Work Life Balance during Covid 19 Pandemic and Work from Home

Dr.R.D.Mishra. Work Life Balance concept first appeared in The United Kingdom in the 80’s as a plank in the Women’s Liberation Movement which ultimately became meaningful at the workplace in daily Achievement and Enjoyment in each of four life quadrants: Work, Family, Friends and Self.

In present day context Work-Life Balance involves looking at how working people manage time spent in and outside of work.

Time outside of work may include managing relationships, family responsibilities, and other outside interests and hobbies. Having a healthy work-life balance means that employees will be happier when they come to work, this, in turn, helps employees reduce stress and the chances of burnout, which are most common health issues in the workplace.

Recently Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin called for the introduction of a flexible work schedule in the country, which would mean Finnish employees would only work six hours a day, four days a week for maintaining a healthy Work Life balance.

During Covid-19, lockdown most of the companies, particularly Information Technology (IT), Service Sector and even to some extent manufacturing sectors  have instructed their employees to Work from home which is a good initiative for sustainable growth of Companies vis-a-vis Nation.

This way most probably companies are saving on several counts like, Electricity, Transportation, Canteen, Travel and misc activities, apart from maintaining their output.

Some Internationally renowned Companies have extended Work from home up to next year till June 2021.

Google CEO Mr Sundar Pichai wrote

work life balance

In an email to employees, on 27th July 2020 Google CEO Mr Sundar Pichai wrote: “To give employees the ability to plan ahead, we are extending our global voluntary work from home option through June 30, 2021 for roles that don’t need to be in the office.

Similarly other companies like, Face book, Microsoft, Amazon, Deutsche Bank etc. gone for work from home initiatives.  

Indian Companies have also followed suit like, Infosys, HCL Technologies. Wipro Limited, Tech Mahindra Ltd. Info gain. Info edge etc.

The department of telecom has extended the exemption given to the IT & ITeS industry to work from home till December 2020.

This type of Virtual organisation is going to stay for a long, may be partially it may become the culture of future organisations.

In order to know, how employees feel working from home, author conducted on line telephonic interview of some 85 employees of organisation who have implemented to work from home.

The stratified samplaling was selected from Metros and big cities, state capitals etc involving, large and medium scale organisations.

The result revealed, did most astonishing which is as such :

employees feel working from home survey results

1.    59 % employees were not happy due to excessive workloads and continuous interaction on Laptop and Mobile with no time set.

2.    48% employees were not happy as companies do not spare time even to take lunch. Some employees expressed on the condition of anonymity that after the lock down they will join educational Institutes as they were competent to get jobs, due to too much of the work demand

3.    27% employee’s express the feeling that they are always under the severe stress (Even when they go to toilet, will carry the laptop)

4.    43% Employees’ complaints of loss of hearing capacity due to all the time talking on mobile and by evening suffer from headache apart from bad effect of electromagnetic radiation in the body.

5.    44% Employees responded that they have to follow instruction, as there is a fear of losing the job.

6.    76% employees expressed not feeling good as compared to work from office/workplace.

7.    52 % women employees expressed their feeling that in spite of staying at home cannot take care of children due to excessive work pressure.

8.    24% Employees of HR discipline expressed their feeling having been given most strenuous/unholy task of requesting/persuading selected employees to resign as company cannot bear the load of financial burden.

9.    18% responded express lack of concentration due to noisy neighbours, family or uncalled visitors.

10. 22% expressed lack of effective supervision and monitoring working from home as compared to office.

Companies should take appropriate steps

Looking at the findings of the survey, Companies should take appropriate steps to create a situation where Work Life Balance becomes, healthy, effective and meaningful so that employees take more interest towards work and are more productive.

India is still in its embryonic stage on the parameter of Work Life Balance. Some of the countries which have achieved good index in this regard are as follow;

1.    Netherlands; Ranked  best in the World for work-life balance, only 0.5 percent of employees work long hours, compared with the overall average of 13 percent, as reported by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED) which is working as watchdog towards Work Life Balance  in the World. The country also has a high childhood satisfaction rate of 93 percent.

2.    Denmark; A survey of Inter Nations found that Denmark has the shortest work week (an average of 39.7 hours) of countries surveyed. Furthermore, the state provides childcare for children up to the age of six, and parents are entitled to 52 weeks of paid maternity leave.
3.    France; The French enjoy five weeks minimum of paid vacation time. The law establishes the workweek as 35 hours, although overtime does happen.

Similarly there are so many other countries like, Spain, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Germany etc. have achieved a good score on Work Life Balance.

Some Tips to remain safe for employees working from homeKeep a distance of at least two feet from Laptop or computer to avoid eyestrain

1.    Maintain a distance of at least one feet from Smart phone.

2.    Take short break every 30-40 minutes & Stretch out for rejuvenating energy.

3.    Avoid working in blue light as it is harmful.

4.    Use regularly eye drop/get to clear dust particles, if any.

5.    Keep your laptop up so that the screen is in level with your eyes. This will help you avoid constantly hunching your back or looking down.

Maintain a straight spine by keeping shoulders, hips and ears aligned.

7.    Use a full-sized keyboard and mouse whenever possible.

8.    Keep your wrists straight while typing and position the keyboard at elbow height.

9.    Finally, when you are working from home Children expect some attention. So take care of children and other family members.

To sum up organisations need to be more proactive in this regard, not only during Lock down even after.
This will provide a positive environment in the organisation, employees remain stress free; maintain good health, develop positive inter personal relations which will certainly boost productivity towards sustainable growth.
Of course there are no fixed ways and means to implement and maintain healthy Work Life Balance; it is Organisations exclusive, which should not be at the cost of Productivity and Profitability.
There is a saying “Where there is a will, there is a way”

Dr. E.D. Mishra

Director, Greater Noida Productivity Council

Frm Director & Head, National Productivity Council, GOI

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