The effects of working from home

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    EVEN the Jetsons, that seventies cartoon about the future with Rosie the Robot as kasambahay and all the automated gadgets to brush teeth, bathe, cook and had lead character George Jetson travel from his house to work via a self-driving flying car. He didn’t work-from-home.

    As the pandemic changed the whole business landscape, the initial researches done on teleworking assumed that working from home was a choice rather than a necessity. Before the pandemic businesses (not many in the Philippines) offered telecommuting as an alternative, for those who prefer to work from home for personal (like sickness or disability) to domestic (like taking care of young children or sick relatives) reasons.

    A study of 366 Facebook accounts and their equivalent Twitter and Instagram pages revealed many interesting things about working from home and the lockdown. This study, made by Malaya Business Insight included over 289 responses to a Google survey sent to these same netizens asking questions about the lockdown and working from home.

    Many (this writer included) see the WFH option as one that is most suited to personal circumstances (like commuting distance and time). 62 percent of the people surveyed disliked it because of mostly physical factors like space, noise, and connectivity. 78 percent believed there is a need for in-person discussion and face-to-face meetings. Thrust into the pandemic-induced arrangement 60 percent are asking for a “vacation from the work-from-home” arrangements.

    Ninety two percent of those interviewed said there is no choice for them but to work from home. One field journalist asked “how can people, who never worked from home, and are forced to do so cope up?” Sarah Gutierrez, a PR specialist commented that “people can’t go home from online events,” meaning that work continues even if the event is done.

    72 percent say they are getting tired of doing business online, while 66 percent said that working away from home makes them more productive. 56 percent said they are willing to drive in heavy traffic just to get to the office, while only 32 percent see the future when WFH and video platforms will become acceptable substitutes for face-to-face contact.

    When asked whether they believed they feel that there are psychological consequences of continued teleworking, 82 percent agreed there are short term effects like momentary depression or melancholy. More complained of muscle aches and back problems. There were 2 who mentioned suicidal tendencies as issues. Another two gentlemen said remote work “decreases creativity” while “increasing the electricity bill.”

    Boredom and social isolation are two of the points raised in the survey. At least 24 percent of the respondents live alone, citing loneliness and distance from their colleagues as negative factors. Some of the younger ones (36 percent, aged 20 to 30 years old) they had developed game addiction.

    While remote working has many advantages, such as flexibility, customization, productivity, reducing costs, cutting travel time and creating work-life balance, it also reduced pollution, cleaned up the  environment, sliced overheads and reset the traditional office space from office address to “located where a WiFi connection exists.”

    I believe, it will be resiliency, not technology, that will bring us humans into embracing work-from-home as the norm.

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