I have been “working from home” since February of 2020. The first few weeks of WFH, I cannot complain. Team meetings were in full swing, back-to-back, and a new way of conducting reviews of various aspects of the business.
Later many challenges have come forth:
Screen-fatigue due to long-duration usage of Conferencing tools like Google-meet, Zoom, Go-to-meeting, air meet, webinar tools, etc.
Obviously, we start to miss the social connection & bonding.
the ability to quickly get relevant people together in one room, face-to-face, interact, resolve a conflict situation, escalations, solve an integration problem, etc.
To accomplish this in the situation of “Work from home”, you have to surmount the following challenges:
- Scheduling – If you are a group of 5, it is not easy to find a common slot, and for the entire slot. Individuals will arrive late from some other call, or fall of early into another important call. Genuinely so, because customer calls get priority.
- When this does not work very efficiently, you may have to set up follow-up calls, so that we complete the agenda that was planned, and to get everyone on the same page.
- You sometimes follow it up through emails, and obviously, it will be a long thread of emails and does a much longer time – could sometimes take over a week – that is an actual delay!
- All the time we are missing real-time interaction because real-time interactions also include healthy interruptions. So much more difficult to meaningfully interrupt during an AV call.
- Hiring online, onboarding, assigning such individuals to their managers, getting them tasked, all without meeting the person, sounds a bit scary to old-timers like me.
“What you see is What you get”, may not work if this entire process is done online.
- As humans, we are social animals, we are happy to meet with friends, and colleagues and have happy conversations, talk about fond memories, laugh, share happiness, and Challenges (that you may not even be able to share in an office environment, forget online!
- An optimal duration to accomplish a team task (and the estimate of effort), seems to be taking longer due to the above reasons.
- Each one of us is sitting most of the time, sitting in the same chair, sometimes for too many hours. Risk of developing back pain, changing postures, etc. Very few opportunities to walk about, particularly outside homes. If you have a Gym at Home or you have the habit of doing regular exercises like Yoga or Tai Chu, that is great. If not, we may start reversing Darwin’s theory of evolution. We may develop a slouch, bent posture, other ailments related to a sedentary lifestyle, etc.
- There is no fixed “lunchtime” because you are at home, and your mind knows you can be flexible when you want to eat, sometimes even overeat. Eating habits can go haywire.
- More time at home, the probability of disagreements with your near & dear ones! extend the famous saying “familiarity could lead to contempt”. I am joking!
- If you are lucky, you may get to polish your skills in Gardening, Furniture repair, Household Handyman, etc.
The other side of the story. The COVID19 induced Lockdowns have given us an understanding of numerous things we had “taken for granted”. Whenever needed you could just pick up your stuff get into your car and drive away! Change your mind on where you want to go, even when you are en route. Freedom to commute and travel.
Most of us were used to going out for dinner, wanting to try different cuisines, different restaurants. Could not do that anymore, once the “lockdowns” were imposed. Curtailed our freedom to enjoy different kinds of food, we could otherwise do.
The Covid19 related constraints, including lockdowns, have made us understand how inevitably we have come to depend on telecommunication, cell phones, computers (Desktop, laptop, #Ipad, etc.), and most importantly reliable and High bandwidth Internet.
We use the Internet and Apps to order all household items, to Work, to trade, to business, to keep in touch with friends, to follow the news, so we know what’s happening in the world, especially new findings around Covid19, its new versions, mutations, preventive measures, Standard Operating Procedures, vaccines, treatment plans, and more importantly to keep ourselves Entertained (watch movies and so on), in such depressive times, etc.
I cannot imagine if a similar Pandemic had happened during the pre-Mobilephones, pre-Internet, and pre-Broadband Era. When I graduated from an Engineering program, we had none of these available, which is about 36 years ago.