After the onset of COVID-19, the first step businesses took was to protect their employees. They made necessary agreements and started arranging an alternative way of working, where employees did not have to come to the office. Yes, work from home was the first thing that employees were asked as soon as coronavirus started to sweep the whole world. It first began in China in December 2019 and in a blink, the whole world fell prey to this virus.
When employees were asked to work from home, it was joyous news to some, while others could not digest the fact that they no longer be seeing their colleagues for God knows how long. Who knows there are gazillions of employees who still find WFH overwhelming, so under such situations enterprises should offer more benefits for employees working from home?
Well, it is still known that what will be the effect of WFH on the innovation and collaboration of companies, but this is something that the leadership of each company should consider. Work from home is also affecting employees on a more serious level which is impacting their mental health.
Impact of Work from Home on the Economy
Not only Work from home is impacting innovation and collaboration but it has wrecked the economy on a greater level. Some of the big names like Emirates, Starbucks, KeepTruckin among others, laid off hundreds of employees just because their company could not bear the burden of so many employees. Lesser revenues resulted in many companies going bankrupt and in turn, they had to say goodbye to their loyal employees who had nowhere to go.
Companies had to take loans to meet the depreciating revenue levels in order to make sure the companies’ operations remain intact. There are many big names who are ready to help the sunken businesses in such a crisis.
Employers who couldn’t even afford the loan are taking a big step of closing their companies temporarily or even permanently. The world is still under the spell of the second wave of the pandemic and no one can predict exactly when we all will come out of this crisis.
Impact on Collaboration and Innovation
Work from home is not as easy as it sounds. Unknown technical issues, anxiety attacks, and the absence of interaction with colleagues have surely affected the well-being and productivity of employees. WFH is a hybridization of professional and personal lives because your home is your office and you cannot go anywhere else due to COVID-19. Every day you wake up and instead of dressing up and commuting to work you jump to another room and start working right away.
In the absence of face-to-face interaction with colleagues, inefficiencies can sweep into the collaborative process. Where in-person meetings were mandatory to exchange innovative ideas due to COVID-19 these have been limited to virtual meetings only. Due to this, collaboration and innovative brainstorming process has become ineffective. Though the companies are trying their best to provide tools that can enhance the operations, nothing can replace the physical interaction.
How Work from Home Is Impacting Mental Health?
The abrupt shift to work from home has proven to be stressful for many employees around the globe, says Dr. Dominique who is currently a professor of people, organizations, and society at Grenoble School of Business. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has observed an increase in workplace anxiety and depression. There are various ways listed that how work from home is deteriorating mental health.
Lack of physical connection
Employees are missing their social work circle. The main thing that kept them motivated in the office were their colleagues. Employees used to have a quick chit-chat with their colleagues at printer stands and coffee machines during short breaks to feel fresh and get back to work with a positive mindset. Now, everyone is stranded at their home, and there is no physical interaction at all, so people are feeling the lack of support as now they have n where to turn to when they are overburden with work. It has become challenging to build strong links with colleagues while working from home.
Working beyond shift hours
One of the most stressful things that are affecting mental health is long working hours. Now people do not have to commute back home, so they are spending more time tackling their everyday tasks and therefore, spending more time working. In doing so, they are consuming their mental health to the fullest which is not a good sign.
Back to back meetings can trigger fatigue
In a physical setup, it is impossible to hop on meeting back to back. Since everyone moved to work from home, employees are spending more time in meetings which can lead to fatigue. Unlike WFH, it is not possible to conduct back-to-back meetings in a physical environment so some employers are taking full advantage of the pandemic and asking for more work from their employees which they have not signed up for.
Heightening work stress and workload is a major source of anxiety and stress which is not a good sign of mental health and it ultimately reduces the productivity of employees.
Working from home is not all about negative things, but it is far from being the ultimate solution. Things remain uncertain that when will businesses get back to usual and even if we get back to offices how will we react to post-pandemic dynamics. Given the harsh reality, the long-term impact of WFH on innovation, collaboration, and mental health can be influenced by a company’s unique work from home policies and practices. Every employee on their own should remain vigilant and try to sail through the transition.