Is work life balance still deemed as a misnomer in the culture of productivity or pandemic has changed this thought process?
SM It has been more than a year since Covid-19 created an unprecedented disruption, setting limits for human proximity, and impacting global economy and workplaces drastically. The pandemic spread continues to hit the world wherein the mankind is left with no choice but alter our lifestyle focussed on holistic wellness.
"Working Remotely/From Home", as a mandate, is no longer treated under employee value proposition umbrella. Due to movement restriction, employees are confined within their houses only. Virtual workspace has blurred the time limit boundaries for official and personal work. The organisations' financial inability to sustain the workforce & their employment continuity has resulted in a feeling fortunate to have a job and thereby the stretched work hours amongst employees with a fear of being under continuous surveillance by employers. With the increased number of Covid-19 home quarantine cases, the stress and distress is increasing amongst employees.
Whilst Covid-19 vaccines have provided much needed relief, and the organisations are gearing up to resume hybrid workplace model, the social distancing norms are here to stay for a while.
It would be noteworthy to mention that organisations are, more than ever, cognizant of importance of Work-Life Balance and its well-established correlation with job satisfaction and a positive impact on productivity and business performance. Therefore, during Covid-19 pandemic it continues to be positioned as a key placeholder in HR strategy for organisations wherein the employers have adopted an empathic view to current situation and are taking all necessary steps to support employees during these tough times.
How do you underline the importance of work-life balance in present pandemic period?
SM The Covid 19 crisis has already transformed corporate world's working pattern and behaviour. Certain factors such as - an all-time high dependence on technology, virtual working environment, confinement to home & family, scarcity/non availability of daily wages workers as helping hands for household chores, online classes for children, taking care of covid patients at home have led to enormous physical and mental stress amongst all. Technology has curtailed the physical, geographical boundaries, intertwined work & life, resulting in a culture of 24X7 availability.
The employees are undergoing constant bandwidth crunch, in their earnest attempt to give their 100% on both fronts and strike a balance between work & personal priorities. There is an intrinsic need to connect socially with others which is as basic as our need for food, water, and shelter that has got compromised. The instances of absenteeism on account of "Unwell" have increased multi-fold in the recent times, not only on account of physical illness but emotional & psychological trauma as well.
There are multiple learning that have come through during Covid-19 pandemic wherein it established the fact that career is important but mental & physical health is paramount. Work life balance comes across as a must in the current scenario to mitigate physical & mental health risks and holistic wellness. The organisations have recognized the growing need for employees' "Me Time", work-life balance and supplemented non-tangible benefits as a high priority in their employee value proposition to maintain a business continuity and competitive advantage.
What new challenges have been posed by pandemic induced Remote working or WFH as it has become living at work?
SM The organisations that managed to transform successfully to virtual work environment have stayed afloat, whereas industries such as manufacturing/retail have been hit hard wherein there is a greater dependence on blue collared workforce.
The year 2021 started with newfound hope with highly effective vaccines against the corona virus. The governments are ensuring vaccine distribution and administration around the world, with the possibility of a return to normal life within the coming year.
We all have witnessed challenging and uncertain times in the last few months due to an upsurge in Covid 19 cases and high fatality rate owing to the new strain and lockdown lifting. This has led several organisations to resume 100% remote working environment once again.
Work-Life Integration has gained momentum, responding to official calls, checking & sending work e-mails at odd hours has become an unavoidable norm and a socially accepted practice.
The new challenges have emerged this year with "Working From Home" wherein it is becoming extremely difficult to manage time primarily for - all household responsibilities, inability to unplug, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) setting in due to decreased face time, limited work area owing to a joint family set up, technology break downs, work deadline pressure, zero socialising due to home confinement, taking care of covid impacted family member at home, the information flood on social media on an upsurge in pandemic spread/fatality rate - The list is endless.
All this has resulted in mental & physical fatigue that is highly detrimental to the health and life longevity. This requires serious consideration - both by the employer & the employee.