The Curious Case Of Working From Home

And how it affected me slowly and silently

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The idea of work-from-home fascinated me the moment I stepped into the corporate world. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to experience it before 2020. Ironically, in this year, work-from-home is forced upon.
There is no other way; WFH is the way. It is the new normal way of working in the pandemic.

WFH is impressive, primarily as it saves traveling time and traffic-jam headaches. You can work wearing super-comfy clothes from your favorite, comfortable places in the house (wherever you get the WiFi signal). You have your family around. Moreover, you need not face your boss directly.
What else do you want?

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But like any other thing, WFH has a limit, and if crossed, it will show its true colors. (Yes, I know, 2020 has crossed boundaries in all aspects.)
After experiencing it for more than six months continuously and upon self-introspection, I realized its effects.

1. Haphazard routine

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When you do not have to go to the office, your mind and body take everything for granted in exchange.

Waking up just before logging in becomes the habit. It eventually hits your routine of breakfast and morning exercise (and often with bathing as well). Similarly, for working late along with other regional teams (just some business requirements), you presume it to be okay and allow it to happen.
What other work you may have apart from sitting at home anyway? Eh?
Working with other regional teams in the night and thus sleeping late and waking up at your usual time so that you can log in at the right time makes you sleep-deprived. You can have your favorite beverage- tea or coffee and snacks any time at your whim. And you do not miss these opportunities.
Wait, is this a healthy routine?

2. No in-person touch

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A human by nature is a social animal. We realized it the hard way this year.
No matter how introverted you are, you need people around you at some point in time. No matter if you are not-so-friendly with your colleagues, you need them. You need them in-person. You need them for nonsense talk over the coffee. The office gossips over the call lack the charm.
Jobs are not only for making money, but to build a social circle with whom you can communicate, socialize, and enjoy the present.

3. Excessive screen time

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When I analyzed my routine, I was shocked after calculating my screen-time. It was more than 12 hours. I was stunned.
Splitting it further, the office takes around 9–10 hours on screen.
In the name of entertainment- OTT platforms are screened.
Sometimes for the social mixup- video calls are dialed.
Social media is essential to remain updated with other’s lives.
Scroll, scroll, scroll.
Mobile games and Insta reels consume small work breaks.
All these activities account for in total 12+ hours a day.
Terrible and worrisome!
Earlier, the eyes were getting rest with in-person communication, traveling, going out with acquaintances. These activities are now taken over by screens of all types- big and small.

4. Infrastructure Gap

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It felt so lovely while setting up work essentials at home. It was fun arranging the desk with all requisites to match up with my office desk. I was hopeful that with excellent WiFi installed, I would get the same experience as my office desk. But I was wrong. My laptop couldn’t compete with my office desktop, although it was of decent configuration.
With VPN and other connectivity issues, often, there was slowness, which triggered the irritation. The office desktop used to work smoothly like butter, but its step-brother, the home laptop, not so much.
Network and internet issues are real!

There is a gap in such machine infrastructure as well as human infrastructure. In the office, one can go to someone’s desk and get the resolution then and there, while in WFH, it depends on both’s online availability.

5. Work-Email OCD

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We strive hard to keep a work-life balance. WFH is where we literally welcomed work to our home. We let it sit beside us. Even though we officially announce we are off the job, the work doesn’t leave our minds. It sits there idle but does not disappear so easily.

The problem is when you are working on some crucial task. Your mind doesn’t let the thoughts go away, even when you are off the terminal. The mind wants to check the updates on it- from time to time. This feel triggers the urge to check work emails and messenger pings even at odd hours, further compromising already compromised sleep.

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While the boons of WFH were known, the side-effects of it when practiced for a longer duration were unknown. This WFH territory is new to us and it can become a prominent part of the work culture in the future. After experiencing it for a sufficient time now, it’s now essential to think rationally about the future of WFH. The main challenge is to counterbalance on-office and off-office work.
The post-pandemic period is coming, and we need to be prepared with this balance to lead a happy work atmosphere.

Author. IITian. Software Professional.