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COVID-19 and its Ripple Effects on Working Arrangements: A New World Order?
The whole world is dealing with the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, a health crisis and a recession. This pandemic has and will change everything our lives revolve around and one can be sure things won’t be the same once we emerge on the other side from this virtual standstill. In this time of crisis and change, people have experienced a sense of helplessness, apprehension and uncertainty. Even once the panic is over and the virus subsides, its overpowering effects will have “rippled” into every piece of people’s lives, and to a large extent, work.
Jameela Kagalwala, senior writer – www.Dubai-Forever.Com, says “The definition of "normal" will change in the near future and while adapting to this alternate normal we are acquiring new skills and knowledge that we might not want to abandon”. Work from home (WFH) or Remote Working as some may refer to it will become a commonplace phenomenon in the face of uncertainty. It has become critical for the corporate sector in this climate to hit the accelerator and weather this storm by transcending from run-of-the-mill and conventional work philosophy. The International Labour Organization has suggested that, to "protect workers in the workplace and to minimize the direct effects of the coronavirus, in line with WHO recommendations and guidance, organizations must "encourage appropriate flexible working arrangements such as teleworking" for their employees.
People are watching as their work-lives get disrupted, positively, from the rusty old methods to the present-day ways. But it will take time, effort and unity to navigate through this new reality together. Remote digital teamwork and teleworking will become the norm during and even after the outbreak. People have been working remotely since time immemorial but now this trend may enter the mainstream. A general but erroneous view is that working from home is relaxing or "taking it easy", although time and again, research has proved that when done right, teleworking can improve employee productivity, creativity, and morale. Let’s just say, a flexible, physically distributed workforce is a magic formula for the future of work.
Straight-shooting, the virus is cataclysmic but it has catalysed a restructuring of traditional ways of going about life, like online instruction and flexi-working, resulting in a flood for the development of video conferencing technology, communication platforms, and other collaboration tools. This "social isolation” has unveiled one truth − that we can work very productively and effectively while sitting in the warm embrace of our homes. For some this psychological segueing could be very challenging in these testing times, despite that it comes as no surprise that the majority of the dynamic workforce is pining for modern convenience.
A staggering impact of WFH was seen on the mental health of the people. Out of the 1,035 remote workers studied by ZenBusiness, 60% said they noticed an improvement in their psychological well-being compared with those who work full time; a recipe to feeling happier and more engaged. Another pay-off is on the physical wellness of employees, WFH gives employees the autonomy and flexibility to incorporate a fitness and exercise regime in their routine, 40% of the respondents also stated that their diet had improved when working remotely, a very tangible benefit. Remote workers are on the whole committed and satisfied employees… after all who wouldn’t love working in their sweatpants?!
WFH appears to lower stress levels, improve personal relationships, and in the bargain, offers additional hours to indulge in hobbies and leisure activities thus allowing for a healthy work-life balance. Plus, co-worker relationships become well-conditioned due to fewer pointless distractions and the absence of office politics. Employees can even steer clear of that tittle-tattle colleague or their micro-managing boss looking over their shoulders.
A massive chunk of an employees’ time is spent in journeying to and fro from their workplace, an uncomfortable experience as it is, the daily work commute is time misspent. WFH can lead to reduced commuting expenses, put more money back into employees’ pockets, and time wasted on travel can be channelled in working, relaxation, recreation, and entertainment, since they aren’t worn to a frazzle travelling. Consequently, productivity at work will spiral upwards.
Workers whose jobs are complex and require focus or troubleshooting often need to be left undisturbed to give serious thought to the immediate challenge and in a large shared office space with diversified functions there is the possibility of disruption and disturbance that can hinder the "flow state" of work. The Journal of Business and Psychology found that work that doesn't demand collaboration or collective work was executed ‘a cut above’ when out-working than when working in an office cubicle. COVID-19 has sparked an attitude adjustment concerning how organizations are "organized", in the wake of this isolation.
Businesses have come to realize that there are undoubtedly more economical, financially effective approaches to a successful business. Permitting employees to WFH can save a company anywhere between 20-25% costs. Over and above, telecommuters are disposed to working extra, proving to be advantageous to the employer. If you are looking for a new job, during or post-pandemic, Jameela Kagalwala stresses on the importance of adding these keywords while building your new resume. A Gallup poll in 2013, discovered that teleworkers document an additional 4 hours per week on average paralleled to their compeers in the office. WFH promises improved performance and increased employee retention, which translates to higher productivity and enhanced organizational citizenship. Lesser office space/ infrastructure, lower payroll costs, suitable workers who are empowered by location independence (not having to settle for mediocre) are some bells and whistles that employers can get.
A recent opinion poll from Glassdoor established that 67% of employees said they would second the decision by their employer to delegate employees to work from home perpetually due to the onset of coronavirus. Working from home will be extremely rewarding for workers and companies alike. In substance, companies will progressively start offering WFH for their employees in the long run, rendering the post-COVID era drastically different from the pre-COVID era.
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