Twitter has announced that it will allow its employees to work from home “forever”. The announcement comes soon after even Google and Facebook announced that most of their employees will be expected to work from home post-lockdown till the end of 2020. Tata Consultancy Services will ask a massive 75% of its global employees – 3.5 lakh of which are in India – to work from home post-lockdown, running up to 2025.
Several organisations are coming to the realisation that working from home is a viable possibility.
They can significantly cut down on economic costs of an office space while ensuring the safety of their employees.
Organizations Need To Formulate Healthy Work-From-Home Policies
Organisations must not treat this as a normal work from home situation. The organisation’s policies must take into account that these aren’t simply work from home policies, but work from home policies during a pandemic.
Here are a few things your organisations must ideally keep in mind when formulating nuanced and beneficial work from home policies –
- People cannot perform and work the way did in the office, at home. It is important to take into account the different needs of different people. Allowances have to be made wherever possible.
- Setting up good standards for communication. Policies should specify the channels of communication – that are easy to use – and the frequency of communication. It is important to build these policies on a bedrock of trust rather than the assumption that people must be monitored at all times.
- Lowering the rigidity of professionalism, and allowing for human-ness. A mother with two children in the house probably cannot guarantee no disturbances in the background during videoconferences, and look presentable whenever there’s a meeting.
- Policies regarding employee availability must take emotional availability into account during these stressful and daunting times.
- With work from home, the output has assumed more importance than presence at work. It is important to focus more on deliverables than on how many hours people clock in.
Work-From-Home Has A Multifaceted Impact on Women
Changing the geography of work is bound to throw people off and cause challenges for everyone.
The notion of a working women – women who leave the confines of their home to step out into the bustle of the world – being normal, is still relatively young.
A situation that brings a woman’s space of independence and liberation from domesticity, back into the home, can have permanent consequences on working women – maybe good, maybe bad. Let’s explore both.
Pros Of Working Remotely For Women
Auxiliary economic costs like travelling, eating out for meals, hiring someone to look after younger children, could drastically go down. With gendered wage gaps continuing to be as prevalent in organisations as they are, this is a win we could all use.
Additionally, travelling in public transportation continues to still be a significantly unsafe experience for women. Removing the stress of vigilante travelling and possible subjection to inappropriate behaviour and aggressions, can be great for the safety of women, and their mental health. Being able to save on travel time, which is significantly high in the metros, can add to the wellbeing of people.
Work-life balance is something that can be especially frustrating to a lot of women. Societal conditioning has ensured that most of them feel deep-root guilt for having to divide their attention between their family and household, and their careers. There is also always an added pressure on women to handle a majority of household and parenting duties irrespective of their careers. Working from home might make balancing the two worlds easier by forcing them to converge in the same physical space. With work being increasingly stressful, family time has in general, taken a backseat, for both genders. Working from home provides the opportunity to find more time with family members.
Cons Of Work-From-Home For Women
Working from home does not always entail flexibility or more time to spend on family, the household, or other activities. For many, instead it means a work day that gets extended way beyond what it usually would have. Bosses may casually increase workload since “you’re working from home only na”. Without physical accountability, the tendency to prolong the work over long unproductive stretches of time, can increase. All of this could actually mean lesser time and attention to spend on things outside of work.
Visibility is an issue for women even when physically present and working from the office. They tend to be overlooked, talked over, and the visibility of their contributions tends to be low. This visibility issue will just escalate for women when working remotely, and we’re not talking about technical glitches in Zoom calls (although that doesn’t help either). Women struggle to make themselves heard anyhow, and working remotely only makes it harder.
Economic cost goes down but costs to creativity and productivity may go up. The home, filled with children who need attention or families who expect to be serviced, may not be a conducive work environment for all women. The attention they’re expected to provide to their families and household chores goes up, since they’ve been shifted back to the domestic space. The quality of their contributions to their work and productivity may drop considerably.
Work From Home Should Be A Choice
Forcing employees to work from home can lead to a drop in the quality and quantity of work, as well as employee morale. Forcing them to come to the office during these fearful times can do the same.
Working remotely works best if it’s by choice.
Make an informed choice. Consider the pros and cons we’ve listed, understand what is most relevant to you, the factors that will affect you the most, and choose what is best for you, your work, and your health!
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