Sri Lanka's pandemic and economic crisis, which swept the island-state of Sri Lanka in 2019, have rendered a large proportion of the workforce unable to commute to work in order to mitigate the spread of the virus and focus on day-to-day survival. As a result, both employers and employees were looking for alternative work arrangements.
For many, this has put work on hold. Employees or business owners of some firms could not transition to a WFH model. For many firms, however, COVID-19 and the economic crisis have pushed them to utilize technology further, and address how they can efficiently and effectively continue to work and function, through digital. Digital adoption is a key factor in determining how quickly and efficiently a company can function virtually. That's where the WFH model comes into play. Everyone had to make several adjustments to cope as the world went through this. One example is organizations adopting a work-from-home culture and grappling with the benefits and drawbacks of doing so. Some companies were better prepared than others in the scramble to maintain business continuity during the COVID-19 crisis and the economic crisis.
WFH is known as an alternative that works to reduce the risk of a worst-case scenario. However, WFH is not a new concept, and Nilles (1988) first mentioned it in 1973 as "telecommuting" or "telework" (Messenger and Gschwind 2016). Over the last four decades, WFH has been defined in a variety of ways, including remote work, flexible workplace, telework, telecommuting, and e-working.
According to research, the once desired, highly favourable WFH has not proven to be one of the best options for the majority of Sri Lanka's workforce. WFH remains popular, but not in its current form. Better government guidelines and policies should be in place to properly regulate and make WFH feasible. Guidance on adapting to remote online work is one area of policy where planning and implementation are absolutely necessary. The decision to suspend in-person meetings and work was made quickly, but without any instructions on how to do so. Workers are unaware of what WFH entails and lack the resources needed for this change. Proper training is required if this practice is to become a viable option or the new normal. Perhaps the working balance will be visible after the pandemic, when WFH is no longer a forced mandate, but rather a flexible option.
However, when we try to look at the bigger picture, the main reason I would oppose a 100% WFH business model is that isolation suffocates collaboration. When people are banging their heads together at the office, ideas flow much faster and more intensely. As a result, it is clear that man cannot live alone, let alone work efficiently and effectively. While some employees are ecstatic about the prospect of working alone without the distractions of the workplace, others may struggle. Working long hours and collaborating with only a computer screen, with no face-to-face interaction or communication with remote team members, can be difficult. This can also have an impact on staff career progression. Nonetheless, there will undoubtedly be challenges in implementing WFH. For example, increased IT security risks, training, and managing a remote team: you can't form strong relationships online, so if an employee works from home, it's critical that they communicate more.
Other than that, Exel always recommends the WFH model when an emergency situation arises. Working in an office with coworkers who share a common goal and purpose, or having a pep talk with colleagues and management, can be a great source of external motivation. Working from home, on the other hand, lacks that type of environment.
"The grass is always greener on the other side, just as WFH is always comfortable and convenient on the other side."
By: Rasheeb Rizmeer