Working from Home versus Working at Home in 2020 (PART 1)
Of recent, the question “Are you working from home or are you working at home?” was posed in a virtual forum. I found this question to be profound and thought-provoking.
Our workspaces are no longer conventional. Working away from the office has officially introduced itself by way of force compliments COVID-19. Given that our ageing population makes up the majority of the workforce and is one of the vulnerable/high-risk groups, most persons are working away from the office. As I reflect on this new way of work and the challenges that have presented themselves, I too ask the question “Are persons really working from home or are they working at home?”
Working from home alludes to the fact that one is not working in the physical workspace and has the flexibility to work remotely. Seclusion, limited distractions and allowing for good time management describes such a remote location. Alternatively, working at home suggests working amongst the ongoing activity and chaos that goes on in the home. Numerous distractions leading to poor time management may be a consequence of this type of setting.
Working from home or working remotely is not new for some but it is new for many. Usually, this type of work happens in a nice coffee shop offering complimentary Wi-Fi or a quiet spot with a scenic view or even while “vacationing.” Basically, working remotely provides a gateway for flexibility; for example, those who may have to collect their children from school or persons who desire to relocate to be close to their ageing parents. It is well valued by employees but a concern for employers as they fear a lack of productivity or the omission of informal learning that occurs when all employees are in office. Nonetheless, studies have shown that productivity has increased with this style of work.
The sense of independence and productivity one gains from working remotely is not reflective with those currently working at home. Firstly, we are operating in a pandemic, schools are closed and facilitation of online learning is required, children and some spouses are home as well, home conditions may not be the most comfortable; all of these variables contribute to the current unusual work environment. Given these circumstances, most persons are managing their homes while working at home and this definitely cannot be an easy task. Plus, mental health is
threatened and productivity decreases amongst others.
Fortunately for some, working at home may have produced very positive outcomes. This option may have been more preferable and persons feel a sense of comfort and safety in this time of uncertainty.
As COVID-19 continues to linger, I have no doubt that working remotely will be the new norm. Under present circumstances, working at home will remain for a while longer and will not come to a halt anytime soon. But, how does one continue to cope? How can we as Human Resource Professionals be of value to our charges? How do we keep up the good fight ourselves? The discussion does not end here.
Written by Kerri-Anne Brathwaite | Employer Services Intern | WORK Consultancy Inc. | Barbados