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Working from home is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It is important to be mindful of the fact that we are all just people, albeit with starkly contrasting personalities.
When you are ultra-sensitive like I am, working full-time at an organisation on-premises is close to traumatic because of the daily need to make small talk, wear a mask of politeness when someone is droning on about something uninteresting or worse, dealing with office politics, which I still don’t fully grasp! You only know the people around you are manipulating you, and you fall prey to it due to your personality.
It takes a lot out of me to work in an organisation on-premises with other people. I usually don’t share my thoughts in the beginning with anyone, and I express myself better through the written word. I also tend to talk without any filters, so that leads to innumerable complications. Managing my emotions is also an area of concern for me.
However, working from home has eliminated most of the issues arising out of these challenges. My efficiency has gone sky-high, and all the issues I faced earlier have gone with the wind!
I’m deeply grateful to have been given an opportunity to work from home starting May 2017. So when the pandemic started changing our lives earlier this year, I was already living the ‘social distancing’ life, so to speak. I live in suburban Chennai, and we are 40 kms away from the city. I haven’t stepped outside of my house in 2.5 months like most of you, but even before then, I used to go to the city only once a month or so, if at all. So the pandemic hasn’t changed my life much.
What has changed is that the rest of the world is now in the same boat as I am. And not all of them are introverts like me. Some of them are ambiverts and extroverts, who are used to mingling with people and enjoy all those things about offices that I always hated. People are under a lot of stress, especially the extroverts. Used to being the centre of attention, now they are forced to lead online lives. Extroverts get their energy from talking to other people while introverts like to recharge and have their ‘me’ time.
I’m not sure if work-from-home is ideal for everyone though. You have to have a deep sense of commitment to work and meet deadlines. You also need to have your gadgets and laptops working efficiently and more than one Internet connection. You have to maintain it yourself.
With online tools like AnyDesk and TeamViewer, it is possible for companies to access their employees’ desktops remotely and fix issues if need be. We need to get technology on our side and use it to our best advantage.
The pandemic has made it stressful for everyone. People are dealing with medical emergencies, worrying about their family members who are working on the frontlines or simply about being separated from their loved ones in another city. It is more important, in these times, to be kinder than usual and have understanding people around you.
More than ever, people are reaching out to therapists at this time, as the stigma around mental illness is slowly reducing, at least among the privileged.
Companies may think of providing home-office allowances for employees to maintain their gadgets and laptops, which are required for official use. They will also have to develop suitable metrics to assess the contribution of WFH employees when it comes to the time of annual assessments and bonuses. Leave policies must be looked at from a new angle. It will provide a level playing field for employees working from home in relation to their office-going counterparts. Hopefully, it will happen once the COVID-19 situation improves and a proportion of staff continues to work from home.
Organisations must have sessions on E.Q and mental health. It is important for everyone to remain mindful of the fact that we are all just people, albeit with starkly contrasting personalities.
Managing everyone’s sensitivities and ego is a part of the job of managers, and as one of my former bosses who had an advertising agency background said, it’s a hell-born one!
Image via Canva
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