For those who don’t know yet, my whole team and me have been working remotely, from 15 months now.
That is more than a year, working from our homes, or WFH, as it is called.
Today got me thinking – what next? Do we continue this way even after the storm has cleared? Or would we have to go back to how things were?
I guess when it started, everyone (me included) thought of this as a 5-10 day thing. Who knew that things would come to this?
A year down the line, I have observed two schools of thought – one, advocating WFH going forward, and the other, desperately wishing to return to ‘normalcy’.
I belong to the increasing tribe of the third school of thought – the hybrid.
In my opinion, as I have stated in my posts earlier, the knowledge economy is not 9 to 5. In fact, the whole absurdity of having a 9 to 5 mechanism for service-based industries has reduced productivity, caused stress and wastage both of time and resources.
On the other hand, the last year has also brought about Zoom stress, and a lot of people now complain that they work more than before. Also, the distinct separation between work and not-work has blurred, since your ‘office’ is a 10 second commute to the next room, or the kitchen table. Some people are not able to switch off.
I feel that going forward, we should not lose what we gained during the pandemic. Offices can stagger timings – why do all offices in the DIFC have to open at 9 am and cause traffic jams every single day? Why set out at the same time as well?
Why does one have to work 9 to 5 in office, bring some work home, and then continue to respond to emails and calls till late?
Do you really want your employees to commute 30-45 minutes one way and arrive a bit stressed, when they can log in from wherever and still continue to perform?
Collaborating is essential, and so one can have jamming sessions every week – maybe two times, 3-4 hours a session. This makes it more productive and to the point, following which individuals can work on their stuff either at the jamming outlet, or when they are back home.
Such sessions can be scheduled on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays, so that Mondays and Fridays can be WFH exclusively.
Even this doesn’t have to be written in stone. Worktimes can be fluid, with productivity being the parameter of measurement, not timing. After all, as employers, isn’t productivity what matters?
Employees can factor in the saved commute time into their schedules, and use this time for health-related activities, such as exercise, meditation and yog.
Employers can explore hiring staff in remote locations, and even offer their staff soft incentives such as extended holidays in their home countries, with a flexible work schedule thrown in to compensate. A win-win for both.
Overall, the office of the near future should thrive on collaborative tools, data exchange, fluidity in timings, better work-life balance and more flexibility. I feel that such an environment will only help us thrive, both mentally and physically.