Corona Virus: Is Work from Home changing the global job landscape?

How has Corona led to global work from the home movement? 

Initially identified in Wuhan, China, Corona, and the Covid19 virus has now reached more than 114 countries around the world. WHO has declared it as a pandemic, and it spreads through air and touch.

In the past few weeks, Google has asked almost 100,000 employees to work from home across 11 offices in the USA and Canada. “Out of an abundance of caution, and for the protection of Alphabet and the broader community, we now recommend you work from home if your role allows,” Chris Rackow, Google’s vice president of global security, wrote in an email to workers.

On Sunday, Apple chief executive Tim Cook asked employees at several of its global offices to work remotely this week “if your job allows”.

Last week Twitter told its employees to work from home to help stop the spread of the virus. Twitter also said it was “strongly encouraging” all of its 5,000 employees around the world to not to go into their offices.

These tech giants have set examples for other MNCs and SMEs to follow their footsteps. While creating awareness and portraying to be a kind gesture, in reality, this is also a smart move. Historically, in the case of such pandemics, governments have asked for a complete shutdown of companies and institutions. If that is the case, in today’s economy, it will create huge losses. Work from home is a win-win for employees and institutions as compared to layoffs or complete paid leaves.  

Work from home: Stories and Statistics

“In the 2016 paper “Does Working From Home Work?” a team of economists looked at Ctrip, a 16,000-employee Chinese travel agency that had randomly assigned a small group of its call-center staff to work from home. At first, the experiment seemed like a win-win for workers and owners. Employees worked more, quit less, and said they were happier with their job. Meanwhile, the company saved more than $1,000 per employee on reduced office space. But when Ctrip rolled out this policy to the entire company, it caused a mess. One complaint swamped everything else: Loneliness” – BBC

According to the latest report by Gartner, 54 percent of HR leaders have cited that inferior technology and/or infrastructure for remote working is the most significant barrier to effective remote working – Gartner 

The IT industry’s apex body Nasscom has asked the government to relax norms for a month to allow work-from-home for technology and back-office employees as a measure to deal with the spread of COVID-19 in India – NDTV

recent survey of 2,000 working professionals and 1,000 hiring managers by LinkedIn found that 82% of workers want to work from home at least one day per week, and 57% want to work from home at least three days per week. – CNBC MAKEIT

Six out of 10 individuals in the European Union hadn’t worked from their home in 2018, according to figures compiled by the OECD in Paris. In Italy, where the government is attempting the world’s first nationwide lockdown, 67% of workers said they never operated remotely and less than a quarter of households have access to ultra-fast fiber broadband. – BLOOMBERG

Common myths of Work from Home

It is easy: While flexibility is the beneficial aspect of WFH, people mistake it as easy work. No being flexible doesn’t mean that you have it easy. It only means that you have to do whatever it takes to get the job done. 

People are underworked: While working from home sounds fancy, it comes with difficulties. A remote worker has to put in extra effort to make the employers and team feel like she is contributing enough to the organization than a regular employee. The remote worker also has to juggle through many tasks to achieve balance as she is not confined to a structured working space. 

Benefits of work from home

Saves time, energy, and money: Work from home helps you save the time of commute, non-productive conversations, and workplace gossips. In the process, it also saves money and energy. At home, you can work straight out of bed with a coffee in hand. Some people start working even before brushing. Cost of commute, snacks at breaks, shared cigarettes, after hours, etc. can also be reduced when you work from home. From an organization’s point of view, one less employee in the office, the lesser gossips and more focus on work.

Less pretentious: Everybody has a workplace persona. That means, at the workplace, you carry yourself in a certain way than at your home or close circle. For some people, it could be very similar. But for others, it could be different and exhausting. When you work from home, the dual persona can be avoided. 

Flexibility: Work from home allows a certain level of flexibility. If you have an inevitable engagement during the day, like having to take a family member to the hospital, you can put in hours at night to compensate for that time. Maybe those hours will yield more results to the organization. 

Better productive hours: People work differently at different hours. Night owls are more productive at night. The Millenials are hyperactive at night, whereas they are as less productive in the morning. When you are working from home, you can choose the most productive hours that work for you and make use of it efficiently. 

No workplace harassment: Many people prefer to work from home after going through some level of harassment at the previous organization. It could be pay disparity, lack of promotion, sexual harassment, unfair treatment, or toxicity at the workplace. When you are working from home, you are safe from all those, especially if you are a female.

Family atmosphere: As much as people blame women for not having it all, for not effectively balancing both family and career, we have to deal with the fact that it is hard. It is almost impossible to cater to all the needs of families and organizations even after giving your hundred percent. Most of the women leave the workforce when they are unable to cater to all the requirements. Working from home options to women will be the new kind of female empowerment any organization can provide.

Lesser competition: For a remote employee, always the work speaks for them. Beyond that, there is no scope for organizational politics.  

Do not have to bother about appearances: It is hard to get up, put together an outfit, makeup, and be ready to work. It is even harder to carry yourself well with poise all day. Unless you have a T-shirt office, you need to make a series of small decisions just to appear in the workplace. When you work from home, you can bother less about appearance and more about work. 

Challenges of Work from Home  

Less control: When employees work from home, usually superiors feel like they have lost control over the employees. It comes from the fact that most of the organizations run on time-based deliveries, not task-based objectives. 

Understand what works for each employee: When multiple people in an organization are working from home, it is crucial to understand how each person functions. Some people have kids at home. They might work better at night; some work better in the afternoon. You have to ensure that you ask for the most productive hours from your employees. Or better yet, you don’t ask for time, you ask for results/deliveries. 

Lousy lifestyle and routine: For employees, work from home can cause routine changes, and it will lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. Lack of sleep, oversleep, lack of exercise, working in bed, and lack of socialization can affect your wellbeing. 

Reputation hazards: The society has still not accepted the work from home concept. People consider professionals who work from home unemployed.  

Collaboration errors & Miscommunication: These are the real challenges of working from home. To tackle this, employees need guidance and patience. Using modern technology effectively also is essential.  

Lonely at work: Your workplace also contributes to your socialization needs. When you are working from home, you are in self-isolation, and you are devoid of socialization as there will be no community or team events 

Higher retention: Work from home employees mostly feel like their job is always threatened. When it comes to downsizing a firm, a remote employee goes out first. It makes a remote employee always feel insecure.  

Is work from home going to go away after Corona?

Considering the current global scenario characterized by wildfires, Corona pandemic, floods, extreme increase in global temperatures, floods, and other natural calamities, 2020, within three months, have seen so many challenges. Scientists predict that it is only the start of more unforeseen events.

When we look at the economic sector globally, we see that recession is hitting many countries around the world. The stock markets are crashing; oil prices and middle-class incomes are falling. We see massive trouble in the economy. It will slowly affect businesses and, subsequently, job markets.

Companies will cut down permanent employees, might sell off large office spaces, and instead might start to pay for activity software. Once you master how to yield productivity out of remote workers, there will be a considerable reduction in workplace bills. 

Organizations can only pay for the working hours and avoid travel, food, and accommodation allowances. They do not have to spend on training and developments. They can save considerably on office spaces, electricity, and other equipment. If you have a clear vision of what you require from employees, remote working can reap the rewards. Hence, in so many ways, we have reasons to believe that work from home could be the future of the job market.

How can you tackle work from home as an employer like a pro? Time Vs. Task WFH

Work from home can be a tricky concept for regular employees if you have been trained that way for years. It is even harder for lethargic employees. What employers have to understand about this concept is that “Fixed time-based work from home” will not be sufficient.

At home, multiple external factors are interfering with the concentration of a human being. You are not in a controlled atmosphere here. You are free. You might have family or children walking around. The time you spent in front of your laptop when they are walking around might not be productive.

Office work is mostly hour based. But, work from home should always be task-based. The superior should allocate tasks to employees, which can be achieved during regular office hours. But the employees have to deliver the jobs within the deadlines. If you can accomplish those within two hours, it is right for you. But if that task can only be done by the period, that is also fine. Task-based work from home will make employees accountable for their work and deliveries. Time-based work from home will ensure their presence but not work done or deliveries.

COMING SOON : HOW TO STRATEGICALLY PLACE EMPLOYEES ON WORK FROM HOME?

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