Switch Off, Switch On: Mind the gap between home & Office

As we keep moving amidst this pandemic menace, it has become vital that we protect the ability to distinguish between our work time and personal time.

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By now the fact that we have deal with an unprecedented work-scenario has been well digested by everyone. Organisations are finding out way to help their employees work and keep the business running, as much as they can. While remote working is not a new concept at all, the manner in which it has been imposed on us has never been seen before or experienced by any of us. Struggling to deal with this change, a problem that arises is the blurring of work and home.

And why would it not be? After all everyone is working from home!

As we keep moving amidst this pandemic menace, it has become vital that we protect the ability to distinguish between our work time and personal time. This is a major problem that most people working from home are struggling to solve. The home space has very different norms from the office space and one cannot expect to thrust the rules of the office upon the family.

Balachandar N

The pressure is more on senior leadership because of the responsibility they have on their shoulders and the pressure to be constantly available

It is not just now, the line between work and home has been becoming a blue for a while now. The commute to and from office offered the much needed respite people needed to gear up for work or unwind on the way back. However, nowadays people have started taking calls and checking mails on the way back as well. “The drive back home was important to prevent us from being too involved and be more mindful and engaged at home”, says Balachandar N, Group director-HR, Café Coffee Day.

Archanaa Singh, SVP-HR, Reliance Broadcast Network, admits that this is a major issue in today’s ongoing remote work scenario. “The entire globe is under stress, people working from home are emotionally stressed and are not being able to balance between work and family”, says Singh.

A major factor why this is happening is because now there is no cut off time. Due to the lockdown, daily wage workers, blue or white, are unable to commute and as a result there is no house help which otherwise made our lives much easier. People are helping out at home while simultaneously attending to work. The situation is new and they are unable to strike balance on how they should approach work. The burnout from stress is more likely now.

“We started work from home two weeks back. People’s commitment levels are shaking because they are struggling to cope with work and household chores at the same time”, adds Singh.

Why is it important to keep the balance?

The current arrangement along with people’s inability to cope is a recipe for mental exhaustion, emotional distress and physical stress. Having the time to segregate work hours from personal time gives one the ability and energy to focus and engage in both adequately. If a person is mentally exhausted or constantly thinking about work, they might end up compromising their work not to mention their health. Moreover, it goes without saying that without a balance, productivity goes for a toss.

Being mindful is more critical in these times when there is so much tension all around. Doing that will help one to focus on each role that a person plays, whether it be that of an employee, a wife, a son or a daughter.

“The pressure is more on senior leadership because of the responsibility they have on their shoulders and the pressure to be constantly available. It is even more important for them to keep the balance otherwise the pressure builds”, adds Balachandar.

Archanna Singh

The entire globe is under stress, people working from home are emotionally stressed and are not being able to balance between work and family

How can one cope?

For those who have physical amenities at home like a home-office or their own space to work are relatively better off. They are relieved of having to deal with unwanted background noise and disturbance. However, for the majority that do not have access to such facilities, they need to take more proactive steps.

While work needs to be consistent, it should not be overwhelming. “If one can only deliver limited output in a day, it is acceptable as long as the work is prioritised. Moreover, work should not be merely transactional but collaborative”, advises Singh.

It will help if one can have a sit down with the family, make them aware of one’s needs to work and also understand their routine and adjust accordingly. Instead of trying to push back the changes, it would be wiser to conform and adjust since this is not a short term arrangement.

Guilt is another factor which forces employees to work overtime even at home. The guilt of not performing enough is what gets one back in front of the screen and burn the midnight oil. At this moment, it is more crucial to take care of one’s self. Without, the struggle might continue and one might find themselves being unable to engage neither in work nor with family members.

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