The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly forced the corporate life to shift its physical space to that of the home spaces of the respective employees for maintaining and following the government rules as well as abiding by the social distancing rules and other similar protocols. The lockdown has taught the corporate class that working from home is the next best thing to that of working from the office during an ongoing global health crisis.
This pandemic has even helped the employers at large to understand that tasks can be completed even when the employers are at home and not in their office spaces. This at the end of the day has made the employers agree with the fact that working from home is the ‘new normal.’ Further, video communication platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, etc, have opened the doors for conducting official meetings and interactions between the employers and the employees without the need to actually be present inside a closed physical room per se. Healthcare, education, finance and businesses large and small are growing and improving with the help of video communications. This year alone, hundreds of thousands of small business owners – yoga and piano instructors, therapists, accountants and others – maintained and even grew businesses using video to connect with customers.
Some other advantages of ‘working from home’ is that the cost of maintaining an actual physical office space is virtually non-existent, travelling cost is saved as there is no question of travelling involved while working remotely and working remotely gives allows a better work-life balance.
For those who can work from home, the daily experience of work will change significantly. Commuters will gain an hour back on average in their day and estimates suggest that post pandemic, some portion of the week will involve working from home, from one to three days a week. A hybrid model is likely to emerge that will try to balance the efficiencies gained by remote work with the benefits of social interactions and to creativity and innovation generated by working in person with others.
Working from home has some issues too. With no proper workstations (let alone Wi-Fi connections), space crunch, more than two family members working from home, plus kids doing home schooling – it affects space for an exclusive workstation. Robustness of the IT infrastructure in India is a key to success for the work-from-home model. We will soon realize that work from home set-ups will increase our utility bills (telephone, Wi-Fi, electricity, printing costs, etc), leading to diminishing net income for the individual.
So considering such factors, ‘work from home’ is the way to go forward post COVID-19, for a cost-efficient and balanced work environment for both the employers and the employees even after the COVID-19 pandemic gets eradicated. And as such, ‘work from home’ will still prevail as the next-best or a viable alternative for the otherwise mainstream physical office-oriented job.
But the greatest challenge regarding work is what happens to the other workers who can’t work from home. The decline in daily commuters as well as business travel has a knock-on effect on those whose jobs support and serve these workers and offices. A full one-in-four workers are in the transportation, food service, cleaning and maintenance, retail and personal care industries. These jobs, often concentrated in cities and lower paid, are disappearing or are at risk of disappearing in the near term.
In addition, staring at the screen for hours puts a lot of stress to our eye sight which negatively impacts our heath causing headaches, eye strain or can make the symptoms of existing eye conditions worse. Also, looking at screens for too long without taking breaks can also lead to difficulty focusing, headaches, eye discomfort, blurred vision, dry eyes, and itchy eyes