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Post COVID-19 : HR perspective on WFH

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Hirendra Badhiye, Seasoned HR professional, Bengaluru

21-Apr-2020

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WFH is not easy, it has its own set of challenges. Bandwidth, home-office space, privacy and uninterrupted power supply to name a few. If WFH helps the company save money and mitigates major risks, we will experience this model as ‘the way to work’ in the coming days.

Many are shaken, frightened, numb with the unprecedented VUCA situation which we are facing in the form of COVID-19. I am sure, many of us might not encounter anything of this magnitude in our lifetime. No crystal balls available to gaze and predict what the future holds for us. Common sense indicates, there are going to be changes. No astrological predictions. The changed scenario made us learn that large scale work-from-home (WFH) to the extent of 75 to 95% is possible in a few sectors. If you want to toe this line in the near future, corporate will need clients buy-in and of course the Government needs to amend rules/laws.

  

Post-bellum will see huge changes. Social distancing needs to be practiced for considerable time to make sure we all stay safe and healthy. This might lead to massive clout for large scale WFH. Stretching this logic a step further, if WFH at such a massive scale will become the order of the day, will we have the white collar labour migrate? Why will they? If given a choice who would not like to work from the comforts of their own home? Which in turn might impact the Renting industry (flats/bungalows, paying guests, home stays), Transportation industry (cabs, trains, airlines, buses) and others in the Hospitality industry (lodging, food and drink service, event planning, theme parks & malls) negatively - irrespective of the shape of the economic recovery curve (L, U, V). It might sound like we are years away from these scenarios, trust me, we are very close to this. Only if industry fails to learn from the current situation will we continue the same way as earlier. It’s common knowledge that companies will have cost pressures and they will not miss  any opportunity to cut cost in the short/medium term. Rentals on office space if brought down significantly would be an added advantage.

 

WFH is not easy, it has its own set of challenges. Bandwidth, home-office space, privacy and uninterrupted power supply to name a few. If WFH helps the company save money and mitigates major risks, we will experience this model as ‘the way to work’ in the coming days.

 

Let me share with you some observations/learning’s I had which might be helpful for you in preparing for the new workspace, your home-office wherever you will work from.

 

  • Organization Code of Conduct   
  • Tardiness
  • Video and audio controls
  • Personal grooming & dressing
  • Clean and neat premises 
  • Be present
  • Use of language

 

  • Organization Code of Conduct  

 

Sitting in your home-office (which might be a non-AC PG), with summer approaching, would you not like to have a chilled beer for the 7 pm meeting? Hold your horses, look at your organisation policies. Are you allowed to have a drink and work in office?  If the answer is ‘No’, than just don’t do that from the comfort of your home-office. Organization Code of Conduct will be applicable if   you are on the job, location is immaterial.

 

There are videos circulating on social media channels giving you amazing ideas on how you can pour your beer in a large coffee mug and enjoy it during the video meeting. The satisfying expression on your face after having a beer might make you the ‘cynosure of all eyes’. Don’t forget, your managers have lived your age and experience too.

 

The same applies to smoking, chewing tobacco or ghutka.

 

  • Tardiness

 

Be on time, always unless an actual emergency keeps you away. Use alarms, reminders on your device to make sure you don’t miss the start. In fact you should be dialing in to the meeting a min or two in advance. Check your connection, make sure audio and video are working well. You don’t want to miss important updates at the start of the meeting, you might not get the context to a    few points being discussed later if you join in late. We take pride in announcing, ‘I am on back to back calls today’. That’s not an ideal situation. Make sure you keep a gap of 5-7 minutes between meetings. If you are getting late, inform the organizer along with an genuine apology.

 

  • Video and audio controls

 

It’s important you know how to operate the device being used to attend the meetings. Learn to quickly control the audio and video settings so that you avoid embarrassing situations. Switch off the video and audio post the meetings. You don’t want others to see intricate details of your personal life nor do you want them to hear anything. Don’t panic if things don’t work but make sure you inform the meeting organizer about the issues being faced.

 

  • Personal grooming & dressing

           

Present yourself as you would normally do in office. No one likes to see a shabby looking colleague on a video meeting. Wear appropriate cloths, just as you would wear to office. It helps stay focused and keeps you in ‘work’ mode.

 

  • Clean and neat premises 

 

Make sure your home office is kept clean and tidy. You need to pick a location with plenty of light (on your face, avoid a source of illumination behind your back) and a neutral background. Make yourself comfortable and present yourself professionally (pay attention to your body posture). Remember, you are working from home.

 

  • Be present

           

One of the most important feature of attending a virtual meeting or working remotely is to concentrate on the official meeting at hand. Be present, physically, mentally and psychologically. Keep away from all distractions unless it’s an emergency. Your work output is sure to get impacted if you turn a blind eye towards the happenings of the meeting.

 

Excuse yourself if you think you have more important work to attend to but don’t pretend to be present.   

 

  • Use of language

           

The language to be used on official calls and meetings should be the same as the one prescribed by the organizations communication policy. It’s important that you be formal and avoid informal banter. Don’t slip into local language while on an official call, not all might understand. Most importantly, avoid slangs and don’t exhibit your frustration openly. A minute of silence will be worth a bounty.   

           

Human Relations team and Managers have a task on hand. We need to educate the masses on adopting to the new normal, quicker the better.