The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a majority of us to work from home for an indefinite period of time. But how economical is it to work from home and will WFH become the new office post COVID-19?
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to take a hard look at many aspects of our lives-starting from how we take our house helps for granted to how we can still manage to finish work in the comfort of our homes, without spending hours commuting to work. With most companies directing their employees to work from home to keep businesses running amid the outbreak, the question that begs asking is how different will the office look post COVID-19? And will work from home become the new office post COVID-19?
Some of the lessons that the outbreak has thrown up:
a) The daily commute is completely avoidable and can easily be done away with not just for environmental reasons but it also saves people tons of money and time.
b) Flying people around the world for meetings can and should be (for cost and environmental reasons) substituted by video conferencing.
c) There should be a clear and defined purpose behind calling meetings in addition to being very clear about who needs to attend them and why.
Working from home in general will reduce your expenses to a great extent but here are some costs that you should consider:
When you’re working from home, all amenities that you’ll be using will be coming straight from your pocket–whether it’s the internet connection, electricity or food/snacks that you would’ve otherwise picked up from the office pantry and canteen. Although some of these expenses are already factored into your household budget, you may notice an increase in spends on these items owing to increased usage.
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One of the advantages of working in an office environment is you don’t have to stay glued to your desk and can take frequent breaks. This not only takes your mind off of things but also eases the pressure on your back caused by sitting in one position for a long stretch. Working from home on the other hand can cause a drop in your activity levels and increase your medical expenses caused due to ailments resulting from chronic pain of the spine, lower back etc.
At work, professional interactions beyond meetings and conference calls give you an idea about the state of the company, its plans of expansion and other crucial information that you may miss out on while working from home. This might affect your career outcomes and lead to increased stress and anxiety over your career.
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If you’re WFH, this means that you won’t really be going anywhere during work hours. This way you’ll be saving significantly on two-way transport. Depending on your regular mode of transport, you could be saving anything between Rs. 100 a day for those who take public transport to over Rs. 200 a day for those who hire private transport.
In her article titled “What Will Tomorrow’s Workplace Bring? More Elbow Room, For Starters” that came out in The New York Times, Jane Margolies states that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to create a tectonic shift in not just the way we work but also in how office buildings are going to be designed. Since the outbeak, interest has grown in building materials like sharkskin, to which microbes have difficulty adhering. Smoother surfaces are going to be preferred that are easy to wipe down than porous or textured ones that could harbour more germs.
The implications are varied and unprecedented for the post COVID-19 workplace scenario. It will be interesting to watch if we come out of this more evolved or revert to our old ways.
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