Work From Home - Why and How?

Given the increasing number of cases of COVID-19 in India, several employers, including global majors such as Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Flipkart, Apple, Amazon, have rolled out mandatory work-from-home policies.

So what exactly is work from home? Just what the name suggests! You don’t go to office physically but perform your official duties and tasks from your home. While ‘Work From Home’ is a popular way of working in many countries, it is relatively new for a country like India.

So Why is it important?

In recent days, the number of COVID-19 cases has seen an exponential increase in India and overall in the Indian subcontinent, giving a cause for concern to the global community about the wide-spread outbreak of the pandemic in the world’s second most populated country. According to ICMR Experts, currently India is in stage 2 of COVID 19, but is on the verge of transition into Stage 3 after which it would be very difficult for Indian healthcare infrastructure to deal with this.

Pandemics / infectious diseases see a four stage progression period where in Stage 1 is getting imported cases, Stage 2 is local transmission, Stage 3 is community transmission and Stage 4 is when it turns into an epidemic. Community transmission happens when a patient who is not exposed to anyone known to be infected and has not travelled to countries in which the virus is circulating tests positive for infection.

Need of the Hour – Social Distancing

As India prepares itself for the Stage 3 of COVID-19 infection, it is important for organizations to follow the concept of ‘Social Distancing’, which has helped several countries, including China, the epicenter of Coronavirus, curb the exponential spread of the disease. So what does ‘Social Distancing’ actually mean?

1. What is Social Distancing?

In simple words, Social Distancing refers to increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. This requires that we curtail social contact by staying away from larger crowds and public spaces.

2. Why is it important?

Social Distancing is aimed at creating physical vacuum between people by cutting down on in-person interactions. When people meet less often, they are more unlikely to either be a carrier or meet one; thereby protecting themselves, as well as their family and colleagues from COVID-19.

3. Work From Home – An Important Tool For Social Distancing

Social Distancing prescribes ‘curtailing social contact’ even for work or professional activities. But, while trying to counter COVID-19, it is not feasible to suspend all business activities as it would deeply hurt the economics of an organization and lead to grave consequences in the future. This is why employers have opted for ‘Work From Home’ option, which limits social contact, keeps employees safe, while also ensuring that regular work continues, keeping the company on track to achieve its organizational goals.

What is required to make Work From Home Successful / Productive?

It is clear that work from home is the responsible thing to do in the current situation. However, can anyone perform all their duties and meet all their task deadlines from a remote location with no in-person contact with their colleagues and managers. The answer is ‘Yes’! But in order to make work from home successful or productive; employee and employers need to ensure some basic pre-requisites, which are as follows:

1. Orientation: The first and foremost thing that you need to make your work from home stint successful is the right orientation. Orient yourself to understand that ‘Work from Home’ is not a Holiday. Treat Work from Home as a real job and be mentally and physically prepared for it accordingly.

2. Work Space: The second pre-requisite to making Work From Home successful is the right work environment. Set up an ad-hoc, exclusive work space for yourself which has all the necessary basics that you need to perform your daily tasks. This includes technology aids including a laptop, internet connection and seating space that enables to sit in correct posture for long periods.

3. Work Environment: Work Environment refers to creating boundaries within the home space and help family members and others understand its importance and sanctity. Make sure that your family understands that you are working from home and therefore doesn’t distract you from your tasks and responsibilities. For instance, if you have an important business call to attend, you should have a quite environment available without any noise of other distractions; this is where work environment will help you.

4. Communication: One of the biggest challenges that managers and employees working from home face is of ‘Right Communication’. With no direct or in-person contact, assigning tasks and seeking clarifications about it becomes a major hassle. This is where right communication comes into picture. While working remotely, it is important to define the work commitments and expectations that you need to fulfil as part of your Work from Home Routine. Break down these important work commitments into important landmarks and keep your manager or supervisors appraised about your progress. Also, maintain a regular and healthy communication channel with your colleagues, peers and seniors to understand where you stand in terms of organizational goals and expectations.

To sum up…

COVID 19 is a very real threat to everyone and requires utmost precautions at all levels. It is likely to progress into the next stage of community transmission if the required steps are not taken. Therefore, Social Distancing is the need of the hour and Work From Home is an important aspect of the same. In such a scenario, it is important for both the employers and employees to keep the above guidelines in mind to make work from home successful and productive.

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