Working From Home - Don't Be A Slave to It
Organizations worldwide have switched to and improvised remote working methodologies to combat the spread of the Covid-19 infection. Many organizations have even gone to the extent of developing their proprietary remote working software to enable their employees to track and monitor their work progress.
Remote working has immediate advantages and universal appeal. It avoids employees having get up early to change, undergo long, tiring commutes, work in the office while being constantly monitored, etc. But there are some downsides to this approach. Since the inception of the remote working approach, a minimum growth of two-to-three times has been recorded in the volume of official online meetings. Organizations ought to enable and empower people by making them own their circumstances through intermittent breaks from their workstation, and not make them spend more and more time on the laptop.
Contrary to widespread public opinion, remote workers are more likely to overwork and tire themselves. With your official and personal lives under the same roof, it is harder to switch sides. The technological innovations in communications have enabled us to stay on top of our work, tracking our progress, working to maintain organizational growth or status quo whilst also focusing on our families. Yet it should be cautioned that the management should track the impact of prolonged hours of remote working on physical and mental health. These warnings reflect an ever-widening concern. Technology, though constantly offering means to boost productivity and promote public welfare, also brings with its unprecedented consequences. It is only now that many of its potentially harmful impacts have become apparent.
Coronavirus has profoundly impacted the way we use technology. A technological shift of a few years was fast-forwarded and realised in a few weeks’ time. The only thing that remains to be fully understood and exploited is how to use technology properly without getting to imbibe any of its physical and psychological side effects. Let us divide this problem into two parts – physical and mental strains. Moving over the first problem, studies show us that a considerable chunk of our employed population reported extra physical pains and bodily discomfort, usually in the neck and the lower back area, since the start of the lockdown period.
People have been reported to be working while cooking in the kitchen, while having breakfast in the morning, in the bedroom etc. Phones and laptops have been taking over the major chunk of a person’s day. Organizations must be advised on making it a point to inquire about the goodwill of their employees at least once a day while they are on their remote sessions. The second problem, mental strains resulting in psychological burnout, can be mitigated, or overcome by essentially conforming to a fixed-schedule work, and by advocating for and having daily “shut down” practices. Experts worldwide are also recommending organizations to establish well-defined times during the day when employees must take breaks and separate personal lives from work. Remote public conferences can include a few breaks when all attendees can turn-off their screens.
The two most common issues dealt by remote workers are overworking and prioritizing work. Common ways in which one can avoid overworking include setting intermittent break reminders, clear communication with your managers and team about work schedules, and by advocating for keeping physical boundaries and distances between you and your workplace. The problem of prioritizing work can be mitigated by a considerable extent by ensuring that the most important tasks are taken care of first thing when the schedule starts. One can also start less by limiting the number of tasks to be completed each day, shifting the onus on focusing and quality; less each day means more quality.
The most important factor affecting employee well-being is undoubtedly the relationship with the manager. This relationship is by far the most important one that employees have in the organization, which fuels their drive to success and achievement, and nurtures sentiments of being-valued and treated well. One innovative approach to those suffering from excessive mental anxieties and psychological burnouts can be cognitive behavioural therapy which offers mindfulness and mental relaxation with binaural beats. Many of the problems relating to mental burnouts and musculoskeletal strains are tested to be effectively dealt by Yoga. But experts argue that meditation-based approaches shall appeal only to a small section of the public and later that relative appeal even declines over time. Experts recommend organizations to allocate budgets for their employees for a range of suitable options, which they can choose out of at the opportune time. But there is no substitute for managerial leadership, relation and encouragement that employees find the most suitable under which to perform.
While starting to work remotely, the preference for comfort and ease must be second to none. A cosy space, a not-so-large snug desk and an extra-comfy chair, where one can work with ease for a few hours without being disturbed and later may also be suitable to relax, is the kind of convenient and unintrusive space that everyone working remotely should look for.