Owing to the current situation of uncertainities, remote work or work from home has taken over as the new ‘normal. However, due to restrictions on certain activities getting eased, some professionals have started heading back to their offices. But, there are several others who are still working from home. Now, this new setup is posing newer challenges.
A survey was performed across states and cities by Upceed Consulting Services (UCS), a Bengaluru-based company, drew the conclusion that nearly 70 per cent of the employees are still working from home. In the whole process of doing so, work often seemed endless and extended beyond regular office timings, needless to mention the long work calls and zoom meetings.
About 95 per cent of people added that was no respite even on weekends. According to the survey, such a trend posed to be a serious threat for many employees, especially women, as they continue to bear their household responsibilities along with their professional commitments.
“Earlier women were in a situation where they took care of household responsibilities before leaving for work, and do the same after coming home. Now, they have the whole family at home, including elders and kids, to take care of,” Anupamaa V, managing partner, AVRC legal and chief trainer, Upceed Consulting Services, told indianexpress.com. One of the major hassles lies in the unavailability of domestic help, which has further aggravated the entire problem, the survey further stated.
The pandemic has witnessed many lay-offs in the past few months. With reduced workforce, employers have relocated the workload to available employees, but it has only added to their physical and mental burden. People living alone, have been found to be able to invest more hours into work, cutting down travel time and lesser responsibilities at home, as compared to those having families. Thus, this entire new setup has led to a crumbled state of both physical and mental health.
Anupamaa elaborated, “There are too many online calls happening now. Earlier, there was a designated time for work, and meetings would usually take place within that time, after which you came home. But now you have too many calls throughout the day, apart from your regular work. Add to that family obligation. And that is making things really tough. There are people who are starting at 5 am in the morning and winding up at 11 pm-12 am at night.”
Similarly, people who live alone have been trying extremely hard to cope up with loneliness and isolation as they continue to work from home. “Earlier, these people had the opportunity of going to their workplace, meeting colleagues or friends outside. The feeling of being alone, depression and other consequences are things that companies will have to look out for at least in the next few months,” said Anupamaa.
“That is just one small part. Even though employees are remotely working, the companies should come up with a novel methodology to make work more interactive and interesting. All calls need not be for work. May be there could be video calls once in a while, where colleagues can engage in fun discussions and activities such that they feel good about themselves,” she advised.
As per the study, 29 per cent–did not really consider work from home to be a safer option as compared to being in office. Instances of digital sexual harassment have sprung up in the virtual workplace — sending filthy text and voice messages, sharing obscene personal pictures, wearing inappropriate clothes while having zoom calls are some of the instances that could lead to harassment.
“On many occasions, you are sharing your personal contact and other details, giving your customers, suppliers, vendors and even colleagues direct access to you. Again, sometimes people do things unknowingly without any bad intention. Many people are not aware that telling gender-biased statements to a person can also amount to sexual harassment. That is why it is crucial that awareness sessions are conducted on regular intervals to be up-to-date with all developments in the POSH act (Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace–Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal),” Anupamaa said.
Only 30 per cent of the participants had sexual harassment-awareness sessions in the last three or six months, the survey further revealed. “Companies need to conduct sessions to make employees understand what scenarios could now become an issue of harassment. Video calls are necessary and are perhaps the closest to the feeling of working together. But employees should be asked to follow a certain protocol during their office hours, as though they were in the office itself,” Anupamaa said.