Work from home

Is the ‘work from home’ option a boon or bane for women?

(Indian quiz master Phanindra Ivatury, who now resides in Utrecht in the Netherlands, shares with Bernama the post pandemic paradox of working from home or away)

UTRECHT (The Netherlands), 11 Dec (Bernama) — By the fag end of 2021, surveying for an article of mine on the psychological impact of the pandemic, I queried a bunch of school students with a pretty straight forward shooter, “What did you learn from the COVID-19 times”?

The plethora of their answer responses were varied but majority of those were tilted towards an optimistic learning curve. Impatient periods of attending to unending online education made most of them feel the need to go out there, express themselves and more importantly, learn all about the values of physical bonding and human contact.

On a reflective note, the pandemic opened up such peculiar scenarios, throwing us options to choose from and somehow look at the brighter side of perspectives. A case in point (which still keeps growing and gaining post pandemic) is the culture of ‘work from home’ (WFH).

Going back to the global sample survey for my article, while a majority of the student base longed to return to physical class room schooling, working professionals preferring to ‘work from home’ slightly outnumbered those wanting to return to their office spaces.

Home or Away? – A post pandemic work paradox

As debate raged on around the globe on how working women in some countries have been put to discomfort with the pandemic times WFH option which came for them with the added responsibility and burden of attending to all other unshared household chores (like even baby-sitting in the absence of physical pre-schooling in 2020). The debates highlighted some serious gender inequalities among working professionals, I decided to gather through some random sampling, the global perspectives of women pursuing professional careers during such challenging times.

‘Work From Home’ – Does it offer some sort of flexibility for working women, what are the accruing work gains and pains, is there a disadvantage going up the corporate ladder if a woman prefers the WFH route, did the post pandemic WFH option came to them as a ‘blessing in disguise’ or was it an undesired work scenario? A sample group of women professionals took the above questionnaire and came up with some interesting personal responses and their reading of the situation.

Kiren Gill who works as an Assistant Vice President for a Kuala Lumpur based MNC dealing in OTT content streaming for the entertainment industry says “I am extremely lucky to be part of an industry which thrived during the pandemic. Working from home opened up such refreshing and unexpected opportunities of bonding with my two teenage children who in normal times would hardly be at home. Working from home coupled with lockdown times, I even got to play charades, scrabble and card games with them during work breaks in 2020”

On the other hand, a portion of them missed regular work routines and patterns. “I missed dressing up for work, sharing lunches with colleagues, partying after work and more importantly meeting up with people” says Veena Baliga, a senior bureaucrat with the Indian Audit and Accounts Department who was not long ago caught up in an ‘all dressed up and nowhere to go’ kind of situation as even Government organisations remained shut in India for prolonged spells during 2020.

Christine Jamieson, a Lebanese research scholar pursuing Ph.D studies in Europe opines that for all those post pandemic professional survivors getting to grips with their everyday work life, the pains and gains came in their own share measure.

“While working from home equipped me with more time on hand for my research work, I missed the socializing part of working, not to mention the widened gap in travelling during 2020, especially back home to Lebanon which used to be quite frequent for me before” she concludes.

In the very recent past, ‘work from home’ option has also been in the news for the wrong reasons. The emergence of ‘Moonlighting’ concept among a breed of professionals is causing some unwanted legality and morality related issues for corporates, compelling them to focus on their staffers with magnifying glasses.

‘Moonlighting’ is the practice of working on a secondary job outside the normal working hours of a primary job with the intention of earning some additional income. Most corporates have employee policies in place which prohibit their work force taking up such ‘backup’ jobs, even if they are outside the parameters of a regular hour primary job.

The work from home concept which gained ground during the pandemic times has facilitated the moonlighting arrangement even more as most professionals involved in such twin job situations often go undetected.

Setting aside all the nitty-gritty associated with the WFH option, it can be said that only a portion of world’s working population had to mull over the fact whether WFH is a boon or bane during pandemic times. Medical, hospitality, travel, defense and hardware industry related employee sector for whom going to physical work spaces is almost mandatory, come rain or sun, they had to continue the same in 2020-21, even at the extent of risking their lives over livelihoods.

Dr. Apoorva Narumanchi, an ENT specialist from India, while reflecting on her duty times with COVID-19 patients says “Professionally, ethically and morally, it was mandatory for me to go to work and help humanity. I always lived in fear, not just with worry of me getting infected but about the fact that I can very well carry the virus home and pass it on to my loved ones.

Despite being in a better mind-space as a medical practitioner, the fierce spread of the virus caught me off guard, often making me wonder in 2020 on when would the COVID-19 patient flow stop. On the brighter side, we as doctors were quick to rebuild by 2021-22, firmly analyzing the vagaries of the virus and also in trying our best to control the spread of COVID ‘Infodemic’. For me, it was a professional and personal high serving during these tough times”

Though, a total ‘COVID-19 free world’ seems to be in the near horizon after medical technology made rapid strides in vaccinating a major portion of global population, the professional survivor’s looking back search for ‘shine through moments’ seem surprisingly aplenty which should ideally allow and let our women work force have the optional freedom to choose their ‘comfort space’ of working.


(The views expressed are those of the writer)

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On a reflective note, the pandemic opened up such peculiar scenarios, throwing us options to choose from and somehow look at the brighter side of perspectives. A case in point (which still keeps growing and gaining post pandemic) is the culture of ‘work from home’ (WFH).


Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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