How the Coronavirus Lockdown Made It Harder to Work From Home

Millions of years ago, when early humans stepped out to hunt, I’m pretty sure some of them chose to stay back, and work on rather important issues from home. Fast forward millions of years, and almost the entire world is now working from home. Of course, these are not normal circumstances.

We’re in the middle of what’s being considered as the world’s largest work-from-home experiment — except, the test conditions are a far cry from what work-from-home normally looks like. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread globally, mankind’s safest bet is to stay indoors and work, while hoping for the best. And working from home in the world’s biggest quarantine isn’t a walk in the park either.

People have worked from the comfort of their home for a very long time now, but there was a very few of us. But the pandemic has changed a lot of things. Most of them aren’t a part of your usual work-from-home routine.

As I write this from my home office, a tiny study room I converted into an office back in 2012, I have a bottle of hand sanitiser next to my laptop instead of a big bowl of snacks. I wash hands every time I walk out of the home office or come back in. Every alternate hour, one of us have to check in on the kid who’s also being homeschooled because as you know, schools are shut too. There’s a sticky note on the secondary display with a list of essentials that need to be purchased today.

I’m getting things done, I love working from home, and there’s nothing quite like it. But working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been entirely normal. When the lockdown initially kicked in, there was anxiety in the air, and it did make things difficult for most people who were new to the entire work-from-home culture.

coronavirus work from home main 2 working from home in lockdown india

Working from home during the coronavirus lockdown feels very strange

 

All of sudden, there were hundreds of how-to’s floating around on the Internet, helping people ‘stay productive’ as they started to adapt to a whole new workplace. Companies were worried about tracking their employees’ workflow. Some workers lacked basic equipment at home, and couldn’t buy anything new during the lockdown.

Needless to say, things were, and to some extent they still are, chaotic. A lot of people I know seem to be suffering from cabin fever, they’re craving for face-to-face interaction with another human being who is not their family. Most office-goers initially loved missing their daily commute, but now seem to want at least a slice of it. Some even miss that coffee machine at work.

While normal work-from-home routine offers the perfect platform to stay productive without the distractions of an office, the new normal work-from-home culture during the coronavirus lockdown is ridiculous. You want to get things done, but some obvious distractions are holding you back.

You’re in the middle of a Zoom meeting, and your brain signals ‘Dude, we’re out of milk’. You shush it and continue to focus on the dozen people on the screen. Another 15 minutes, and your little one walks into your home office, asking for candy. We’re out of candy too, and we can’t buy anything right now either. Dealing with your partner at home, working or not, is also something that needs a balancing act.

With the lockdown making it harder to justify letting a stranger walk in, you’re also doing your household chores. Yes, the things that were somehow magically getting done in the background. You realise the importance of a clean house when you start sneezing because of all the dust that accumulated around the house within hours. It’s ridiculous. Don’t even get me started about cooking and keeping a sane stock of ration.

While relaxations are slowly kicking in, things are slowly getting better for the work-from-home-during-the-pandemic culture. We all can get back to focus on that all-important Excel sheet because we don’t have to worry about getting groceries anymore. But most other things still remain constant, and may do so for a very long time ahead.

Schools are still closed so you still need to work while ensuring the little ones don’t keep breaking things while you’re busy working. Don’t even get me started about homeschooling, which makes me wonder why am I even paying the school anymore. It’s a different thing for you to attend a Zoom call, and an entirely different thing to make a kid attend one, while staying glued to his chair, even for 20 minutes.

 

It’s challenging, but work from home is going to be a part of most of our lives going forward. WHO says the novel coronavirus may not go away entirely, like a distant relative during the festive season. Companies are now adapting too, some even offering the possibility of remote work even after the pandemic situation eases. Others are planning to take the remote-first route in the long run.

Some companies are trying to monitor their employees as they work remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. While it’s easier to keep an eye on employees at offices, it makes it worrisome for managers to not be able to see what their staff is up to. With millions of people working from home during quarantine, companies are looking to better ways to monitor their employees. The privacy aspect of tracking employees stinks, but companies are trying hard to keep a balance between maintaining order while keeping everyone productive.

No matter how crazy it may seem, but working remotely is proven to be more productive for most workers. A study conducted by Stanford, back in 2015, found that people who work from home are more productive than those who work out of an office. Some of the basic advantages include no daily commute, no 1-hour chit-chat breaks with colleagues, and no pointless meetings that could have been just an email. Commuting itself has been proven to make us ‘unhappy’. This lockdown however, showed the opposite happen, because of all the new stresses that a pandemic brings.

Another school of thought feels that remote workers may lose out on human interactions which may ultimately lead to a more creative mindset. Some people also feel separating their work lives from their personal lives is quite difficult when working remotely. From my personal experience, setting a time to disconnect from work at the end of the day is probably the hardest part of working from home.

Working from home may become the new normal, but we’re still quite a distance away from it. Not all jobs are feasible enough to be shifted remotely. There’s a growing concern amongst companies for safeguarding their data as employees work from their homes.

As for me, I’m itching to back to the normal work-from-home routine when I didn’t have to worry about ordering groceries or keeping the little one’s screen time in check, or these 8 pm what-should-we-cook-for-dinner meetings with my wife.


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