WFH and Efficiency – Can Tech Replace the Human Angle?

WFH is not a new concept. Even before Corona Virus  outbreak, many people chose to work from home or were allowed by their workplace to work from home. Cybermedia itself is one such organisation. It has for years encouraged WFH among its employees. So what’s new about this WFH enforcement?  The new detail is that it’s an enforcement and second, people are stuck inside their homes. They can’t move out because there’s a lockdown. So does this kind of WFH impact the efficiency of the workers and what are the elements of impact?

In a study by  SCIKEY MindMatch,  99.8% of IT workers are not able to   produce effectively in an enforced WFH environment. There are many reasons for it. WFH by itself is not so incapacitating, as many IT workers are  quite used to working by themselves, without interacting  much. The debilitating feature is their inability to move out of the house, inability to  relate to an environment that is not “professional” and inability to  have a conversation about the work details as in an office situation.

While  companies are struggling to understand the full implications of remote engagement, compensation packages could undergo a change in the future, say experts. Measuring productivity in appraisal processes could undergo a change as disruption sets into the workplace.”

–Kavil Ramachandran, Clinical Professor and Executive Director, Thomas Schmidheiny Centre for Family Enterprise, Indian School of Business

The apprehension about the probability to get the Corona Virus may also pressurise the workers and  decrease their efficiency level. Besides, no matter how advanced and wonderful a technology is, it can’t replace the human angle. Human beings are naturally made to relate to others at home and  at workplace. WFH situation takes away from them this ability to be able to relate to their colleagues in a professional situation.

“This is an occasion where a large number of people are working from home at the same time. This requires coordination, dialogue and communication among team members and line managers. We have Microsoft Teams in place as well as a helpline to address queries. Check-ins happen virtually and we have provided the infrastructure to employees to help them work while at home.”

–Anuradha Razdan, Executive Director, HR, HUL

The fact remains that digital communication platforms can’t match a physical, face to face meeting where people can relate to each other and build relationships. In India, women have to face a double pressure in an enforced WFH setting. In the metro cities, many women  lead a single lifestyle and they stay alone anyway. Interacting in the workplace setting or even if they’re  in a WFH setting, ability to go out and mix with people gives them an outlet. In an enforced lockdown situation, they don’t get this outlet and have to carry the double load of having to  cook all the meals at home and work simultaneously. In a family environment, it  can cause other types of complications, as different family members may have different types of work needs and a single home environment may not be able to fulfil  them.

The sudden lockdown and enforced WFH situation can lead to rising cases of depression and bring down the efficiency level, no matter how advanced technology they’re using.

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