Work - From-Home Is Popular But Its Productivity Isn’t Settled Yet : Daily Current Affairs

Date: 22/09/2022

Relevance: GS-2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Key Phrases: WFH As New Normal, Better Work-Life Balance, Improved Inclusivity, Positive Environmental Impact, Job Opportunities Beyond Geographic Location, Increased Productivity And Performance


  • Although most countries have learned to live with the COVID-19 virus, however, the pandemic has left behind a different world.
  • One area of profound change right now is the way people work, where people do their jobs remotely once they have a computer, a good internet connection, and a quiet corner at home.

Key highlights:

  • A few economists have conducted a survey in 27 countries in mid-2021 and early 2022 to understand individual attitudes towards WFH, around the world.
  • The survey has revealed that 82 percent of respondents admitted that they prefer WFH over going back to the office.
  • The remote work trend was initially forced on employees due to the pandemic, however, after two years, WFH has become a new normal and as things settled down new habits have formed.
  • The study further revealed that 64 percent of employees said they are more productive working from home and feel less stressed.
  • Technology is already moving swiftly to change the way companies engage with their employees and get a deeper, more meaningful engagement to everyone's advantage,

What are the highlights of the survey of the Indian population?

  • Indians who work in areas where teleworking is possible have taken to the new culture of WFH better than peers in other countries.
  • Indians have worked 2.6 days a week from home which is the highest among all countries and much above the global average of 1.5 days.
  • Indian employees like to work for an average of 2.1 days every week from home, as against the world average of 1.7 days.
  • The survey respondents were ready to give up to 6.9% of their income to be able to get two or three days of WFH every week when the global average was 5%.
  • Generally, women prefer WFH to men, given that women bear an outsized portion of the burden of housework in most countries, including India.
  • Just over half of respondents (51%) said that they are more productive working from home during the pandemic and have cited fewer interruptions and quiet work environments as part of the reason for their increased productivity.

Advantages of Work from home:

  1. Better Work-Life Balance:
    • Remote jobs come with flexible schedules where the workers can start and end their day as they choose, as long as their work is complete and leads to strong outcomes.
  2. Less Commute Stress:
    • More than 30 minutes of daily one-way commuting is associated with increased levels of stress and anxiety, and research shows that commuting 10 miles to work each day is associated with health issues like, higher cholesterol, elevated blood sugar, and increased risk of depression.
  3. Job opportunities beyond geographic location:
    • One of the considerable benefits of telecommuting is having access to a broader range of job opportunities that aren’t limited by geographic location which can be especially helpful for jobseekers living in rural communities and small towns where there may not be many available local positions.
    • Remote work helps to avoid high-rent and high-mortgage areas, especially for positions that used to require living in a metropolitan city with a high cost of living.
  4. Improved Inclusivity:
    • Remote work enables companies to embrace diversity and inclusion by hiring people from different socioeconomic, geographic, and cultural backgrounds and with different perspectives which can be challenging to accomplish when recruiting is restricted to a specific locale.
  5. Positive Environmental Impact:
    • A whopping 7.8 billion vehicle miles travelling is saved each year for those who work at least part-time from home avoiding 3 million tons of greenhouse gases (GHG) and oil savings of $980 million.
    • By making environmentally sound choices like opting to use less paper and monitoring their air conditioning, heating, and lighting, telecommuters have the same potential impact on air quality as planting an entire forest of 91 million trees.
  6. Increased Productivity and Performance:
    • Telecommuting usually leads to fewer interruptions, fewer office politics, a quieter noise level, and fewer unnecessary round-table meetings as well as removes the monotony of office cubicles which leads to increased productivity.
  7. A Happier, Healthier Work Life:
    • Remote, flexible workers tend to be happier and more loyal employees, in part because working from home has been shown to lower stress, provide more time for hobbies and interests, and improve personal relationships, among other things.

Challenges of WFH:

  • A section of employees finds working from home (WFH) tiring because it can lead to working outside established hours and disrupt their work/life balance.
  • Research has found that during the pandemic, the number of working hours increased as the boundaries between employees’ work and home life decreased.
  • Few workers feel stress and burnout from working remotely which is partly due to the isolation of being alone.
  • Interacting with others draws the workers together and makes the jobs easier and more gratifying.
  • WFH employees do not talk with their teammates losing the Watercooler Effect which includes hanging around the water-cooler or coffee-machine which is a much more crucial part of office life.
  • This has reduced the intensity of knowledge exchange and slowed the building of new relationships and professional networks, which may be why some employers have started asking employees to return to offices.
  • Losing out on this collaboration has negatively impacted teamwork and business success.

Do you know?

  • Companies have innovated the idea of a virtual water cooler channel for everyone to discuss non-work-related topics and to fulfill the social needs of workers.
  • A virtual water cooler refers to all casual interactions and talks employees have in between tasks digitally via online platforms which are translated into fun meetups and chats via Slack, at the start of a meeting, or over lunch through a video call.
  • It invites and adds colleagues to the channel and makes a list of conversational topics setting a time limit for interactions.


  • When done right, remote work allows employees and companies to focus on what really matters i.e., performance.
  • Unfortunately, the office environment can create “false positives” that can lead to bias and favoritism.
  • Despite all the challenges, flexible working arrangements are more viable, even if large organizations completely built on teleworking are still a rarity.
  • A hybrid work model will provide employees with greater flexibility and the option to work from home or anywhere they can be most productive.
  • This radical shift will have a profound impact on companies, cities, and broader economic networks.

Source: Live-Mint

Mains Question:

Q. The remote work trend was initially forced on employees due to the pandemic, however, after two years, WFH has become a new normal, and as things settled down new habits formed. In this context, examine the benefits as well as the challenges associated with WFH. (250 words).