When major companies rolled out their back-to-office plans, employees’ sentiments were mixed. Some saw a break from monotony, whereas many called the move “unnecessary”.
Nevertheless, the lucky ones got to continue working from home while many were left to fret. Amid this, experts say remote working models work when there is a strong culture of mutual trust between employers and employees. It’s not a one-way game. The onus of building this culture lies on both sides – managers and team members.
There are reasons why CXOs think “white collar lethargy” has swept in amid extensive remote work culture – which has led to employers calling workers back to the offices.
Moneycontrol interacted with a few CXOs to understand what practices and habits according to them are a big NO when employees are working from home.
At no point in time should there be ghosting
Industry leaders believe employees need to demonstrate the right behaviours that instil confidence in employers and managers. One of them is being responsive, accessible and communicative during business hours.
“This means phone not being on silent, responding to emails and queries within expected timeframes, not going dark and missing meetings,” says Sonica Aron, Founder and Managing Partner at HR consultancy firm Marching Sheep.
Siddhartha Gupta, CEO of online assessment platform Mercer|Mettl, feels that when the nature of work requires inter-dependence on other stakeholders and constant collaboration, work is only possible when the employee is easily accessible and engaged.
“Otherwise, ghosting results in wastage of time – just getting people together at the same time,” he says.
How to solve it? Aron says it is important for employees to treat their homework station like an office workstation. “If they were to be 100 percent responsive when in office then they should be 100 percent responsive when working from home.”
This can be achieved by putting strong and transparent communication protocols and workplace policies in place even at home, Gupta points out.
Procrastination is a devil
Some of the benefits of working from home, such as ease of procrastination, can make completing tasks more challenging. Procrastination at work is the practice of delaying work-related tasks.
“It’s normal to put things off occasionally – we’re only human. However, when procrastination spirals out of control, efficiency for those who procrastinate can plummet, making work less rewarding and productive,” says Sarvesh Agrawal, Founder and CEO of internship platform Internshala.
In a nutshell, nonconformity to work assignments, deadlines, and company policies is strictly prohibited, says Shrikant Bhalerao, CEO of BaaS platform Seracle.
“Being disgruntled and less engaged while working from home can lead to lower output and, consequently, less revenue. It can also lead to a decline in morale, which can further impact productivity,” he adds.
How to solve it? Agrawal mentions some time-management strategies that can help a person change the way they operate including time blocking; accomplishing the bigger aim, establishing smaller goals; becoming more accountable to yourself, and setting strict deadlines.
Additionally, Bhalerao says employees can solve this problem by simple measures such as setting a calendar for the day, having a dedicated workspace to ensure uninterrupted hours, communicating proactively, and more importantly taking moderately timed breaks throughout the day to keep their minds fresh and active.
Many a time, employees feel the need to keep up the appearance of productivity while working from home. “They end up spending their time on unimportant tasks and unnecessary meetings, which may cause a jump in short-term productivity but doesn’t contribute much in terms of long-term performance,” says Kamalika Bhattacharya, Founder and CEO, QuoDeck Technologies.
This ‘Productivity Theatre’ is what employers should actively discourage and formulate approaches that take into account the nuances of WFH and its differences from work from the office, she adds.
Don’t mix up your household chores with office goals
When working from home, Chetna Gogia, CHRO at e-commerce firm Gokwik, says employees generally have boundary issues.
“While the work style becomes flexible, employees struggle with maintaining a healthy work-life balance and don’t set boundaries to manage distractions,” he says, asserting, “This is something they should consciously avoid.”
“Many employees have been misusing the work policies of the company, by logging in late or keeping the system turned on and leaving the workspace,” says Aditya Narayan Mishra, MD & CEO of CIEL HR.
How to solve it? Creating a dedicated workspace in their house is one approach to keeping their worlds apart, Mishra says. “This is an ideal approach to establishing a barrier and reducing interruptions during an employee’s workday.”
Moreover, to manage distractions, Gogia suggests employees use the Pomodoro method – break work into intervals – to drive focus.
Overcommunication is underrated
Undue advantage of WFH flexibility might result in a slowdown of the professional graph as the scope gets limited in transition, says Dinakar Menon, Business Head at digital marketing agency Big Trunk Communications.
Here, overcommunication is absolutely underrated in the world of remote work and many employees and employers are afraid to create noise and often under-communicate, according to Nadia Vatalidis, VP of People at HR firm Remote.
The issue Vatalidis highlights is that many employees and employers just copy the way they used to work in a usual office environment.
But with intentionality around written and video communication, how it is shared and over-communicating the core message, employers/ employees can absolutely ensure everyone is on the same page, regardless of what time zones they work in and how distributed they are, she explains.
How to solve it? Vatalidis recommends employees proactively share frequent updates about what they are working on, do so in public channels and avoid direct messages (dm) and private channels as much as possible.
“It’s incredible to see how much open source/public communication can create shared knowledge and information with an entire team, rather than one-on-one or dm questions and answers,” she says.
Additionally, exploring avenues for upskilling, self-introspection of the areas that need attention and finding newer means to interact with people in the same profession and also across the organisation could be helpful, Menon says.
Avoid logging in from the office ID onto outside work devices
Deepika Bora’s advice to WFH employees is that they should avoid logging in from the office ID onto outside work devices and vice-versa.
“This cannot only lead to situations where their personal data can be compromised, but can also put organisation’s data at severe risk,” says the Co-Founder & Head of Hiring at Bridgentech Consulting.
She says there is a significant difference in the security architecture of workplace and home devices, where a weak setup and high exposure to risk can only make data theft more feasible.
“Employees should also never log in to their bank account or personal transactions via their work computers,” Bora says.