Challenges of Work from Home
While Work from Home has many advantages as explained in previous article i.e. in Advantages of Remote Working, it also brings many challenges, some of which are explained below.
Safety at Work:
Professional offices have both safety regulations that they follow as well as safety inspectors who ensure that the workplace is safe. When you move into the home office, you are essentially on your own, so it is important that you take good care of the safety is- sues. Eventually , new regulations will come up to cover the home office also as a “workplace” and requiring employers to support employees with minimum specifications for home offices. In the meanwhile, a simple safety checklist to help you setting up basic facilities to ensure the safety of your home office is given at the end of this article.
Many organizations have “information” at the heart of the edge’ over their competitors. Elaborate procedures are put in place for data and information security. When work moves to the home and IT equipment are distributed, it is not possible to use physical security alone as basis of information security. Organizations will need to create new procedures to ensure that their information is safe from being stolen or their servers being breached due to commissions or omissions from their staff.
Harassment at the workplace:
All workplaces have situations where some employees feel harassed, including bullying and sexual harassment. Organizations also have strict regulations on what is meant by prohibited conduct and set up grievance procedures against such acts. However, when work moves online the definition of what constitutes harassment and how they should be handled will all change.
Some organizations consider off-working hour WhatsApp calls from supervisors as “bullying”. When some staff respond to such messages in real time, others will feel compelled to follow suit, leading to workplace stress. Supervisors and colleagues attending to video calls from their bedrooms, especially while in inappropriate clothing and backgrounds, could be intimidating to others, leading to complaints of sexual harassment. Clearly new rules will evolve in time, but in the meanwhile, one should be very conscious of such facts and practising abundance of precaution is the right approach.
Women and WFH:
Work from home brings many challenges for all employees but it brings some particular challenges for women. Research shows that even in the Western countries, women do a larger share of the house work, including daily chores such as cooking and helping children. When women start to work from home, such pressures will increase as all family members start to put more and more demands on them.
The type of freedom and consideration that men working from home receive is not often available to women. This is particularly troublesome for those women who live in joint families with parents and/or in-laws. Anecdotal evidence shows that when lockdown conditions are withdrawn, it is the women staff who prefer to return to work as compared to men. We would need a huge cultural shift in this matter.
Workspace Near Home:
While WFH works and is likely to be a major feature of modern workplaces, this arrangement has one very fundamental problem. People go to office not just to work. It is also a place where they meet other people, form friendships and even partnerships. If you spend all your time working from home, you do not develop your social networks and relationships.
It is expected that the future workspaces will combine the best of both WFH and social workspaces by having “Shared Workspaces Near Home”. Shared workspaces, where people who do not have their own offices or home offices, rent spaces either on weekly or monthly basis. This arrangement was already on the rise when the WFH revolution happened. It is not expected that the ‘shared workspace’ concept will explode and such facilities will come up across the world. The real estate relinquished by those organizations which allowed their staff to work from home will become shared workspaces in big cities.
At the same time, one can create small shared workspaces with high-speed Internet, professional meeting rooms, coffee shops and other facilities to socialise in places that never have offices of major companies. In the context of Kerala, where reliable electricity and WiFi are challenges in the present times, one can expect to see such shared workspaces with basic office infrastructure to come up in every village.
A situation where employees from an IT company in San Francisco, a Design Company in Dubai, a research organisation in Singapore, a bank in Mumbai and Government Secretariat in Trivandrum, all sharing a common workspace in a village in Kochi is not far away. It is not only very conceivable but very likely in the next five years.
Muralee Thummarukudy, Operations Manager,
United Nations Environment Programme, Geneva, Switzerland
Neeraja Janaki, Career Mentor, Ernakulam, Kerala
- I am Shivanga Kumar Gogoi, owner of the Multigyan.com website. I am a B.Tech degree holder and 21yrs old young entrepreneur from the City of Jorhat, Asam. By profession, I'm an instrumentation engineer, web designer, google webmaster and SEO optimizer. I have deep knowledge of Google AdSense and I am interested in Blogging.
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