It has been a year since the world, including Oman, seriously implemented the culture of work from home (WFH). As the pandemic affected the country leaving all in confusion, WFH too has taken its toll on professional and personal lives. There have been challenges and stress in shedding the boundaries of work and life and maintaining a balance.
Zoom, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp and other online meeting places flourished in the initial periods of WFH as professionals met the challenge with vigour and enthusiasm. Since March last year, Zoom and Netflix have been part and parcel of virtually everyone’s lives. Bedrooms were turned into office corners and dinner tables into workstations.
P Chandrasekr, group general manager at Jawad Sultan Group said, “The outbreak of the pandemic and its effects are creating deleterious impact on all sectors of economy. Before WFH, our interactions were on human connect basis and hence, all electronic medium of connection were purely secondary.
“However, the new normal has altered the equation so much, that it has created tensions and anxiety. WFH infringes on home environment and creates unwanted tensions. Psychologists the world over are opining that this can lead to serious relationship hassles and mental stress. At a personal level too, this has brought about unavoidable changes in work-life balance. After all as the Greek philosopher Aristotle rightly said ‘Man is a social animal’, and it is profoundly true even today.”
WFH with online dependency has also affected recruitments.
Chandrasekr said, “Many of the organisations are ramping up digital interviews but one is not sure how efficacious it is since a digital presence cannot reveal everything about the candidate.”
Many have struggled with the new remote lifestyle while some have successfully executed plans.
Abdul Raziq Kazi, head of Production at Choice Advertising Agency said, “Work from home culture was good at the initial stage but now as the days pass by it is hard to maintain it. It’s hard to establish trust and develop relationships with colleagues and clients when you don’t have a daily face-to-face connection. Moreover, working at home with kids and family together creates distractions as we cannot have dedicated schedules and space to work which makes it challenging to work from home.”
Students and young children too have faced severe crisis with online classes. Many parents complain that children have undergone frequent mood swings and changes in behaviour. Online classes do not always keep them engaged.
Balqees al Hassani, head of Well-Being and Student Support Services of Al Sahwa School said, “It is true that with online studies, many of my students are undergoing challenges. There are many who do miss their friends and teachers; and I have had parents also who sought help. Real physical communication cannot replace the virtual typing or voice-note communication.”
Dr Nashat Shams, a psychologist and physician from the Ministry of Health said, “We are now approaching one year since the coronavirus pandemic hit us following with the WFH culture. As per research, WFH has indeed repercussions on mental health or productivity. According to research, those who work from home tend to report high levels of stress.
“Forty-one per cent of employees who more often worked from home considered themselves highly stressed, opposed to 25 per cent of those who worked only on-site. Employees who work from home might experience more of a blur in personal life and work boundaries, especially smart devices.
“Work from home employees might grapple more with the concept of unplugging and ending their workday as opposed to those who work in an office setting.”
She added that challenges are more for people with children.
“Depending on their age, you may need to deal with childcare, working around their school schedule, and generally balancing your work and family life. When working from home, you may face challenges setting boundaries with people and children who forget that working from home is still working.”
Dr Nashat Shams gives a few tips for managing the stress of working from home
Create a routine
Whether you set your schedule or have specific hours you need to be working, creating a routine can help you manage your time and concentrate better on your work. Create a ritual that indicates the start of your day: This might include taking a walk before you start working, taking a few minutes to stretch, or having a coffee or tea at the start of your day. Set a regular lunchtime: Taking lunch at a particular time every day provides you a much-needed break and grants you time to refuel before getting back to work. Be sure to unplug during your lunchtime so you can enjoy your break fully.
Create a dedicated workspace
Even though it may be alluring to curl up in bed and work, try to create a dedicated workspace where you can only concentrate on your job. Creating specific work and home boundaries can help you mentally shift from home life to work, even if you’re using a tiny corner of your home.
When you are ready to start working, be sure to silence your phone and switch off any computer notifications you might receive that aren’t work-related.
Connect with friends
If you feel isolated working from home, it’s crucial to make an effort to connect with the support system of your life. Because everyone may have varying schedules, set up a fixed time to video chat or call each other and add it to your calendar as a reminder.
To keep your motivation up, break down tasks into smaller, more controllable steps, and reward yourself for finishing them. The reward can be an easy task.
Protect your sleep
Getting quality sleep at night directly affects your overall well-being, including your ability to work from home productively. Even though it may be tempting to do so, using a screen late at night can modify your sleep patterns and make it challenging to fall asleep.
When you work from home, it’s essential to prioritise self-care. Doing so may help you stay connected to yourself and better learn what you need in terms of a work-life balance. Take your time understanding how you can best take care of yourself. There are many ways you can do this, including prayer rituals, exercise, yoga, meditation, etc.
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