With more and more organisations announcing working from home, we, as employees, are going to struggle over two or three weeks to adjust to a new rhythm of work. Work from home (WFM) or telework is not a new concept and has been an experiment with mixed results in several countries. However, the scale at which employees are asked to work from home now, in the face of Covid-19, is unprecedented.
Working from home alters three boundaries: spatial, temporal and psychological.
Spatial: When employees work from home, the physical boundary separating work and home disappears. We can no longer walk to another desk for assistance, and this can be quite uncomfortable for first time remote workers. Infrastructural challenges (of remote logins or data security) can seem daunting and breed a sense of insecurity. The loss of friends and colleagues to whom we can complain, or vent exacerbates the feelings of physical isolation.
Temporal: Prior research shows that in remote work, employees tend to lose perspective of the beginning and end of a working day. Many people are likely to either work fewer hours or longer hours till they get adjusted to the routine. These altered timings can have implications for communication with colleagues, especially when work schedules do not overlap or overlap for shorter periods of time. Such changes in time schedules also result in blurring of boundaries between notions of personal time and work-related time.
Psychological: One is more likely to find it difficult to negotiate personal and professional spaces while working from home. In the Indian context, WFH may be seen as a “part holiday” and the expectation would be that the employee should participate in the social and familial activities at home.
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March 28, 2020