WFH isn’t as easy as it seems, say IT employees

COVID-19 State

Practising yoga, meditating, following a healthy lifestyle and spending time with family can reduce mental stress, advise experts

Aarthi N

Employees working in IT firms don’t find it easy to work from home. The home is not the same as the workplace, they say.

In view of the lockdown announced to stop the spread of Covid-19, employees have been directed by the central government to work from home.

Arun G, who works for an IT company in Siruseri, Chennai, said: “There are a lot of problems when we work from home. We do not have good network connectivity, are required to be on call all the time, and given a lot more work than usual because we are at home.”

He added: “Though it may seem easy and relaxing to work from home, it is the most frustrating and difficult job. Our managers call us any time to log in, asking us to submit reports even during weekends and at midnight.”

Arun is not alone. A lot of other employees this reporter spoke with spoke of similar problems.

Gracelin J, who has worked in the IT sector for three years, said: “Working from home is not new to me. We usually get work from home every week in the company I am working in. As we are working from home, we have to… work for more hours to complete the given projects.”

Nithin K, who has worked in the sector for one year, said: “The work from home concept is new to me. I thought it would be all fun, but I was wrong. Every day, my stress level increases because of the workload. We cannot clarify our doubts as nobody is ready to clarify them.”

Layoff and termination are two things these employees are apprehensive of.

About the fear of being thrown out of job, Jayasuriya R said: “If we say we cannot work overtime and cannot log in on a particular day, there are high chances they will dismiss us. It is very difficult to get jobs these days. It is because of this that most employees do not talk about stress or demand overtime…, and do all the work that they are given.”

M.N. Balamurugan, director of Maitri Technology Solutions, cited the virtual curfew and lack of social exposure as the main reason for IT employees’ stress. “They usually enjoy working from home. But currently, because of the lockdown, it is stressful for them to sit at home and work. Also, the problem with working from home is that the employee has to immediately respond to his employer on WhatsApp or Skype. If he doesn’t respond, he will be questioned in a meeting or on the WhatsApp group, where all employees are present. To avoid this, he has to be active irrespective of the time and day.”

Working from home increases productivity and is a boon when it is done properly.

Working from home is stressful for employees because of the present scenario, Dr Kasturi, a psychiatrist, said. “Working from home is not new for IT employees. But the challenge they face today is managing their work as well as their families amid this lockdown. There is the fear of termination too because the company may be running out of money and they want to sack their employees. Employees in their early and mid-thirties may have financial commitments like EMIs and loans which is another challenge for them.”

Giving a possible solution to relieve mental stress, she added: “During this time, employees should not only focus on their work but also on their families. They should divide their whole day and allot time for helping out the family…. They should also spend time on physical activities. When they allot time for work, family and personal time equally, they can easily handle their anxiety and manage their stress.”

Explaining the importance of good mental health, Bhavana S, clinical psychologist and head of the psychology department in Surana College, Bengaluru, said: “We should see the positive side of this negative situation. Many employees are more stressed than before because of many reasons. It may be sociological, psychological, economical or even behavioural problems during this lockdown. Because of work from home, most of us are working 24/7, managing both work and home, leading to more stress. Practising yoga, meditation, exercise, spending time with family and loved ones and a strict healthy lifestyle in this quarantine helps to maintain a positive way of life.”

On March 23, 2020, the Tamil Nadu government asked IT companies to get their employees to work from home, according to a News Minute report. An order from by the Department of Health and Family Welfare of Tamil Nadu says that IT, Financial Services Back Offices and ITeS companies should ensure their employees work from home. Companies dealing with critical and essential services will operate while taking precautionary measures.

Image courtesy: Oviyaa B


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *