Pandemic, Work from Home & People Saga

Media Swaraj Desk

Covid-19, Pandemic ushered in India during March 2020 coinciding with Season of Summer, then after it became a norm to watch the rise & trend of cases every evening. As the pandemic was spreading through human touch and all forms of gatherings, people were worried about the risk at workplace and during commute. Eyes & ears were glued to news to hear & see something on the announcement of Work from home. While some of us had the feeling that the World was set to slow down, corporate were brainstorming on process re-engineering & procuring equipments to transition to a Work from home Model with minimal impact on productivity and performance.

Work from Home in India was considered to be a flexibility provided by Multinational Organizations to get an edge in the so called race of being an employee friendly organisation. While most of such organisations worked seamlessly & tirelessly to win yet another race of successfully transitioning into a complete WFH model, little was thought on People Well being.

The only people related practices or policies that were possibly looked after were Leave & Attendance Management. 

The initial feeling of employees ranged from being happy, safe, secured and went up to thinking that they will get to spend some more time with family,the the irony begins! As the work from home began, organizations in the quest to ensure productivity, introduced additional trackers, timesheets & several other methods to capture the daily input & output. While the Work from home was almost a compliance matter, it was somewhere perceived as an added benefit provided by the organizations.

While employees were adjusting to the Work From home, they were also struggling with managing household without domestic help, which was the new normal that most cities in India was trying to get accustomed to. Also, with kids & elderly restricted from going to parks & socialise, they required additional attention at home to acclimatise to this new environment. 

All employees needed some softer support, flexibility and empathy to its real meaning, whereas what they really experienced was quite different. Expectations from corporate were that everything should be scheduled from a 5 min talk to a 5 weeks plan. With the pandemic rising, no. of meetings, use of gadgets & screen time also rose in tandem leading to stress, emotional & physiological issues. All the leading newspapers reported rise in depression cases, anxiety issues and female health & stress issues. It was now the situation that this could have hampered the overall productivity and hence the need of Empathy & Employee Wellbeing was realized. Organizations started introducing various virtual wellness programs & orienting their managers on empathy. While there must have been some improvement in the employee experience but as organisation we are still far from practicing true Empathy, which was the very foundation of the concept of Work from home followed in many developed countries.

If only, a little priority was also given to People experience & well being as a part of WFH Transition planning, it could have been a different & delightful experience for employees at an emotional level. 

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