This is what I had written a couple of years back…
We all crave to spend more time with our loved ones, don’t we? Working from home gives that opportunity to those of us who are fortunate to have our loved ones with us. Schools in the UAE have already declared holidays, and so those of us with kids have them at home as well. Don’t see them as a disturbance – an impediment in that all-important conference call that you have to attend with a key client. You are working hard for their sakes, at the end of it. Divide the day into time-slots – some for focus on work, and some where you can take a 10-15 minute break and spend time with your family. After all, you are saving travel time (usually at least an hour a day) – slot that time as family time instead. Have breakfast, lunch and dinner with them, and keep the phones away during that time.
You may end up finding that working from home makes you more productive (due to a more relaxed environment) and happier (since you can spend more quality time with family).
In the UAE, a large number of expatriates do not have that option – they live alone here, working hard and earning for their families back in their home countries. If you are one of them, look at the bright side of not going to work – saving commute time (if by metro, a crowded commute as well), relaxation of washroom schedules (if you live in a shared accommodation), and generally speaking, a more relaxed environment where you can pace out your work.
Cut to 2022. The story seems a bit different.
While working from home has it’s merits, too much of the good thing is also not good. People found that WFH for longer times made them disconnected from their colleagues, lesser fit and generally resulted in resistance when asked to return to work.
So what happened?
Man is a social animal. From tens of thousands of years, man has always been living in groups, big and small. Isolation works for a while – you get to spend time doing what you want and how you want it – but then nature takes over. And human nature craves for interaction. Communication – good or bad. Liveliness, gossip, sharing – all go into the mix. And most of these were missing when we worked from home for extended periods of time.
I would advocate a bit of both – the hybrid model, where both work from home and from office co-exist – fluidity of timings, focus on getting things done rather than sitting at work for a fixed period of time.
More importantly, spending quality time with loved ones. Covid seems to be the beginning of a chapter in history which may be different from the relative peace and calm that we have had over the past two decades. When it comes down to it, all we truly care is about the ones we spend time with. Be it family or be it yourself. You might as well enjoy all the time you get…