Work-from-Home Woes and How to Get out of Them?

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It is a fine Sunday afternoon and I am sitting in the veranda of my house. Surprisingly enough, the summer hasn’t been as brutal this time as in recent years. I suppose the lockdown due to Covid-19 has something to do with this.

As I write this piece, I feel I finally have some breathing space. The last week was really grueling for me.

The reason? – This work-from-home model that we have going these days.

Throughout the week, I worked overtime so that my employers could appease the client. For 6 days a week, I worked for 12-13 hours even though the stipulated time is 8.5 hours for 5 days.

And as it turns out, I’m not the only one going through this. The majority of people who are working from home during this lockdown have been facing the same problem – exhaustion and overwork.

A friend of mine who works for an IT company in Gurgaon said this to me,

“I start my work at 9 am in the morning and it usually lasts till 9 pm. This has been the case with me since the beginning of the lockdown. I initially enjoyed the fact that I was saving a lot of time on my daily commute. But now I miss my office. In the office, at least we had a fixed schedule for everything including the breaks and the working hours.”

Unfortunately, this has been the case with so many people. The lines between work and personal lives have blurred. There are no clear boundaries and companies seem to exploit this fact.

The scare tactic

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Here’s the thing.

I don’t know how, but most of the corporates seem to have this idea in their minds that

Giving employees the flexibility to work from home is a valid reason for taking away their basic privileges.

Not only the companies are saving a ton of money on office infrastructure, electricity rents, and other amenities (like coffee, snacks, etc.) but they are also squeezing the most out of their employees by making them work twice as hard. It is a win-win situation for them.

It feels like they are saying, “We are doing you a favor by letting you work from home. And as a repayment of this favor, we own your lives now.”

“You won’t have any personal lives. We would ask you to work overtime irrespective of your work agreement or your salary package.”

And while we are at it, you must also worship us by making a sacrifice and bringing us the blood of a lamb.” Okay, not the last one. But you get the point.

Now if you try to reason with them and raise a voice against it, they’ll remind you that we are in the midst of a pandemic and people are losing jobs right now. They’ll indirectly mention that if you don’t conform, you might also lose your job.

Here’s a real-life example.

While in a meeting about the work deliverables, some of my team members mentioned that this is a lot of work and it might take some time to finish. At that point, our superior casually mentioned that right now having a job is the most important thing. He said that since so many people are losing their jobs right now, we must appreciate having work.

Being more appreciative is a good thing. But our boss didn’t mean it in that sense. He only meant that either you do this work or get your ass fired.

This is a scare tactic that I’m sure many other corporations might also be using (By the way, if you’ve also seen this scare tactic being used on you, let me know in the comments section below).

The biggest highlight of this scare tactic is that it actually works. Employees are being much more productive than they’ve ever been.

But the question is, “For how long?”

A toll on the mental well-being

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This pandemic is already causing unprecedented stress, anxiety, and depression among a large mass of people. The odd work-life balance only adds to this stress.

Instead of being empathetic towards their employees, organizations are being aggressive and uncaring. This might benefit them initially, but it would take a toll on the mental well-being of employees in the long run.

By being at their homes all day, employees are already dealing with a lot. And instead of being kind, companies are making their lives worse.

This pandemic may not last, but how a corporation treats its employees during this time will have a lasting impact on the image of a corporation. Moreover, these corporations will need to deal with a workforce reeling with anxiety, stress, and depression once the offices open up.

Now, I know many of you might be thinking that instead of rambling about these petty issues I must be grateful that I still have a job. I must acknowledge that there are a huge number of people being laid off every day. There are people who don’t have food to eat because their livelihood has been impacted because of this pandemic.

Trust me, I understand all that. If you follow my work, you would know that I am one of the biggest proponents of gratitude. I am really grateful for what I have right now and frankly speaking, that’s one of the things helping me keep going.

But despite all that, a healthy attitude towards life means not only being grateful for the things that are right but also acknowledging the things that are wrong.

How to cope up with Work-From-Home

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So, I did not write this post to only ramble about my work-life problems. That’s not me.

I mentioned it all, hoping for people to relate to it. I only reminded you of your problems so together we could do something about them.

So, let’s come to the main part. How to cope up with this work-from-home induced stress? Here are a few simple things that you can do to make things a little easier.

Setting boundaries

Remind your employer of your boundaries. Clearly mention that you can’t be expected to remain available at all times.

This might sound easier than done but you need to realize that your mental well-being is more important than anything else.

You need to be selfish for your peace and if that means occasionally letting your team know that you are not okay with something then do it.

You already have suffered a lot due to the blurred boundaries. So, bring back the balance by setting some boundaries yourself.

Meditation & hobbies

This is the best time to get into the habit of meditation. At times, you won’t be able to control your external circumstances. But you CAN control your reaction to these external circumstances. Meditation helps you achieve this.

Moreover, hobbies can prove to be a great way of fighting stress. As I wrote in my recent newsletter, hobbies are simple and that is why are they can do wonders for us. By indulging in a hobby regularly, you can keep the stress away. Amidst the work pressure, you must find some space for some ‘me-time’ every day. 

Working on efficiency

Have you heard of the 40% rule?

If not, here’s what it says:

“When your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re really only 40% done.”

So, try working on your efficiency. You are capable of doing much more work than you think you do.

Let’s take an example. Let’s just assume you used to create one sales report each day when in your office. While working from home, you are being asked to create two sales reports each day within the same time frame.

At this point, you can either crumble under the extra work pressure or use this time as an opportunity to be better at your job, which in this case is making sales reports.

Keep the 40% rule in mind. There’s so much more to you. Use the same time frame to deliver twice the work. This will strengthen your adaptation skills and will give you an edge in the future. Once this is all over, you can boast of improved skills and efficiency, and who knows maybe bag a better job offer from someplace else.

Thanks for reading. I am Shikhil Vyas, a professional content writer and writing coach. Every Sunday, I send my weekly newsletter called Simpler Sundays. This newsletter is aimed at giving you a dose of relaxed reading at the end of each week.

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