5 things work from home has taught us during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 working style
The year of 2020 working style will be written in the history in various shades. While the center point will be around the virus that created havoc and claimed millions of lives worldwide, it also tells a story of humankind’s greatest fightback in medical history. We saw how countries could work together, how medical teams and research teams can work together, how hygiene habits can become necessary do in our lives, how online relations take precedence over physical ones and so on.
Similarly, one thing we all learned in 2020 is how we can continue to carry on our professional duties without going to offices. “Work from home”– a catch phrase which was often used as a senior management or HR privilege became a reality in everyone’s life. While many companies, many employees, many corporate structures grappled in the initial months, gradually everyone found a way to work from home as working style. The confinement of homely life and managing work in midst of family presence did catch many off guard, but like every experience in life it had many learnings. Here is a look at few of them.
Lesson 1: You CAN work from home
This may sound a bit cliché. But honestly, the biggest learning for both corporates and employees alike from this incident is the proof that work can be done from home if there is a will. From customer care to sales meetings – excuse of not being able to present physically should not be a roadblock anymore. Office spaces, long travelling hours – all excuses goes out of the window. Startups had always managed to work with limited office space, however keeping the work going when members are physically apart is a new thing to learn for them too. Big corporates learned how resource pool could be optimized using CRM or virtual meetings and how overheads of fancy office spaces could be cut down.
Lesson 2: You CAN work on your own
If this sounds as a repetition of the first point, then hold on. How many times did we complain in offices about lack of support from other departments? How many times did we refuse to pick up jobs profiles that were individual contributor roles? Teams, Supports, Colleagues – all are necessary. But bigger than all of that is the importance of being self-reliant. The sense of responsibility that every employee picked up in this pandemic to keep the work happening proved his or her worth. No squabbles from team, no passing the bucks, no complaining of lack of support – people just took up what they needed to do, and got it done. There were hiccups and the process was not perfect. Nevertheless, it set a precedence like never before for team dynamics and self-reliance.
Lesson 3: Internal motivation is better than external motivation
HR motivational talks, mails, training sessions were not there the entire year. So, the people who survived were the ones who were driven by internal motivation. As a working style We woke up daily, started our laptop and went with our tasks without cribbing about our work, salary, company culture, boss etc. In fact, with economy taking a nose dive across the world, with companies cutting down on manpower – every person who had job worked hard to keep it that way. This internal motivation of working extra hard and survive will shape many young people’s character in coming days.
Lesson 4: Work Life Balance
Separating your work life from family life while staying with the family is not an easy thing to do in past working style. It probably was tougher than not being able to avoid bringing work at home. Considering the fact that many working couples stay in small flats in big cities, it was not easy to find isolated working corners we were used to in office chambers. It was also not easy to manage work side by side with the increased chores at home. But we learned to manage. This has paved a way for future where we will now be better learned in ways to manage family and work life together.
Lesson 5: Time Management
We have all learned to manage our time much better in this period of working from home. This is because, unlike in office where we followed the routine. It is true that the office life was marred with hundreds of distractions of office gossips, unwanted breaks and unplanned meetings. At home, we learned to manage the time better, divide in among work that matters and take break only when needed. All surveys done around this time shows that the productivity of individuals increased manifold during the pandemic time.
Lesson 6: Importance of staying connected
Not everyone was always people friendly even though companies always pushed for it. The pandemic taught us to be more social than we ever were. There were human relations and team dynamics into consideration. For example, someone who always worked Face to Face with his reporting manager needed to make his presence felt in this changing ecosystem. A lot of people who managed to work in silos and survived in the corporate world, found there importance been questioned in this new world. Hence, team leaders were extra vigilant and management was extra calculative. These often-meant remote employees had to be more active on email or potentially even ask for weekly check-ins. We all learned, although it can be easy to cop out of meetings when you work from home, it’s better to always be a quick phone call away to assure you stay a part of the team.
Lesson 7: Know yourself and your potential hours
Working from home also meant working always from home. Most people got the liberty of completing their tasks within a range of 24 hours rather than 8 or 9 hours of office time. This meant, people learn to know when they work best. Not everyone is a morning person, many feel lethargic after lunch, many other peak their performance late evening or night when the world around goes to sleep. Accordingly, people learned to allocate their working time. This obviously meant better productivity. Corporate bosses also learnt to go easy on unreasonable deadlines and allow people to deliver. For those who did not manage to stand up to the challenge of changing environment will find their career growth curtailed.
Lesson 8: Importance of Gadgets and Technology Know How
There was no tech support while working from home. So, most of us needed to manage our own laptops, own installations and own internet connections. Not being able to get connected would not have been an excuse accepted and we realised it. The importance of knowing how basic technology works is something that we all realised and this will go a long way in shaping up the new work force of future.
The pandemic was not a period to cherish. But it did leave its mark in ways where the corporate workforce will emerge out to be better than ever. In the days to come, we will see a much more confident, motivated and self reliant workforce – thanks to all the learnings of work from home. For those who fails to adapt to these changing ways, may not find much headway in the new world.