Who would have believed 2020 would see us going through a global pandemic, bringing the world to an abrupt standstill and forcing us to work from home. Many everyday things we considered normal such as going to work, meeting friends, and visiting family have become elements of a forbidden routine. This is certainly something that many of us haven’t experienced before.
When the phrase “work from home” is heard, a feeling of relaxation usually follows. The informality of working from home is often an exciting prospect, switching up the cyclical office to home routine, however since this rare circumstance has become part of our daily routine the excitement has inevitably dissipated.
There are a plethora of pros and cons of working from home.
Some of the pros include being able to simultaneously handle work and run domestic errands. We often get wrapped up in work, both mentally and physically, that household tasks are left on the back burner. The lack of commuting adds an extra few hours to our otherwise busy workday, a specific type of time that we have never experienced before. This newfound free time leads to another pro of working from home: acquiring new skills. Many of us have taken up long-forgotten hobbies or learned things we never thought time would allow us to.
On the other hand, some cons could be miscommunication between employees which could lead to tense situations and further stress to individuals. The lack of colleague interaction can often be confusing as many things are lost in translation.
There is a chance that employees might face a lot of stress while working from home as they do not have others to talk to and confide in. We are not just people who work together but a close community and when that sense community feels disjointed, employees can feel lost. Being in a busy office environment masks the stress of work as you feel like part of a team going through the same thing, so working from home can be isolating, taking a toll on your mental health.
During this pandemic, we need to both focus on and tackle the problem of mental stress. We need to take breaks from our work life and talk to either a family member, mentor, or senior member. Addressing mental health problems improves our happiness, satisfaction, and productivity at work. Another important aspect related to mental health is your physical health.
Within our company, we devote 15 minutes a day to a meditation session, yoga, or some desk exercises. This ensures that you’re keeping both physically fit and mentally destressing yourself. During this session, we come together with all our colleagues and escape the deadlines and pressure for a fraction of the working day. Another thing that we have implemented during this pandemic is that every Friday we have activities conducted by our activity committee. These frequent events are vital as they help employees to end the working week with a happy moment. The activity committee holds these events over zoom where all the members join and attempt to win prizes. This is something small and lighthearted we can do to combat the negativity within the world right now.
Another way to boost company morale during this pandemic was the introduction of SJ Health App. This app was developed by our company, thanks to our Wellness Committee. Some features include counting steps and recording exercise like many other Health and Fitness apps. Our first activity was to encourage employees to not sit in front of their computers all day and move around during long meetings. This keeps their minds and body off the chairs for a few minutes so that they are relaxed and not stuck to a mundane routine. Along with this, there were other activities conducted to inspire a healthy lifestyle. Several activities have actually helped a few employees to maintain their personal health and we could even see friendly competition blossoming within the company as there were prizes for the winners of these activities e.g. highest steps during a day, fastest to 10k steps.
A further reason that stress could build-up is the news. Even though we may not realize it, we are constantly receiving the news. Today news reaches our mind within seconds with the help of social media. Every single news channel reports on the virus and Covid-19’s trail of destruction in the world. Each minuscule update is constantly being fed into our line of consumption. This often brings inescapable negativity to us which would in turn be detrimental to our mental health. This negativity could change us mentally and could also lead us to spread the negativity that we have experienced to others. Some people wish to escape the incessant reports of the virus and aren’t interested in hearing statistical updates. Regardless of the devastation happening within this world at this moment we must have hope and stay positive. If you feel that watching all this news could take a toll on your mind, avoid watching it and instead watch TV shows or films. Negativity impacts your productivity level at work as you’re clouded by worry and fear, cutting you off from your team members.
An important aspect of our lives that most of us have realized during this pandemic is family. We are usually so busy with work that free time to spend with our family is scarce. Many of us are utilizing the time we have with family during this pandemic which would be otherwise impossible if we were in the office every day. Spending time with family is important for both us and them. Our family is our support system and a safe space to be yourself. As we are working from home the constant company from our family benefits No one knows us better than our family members and the advice they give is unmatched. Several of us have been watching films together, baking treats, gardening, and creating art with our loved ones. These moments are invaluable and wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the global pandemic.