that COVID-19 holds.
This is where I feel it is really important for the better side of humanity to manifest. Stay mindful, be generous, be kind, have empathy. Everyone has their struggles and in testing times like this, our mettle shines through.