Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has become the norm in many companies around the world. Some of these companies encourage and even prefer it, while others are bearing with it until they can return to in-person work. This is due, in a large part, to the mixed feelings employees have towards working from home.
Many employees believe that working from home is the best thing that has happened to them, since it allows for an immense amount of flexibility in terms of working hours and scheduling. This allows people to attend to other high-priority tasks that demand their time along with their work. Moreover, it allows people to focus more without being disturbed by colleagues, which is more common in shared work spaces.
For many, remote work also nullifies any commuting expenses as well as time spent travelling to work. Consequently, this can allow people to get more rest by sleeping longer, which facilitates improved health. Additionally, remote work this year is a good way to get accustomed to remote employment, since if the pandemic rages on for a prolonged period of time, remote working will be further etched into work culture. Some companies will also continue to work remotely when it is safe to return to in-person activities.
However, working from home comes with some undeniable drawbacks. For me, working from home has been difficult in several ways. For example, it is harder for me to wake up early in the morning without having anywhere to go. Knowing that I simply have to stay in my apartment to get to meetings and other responsibilities subconsciously makes me more dismissive and I find it more challenging to be punctual.
Moreover, it’s difficult as a co-op student trying to learn as much as possible from the experience. It’s usually difficult to engage in serious conversation with managers and other team members when we are not in the same place, which makes it harder to get answers to questions at times. Since the very foundations of many companies have been shaken by COVID-19, with financial losses and workforce impairment, senior-level employees are usually busy mitigating losses in any way possible, leaving us co-op interns with very little work, which might not always be meaningful.
There is also no clear distinction between leisure and work time. Some people feel like they are working around the clock since they have made their living space into a workplace, which harbors a very different atmosphere compared to a home. Some might also face the problem of being distracted by other responsibilities at home, making it harder for them to focus on work.
Communication with coworkers also becomes difficult, especially if there are new people one is interacting with, leading to a lapse in understanding . Facial expressions and vocal tones are essential in workplace communications to express true intent.
Many people also stay home and become unproductive due to the lack of a change in scenery – since they are stuck in one location both working and relaxing, their minds tend to slow down and not function as effectively as they would in a work designated environment.
There is no definitive answer as to whether working from home benefits employees and employers; it solely depends on how each employee experiences it. Many find comfort in it, and are more productive. However, there are those who cannot wait for workplace culture to return to what it was. It will, nevertheless, be very important for people to adapt to the new norm, since companies still expect the usual from employees and they must be in a position to deliver accordingly – now more than ever.