We Need to Talk About ‘Work From Home’

It was 9 pm on a Saturday.

I heaved a sigh of relief and shut my laptop screen. After five meetings, ceaseless work and endless iterations, I finally had a few hours to myself.

For six straight days, I clocked in 13-hour workdays. So I was eager to make the most of this elusive ‘me-time’. Excited, I decided to catch up on a friend. I couldn’t decide what to watch during the precious free time, so I was hoping to get some good recommendations.

“Hey! I’m in a meeting. Will call you back!” I got a prompt reply from him on text.

I felt awful and thought his work life must be even worse than mine. I then got busy checking IMDb ratings of titles on my list. At 9:30 pm, I had narrowed down the list to two films and was just about to finalise when my phone rang. I thought my friend was finally free and could help me hasten my decision.

But I was so wrong, It was a call from work about an urgent task. For something that was supposed to be done ‘quickly’, it took me two hours to get it done.

By 11:30 pm, my brain was beyond the point of exhaustion, my eyes were hurting and my neck was stiff.

While there are countless posts of people finally indulging their hobbies, reading books, binging shows etc, there is another harsh reality of ‘work from home’.

The lines have blurred. There are no 9-5 shifts anymore, no weekly offs, no weekends and no respect for employees. I know we’ve hit a recession and making money is very crucial for every business. But this doesn’t give them the right to squeeze every bit of energy. Most of us are already working through pay cuts even as work hours have near doubled.

Also read: ‘Work From Home’ Is About Culture, Not Economics

The problem starts at the top and worsens with each level. And that’s because people are scared. The future is uncertain, and not just economically. Hence, many will no speak out about such practices and instead continue to accept all that comes their way.

Instead of caring about their employees’ physical and mental health, instead of respecting the dedication of these individuals, organisations are piling unbearable pressure on them. That too, at a time when they are facing a lockdown and have limited means of unwinding after a hectic day or week. It might aid these companies for a month or two, but when things finally start to normalise, they’ll be left with a workforce reeling with anxiety, stress and depression, amid other health issues.

We all need to raise our voices against such inhuman behaviour. Work from home was enforced upon all of us. Nobody chose this and nobody deserves to be treated like this.

Together, let’s put our minds to this problem and come up with a way that keeps the train running without destroying the engine.

Akul Sharma is an armchair philosopher, mystic thinker, and a human being trying to figure out the purpose of existence.

Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty