English Insights

Is your WFH a WTH?

By Shehara Alahakoon

Yes, we say that we are so used to working from home by now. But, are we really?
Are you ready to continue working from home for another month or two? Some would say yes and some would say no.
The ones who say that they would love to continue WFH are the lucky ones. They are in 3 categories (solely my opinion):

1. They have a perfect balance of work and personal life
2. They are loaded with work and no family life but is not bothered by it so much (no judgment here)
3. They hardly work and has ample time to pamper themselves and be with their families (these are the truly lucky ones, aren’t they?)

For whatever the reason, they are happy with WFH so they are not really my topic of the day.
The ones who said ‘NO’ to WFH and wants to get back to working from office as soon as possible – this is FOR them.
Once again, solely based on my understanding, I would say that these employees belong to below categories:

1. A heavy work load therefore no personal life
2. Unable to balance work and personal life
3. Too many distractions from family members
4. Lack of social life
5. Stressed out and worried

Okay – quite a few categories I would say.
If we look at the first, what do you think went wrong? As an employee what can you do about this? The first and the best thing to do is reach out to your immediate mentor. S/he knows the best of your work schedule and most importantly, your work capacity. Be open, talk to him / her. However, make sure that you do not misuse this opportunity. Do not let the lazy lion in you wake up to do the talking for you. We all need to understand that all the industries have taken a hit from this pandemic and your employer is, and should be, going above and beyond to keep the existing clientele satisfied and feel valued. So you will be, and must be, playing a role in this, which led to a work load increase.

This is where the employers need to draw the line. Employers should always consider retaining clients and on the other hand making sure that your employees are given realistic targets. The HR personnel should always be in touch with the employees and check up on them, not on work, but check in, to see if the employees are happy or unhappy about the way things are. Talk – talk – talk…do not let each other drift apart. I believe that WFH is similar to a long distance relationship – unless both parties are honest to each other and constantly keep in touch, eventually the relationship will be failed. Do not let this happen to your employee – employer relationship.

Let’s look at the second and third categories. Most people are unable to balance work and personal life – this does not apply to WFH only but also in general. However WFH may make it worse. The whole family must be at home and may be all the adults are working from home while the kids are e-schooled. This is not easy – it’s the exact opposite. It’s chaos. Both employer and employee need to be on the same page here, if not it will tend to be stressed and disappointed (for both parties!).

Kids could be screaming at the top of their voices, must be always hungry so that the parents have become constant chefs on an hourly basis, the elderly at home might need extra care these days etc. Once again, talk to your immediate mentor. Explain the situation. HR may speak to the employee and understand the real issues. One of the major concerns I heard was that the kids need the computer to join e-learning while the parents need it for work (this situation worsens when there are more than one kid to e-learn).

Once again, talking is the best solution. Employers can arrange flexible working schedules where parents can work around the learning schedules of their children. Or could offer an extra computer which is vacant at work which can be returned once resume work at the office.
If we think about it, there are solutions for any and all problems. We just need to speak to the right person and that right person needs to weigh the situation and offer the right solution to the employees.

The fourth and fifth categories. Sigh – didn’t some of us hate meeting people, getting dressed up and going out? Or was it just me? Anyway, no matter how much an introvert one is, this isolation / social distancing have pushed us in to a corner. We all want to go out, talk to other people, travel. Yes, if you are a keen traveler who was never available on weekends cause you were traveling around – you must be stressed out, fed up and disappointed. But, remember, this may depress you but you are alive to be depressed. That one party you could not attend, that one vacation you could not go on, that one brunch you missed – your life is more important than all these. So let’s try our best to look at the positive (ahem) side of this situation and be happy for what we have today. We have a job we could complain about, we have a house that we are confined to, we have family members who we are stuck with – the list goes on.

This is just a phase, talk to your colleagues, talk to your HR personnel, they may not be able to give you a solution (because the pandemic is out of the control of the HR department) but they could listen to you. They can share their experience with you – the little tips they have picked up during their own WFH period. Just like we worked together with our teams at work, we need to walk this virtual journey together with all. Hold their hands and share your thoughts and concerns. The solutions may pop up and the problem may not be a problem at all. So let’s not make this a WTH period but let’s make this an effective, productive WFH period.

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