Corporate: Work From Home during Covid 2019 Lockdown isn’t fun

Work from Home (WFH) as an option

The Covid 2019 lock down time is a great time to catch up with friends via the telephone.  However, I realized, that most of my corporate employed friends, who were working from home, were not picking up the phone well upto 9pm on working days. This is in contrast to what DBS Bank used to tell me, and its employees, till 2018. In eyes of this singapore national bank, work from home was not an option as it was considered inefficient, distraction prone and a process where employee could be under ‘lack of accountability’. For me, that was a line filled with hypocrisy, insecurity and a culture shock to me personally – coming from a 38 country multinational bank like Standard Chartered Bank where work from home was always an option.

After all, anyways, employees (in any organization) on a regular basis brought work into home, checked work emails at home, called up colleagues from home, fixed up next day’s meetings from home etc. Hence the DBS Bank stand, where even if your wife or child was sick, the bosses would coax you to take (waste a) leave, than work from home, was as selfish, conservative and unbecoming of a modern corporate, as possible. However this attitude also explained why singapore residents often took regular medical leaves. Thankfully, Covid 2019 would have bust all that snooty medieval ego and educated DBS Bank that work from home has to be made an option, at the least. If anything, it saves the corporate from expensive office space and facility costs.

WFH, longterm, is burdensome to employee 

Does work from home work well on a long term basis? Over calls with my friends it’s become evidently clear that WFH isn’t as much fun, as say a jealous colleague perceives, a friend bitches about or a DBS Bank like corporate assumes. Listed below are 12 points I summarize from pains my friends have expressed:

1) Increased Hours

Working hours have increased by four to five hours  per day. When you work from home, the employee is under pressure to ‘show’ to his colleagues that he/she is responsible. The employee will wake up early at 7am – 8am to login to his office network. When the same employee goes to office he/she logs in at 9am from his/her desk.

2) Bad Bosses

Bad bosses and insecure corporate are purposely putting daily conference calls at 830 am and giving tighter deadlines to exert command.

3) Distractions

WFH has huge distractions during lock down season – grocery is finished .. go get, vegetable vendor downstairs .. go rush, gas cylinder guy at gate .. go rush, no maid at home .. give bathe to old mother, clean that mess, pick that stuff, listen to this news on tv, cook that food etc. Manoeuvring through these distractions, fitting these into your WFH schedule, and getting focus back to work is not easy.

4) Delays

All project timelines are getting pushed as employees are struggling with the additional workload and stress. Employees are working late nights as corporate is getting more worried about financials. And employees want to work late nights in such times. They feel, sending an email to multiple people at night 2am is a big underline on their importance and commitment. Seeing such emails, the staff whose work is finishing by 6pm is getting jittery if he/she has less work and does that make his/her role useless.

5) Screen size limitations

People who are used to dual monitor screens (on office desk) but have to do the same work only through one laptop (smaller) screen now at home, are feeling stressed.

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6) Irritating Earphone

The headphone / earphone is now stuck to your ears non stop for 14 hrs+ and since one needs to stretch listening senses to hear every word spoken by a boss or boss’ boss or a colleague, at every meeting, this is driving people crazy.

7) Communication Challenges

What was ‘just a walk across the desk and talk over for five mins’ now requires calling multiple people, struggling through network issues and needing to communicate the same message to multiple people, several times.

8 ) Connectivity Challenges

Arranging concalls, videochats multiple times a day and fighting through connectivity challenges is a pain. On top of this pain, one of the popular software used, Zoom, has raised many speculations, doubts, hacking and data leakage issues. I have provided details of an alternate software below.

9) Domestic Challenges

Domestic arguments, domestic violence and child violence has increased exponentially. Reported cases of domestic issues, globally, have gone up three times. Worse, for countries just coming out from lock down period, like China, the divorce rates have exponentially shot up. Expect this to happen globally.

10) Social Distancing

With lack of social interaction (with office colleagues, friends and family friends), loneliness and boredom is hitting hard. Depression helplines have seen surge of calls in current season.

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11) Blurred lines

The line between work time and personal time has got thinner.. in WFH, the person always feels at work and is finding it tougher to disconnect. Many employees prefer working late night, when other (family, daily house work) distractions have minimized. This just increases their working hours and reduces their personal or family time.

12) Insecure future

Insecurities are increasing across the board, as it happens during tough times .. now that every news bit talks about economic losses and potential job cuts. Corporate purposely makes it tougher by sending emails of potential salary cuts, job cuts and bonus cuts t all employees. They do this so as to exert unlimited pressure on employees, hoping the latter delivers more in this tough phase. If your employee has served you for six years and you cannot take care of him for three months, you are the problem.

Hence WFH is excellent as an ‘option’, but not when forced down the throat and when the time period is uncertain.. ie how long will this last.

Conclusion

Having worked in corporate for 18 years, including at senior levels for a decade, my only advice would be:

  • Stay Calm. Stay Patient. Support your working and home-maker partner. This too shall pass. Your partner wants to stay with you life long, your boss doesn’t ..and wont.
  • Cost of ‘living’ isn’t high, it is the cost of ‘lifestyle’ that is high. You have a choice not to kill yourself getting insecure about that extra bit of money.

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Even pre-Lockdown, the stress on regular WFH employees was evident

Yuwee

Lastly, I come back to the topic of speculations, doubts, data leakage issues making rounds about security and safety while using Zoom software for video calls and chats.

If your company is open to change then WhatsApp me at +91-8863025701. Our Singapore based communication platform ‘Yuwee’ is
– Extremely simple and safe to use.
– Provides all basic features of Zoom.
– Upto 15 members video chat is free.
– Has its mobile applications also ready for use.
– One can join calls from email directly by clicking the link and hence no need for registration.
– Our user base finds it very convenient, easy, safe and secure. #YuWee

Message me at +91-8863025701 if seriously interested for your firm. Have a look at the software click here on YUWEE.

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