The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a new era of workplace culture. The sudden restrictions and lockdowns made companies shift almost overnight to models where employees could now work from home. Remote working or work-from-home (WFH) models suddenly become the main way the employees would join their organisations, instead of being reserved for a particular subset of employees in certain industries and roles.
As the COVID-19 pandemic receded on the back of higher vaccination rates, companies announced that they would be calling back employees to the office. From large tech companies to Wall Street institutions and more, employees were being recalled to offices in larger numbers.
But with cases on the rise across Europe once again , nations have started imposing restrictions anew. Amidst what has now become the new normal, many are wondering about the long-term impact of WFH on younger employees.
What can be the adverse effects of WFH?
For young employees, the chance to make important social connections and learn the crucial skills that are needed later during their career are absent when working from home. The lack of interpersonal experience, managerial skills, and osmotic learning can prove to be detrimental for young graduates who are looking to navigate their company’s corporate environment later in their careers.
Many business leaders like Ken Griffin, the Manager and CEO of Citadel LLC, a multinational hedge fund and the largest market maker in the US, have already warned young professionals against the risk of continuing to work from home. “If you are early in your career, you are making a grave mistake not being back at work," Griffin said at the Economic Club of Chicago.
“It’s incredibly difficult to have the managerial experiences and interpersonal experiences that you need to have to take your career forward in a work-remotely environment. So for our youngest members of our workforce, I’m gravely concerned that the loss of early career development opportunities is going to cost us dearly over the decades to come," he added.
Studies have also shown that remote employees are often passed over for greater career opportunities by managers in favour of employees working from the office.
Benefits of working from home
While companies and corporate leaders are quick to point out the ill effects of remote working, research and employees themselves paint a different picture. A recent study by Harvard Business School Online shows that an overwhelming majority of professionals have experienced advancement and growth -- both on the job and at home -- this year. Earlier this year, Microsoft’s first-annual Work Trend Index, which surveyed 30,000 people from 31 countries, revealed that 73 percent of workers want to be able to work from home after the pandemic.
Many also acknowledge the fact that the true measure of how successful a WFH model is dependent on the trust that an organisation has in its employees as well as the general line of work for employees. Knowledge workers seem to enjoy greater benefits from WFH models, as the importance of collaborative creation is much lower for their fields of work.
The demand for remote working has been so much that professional online network LinkedIn recently rolled out remote, on-site, and hybrid job search features after receiving overwhelming demand for flexible workplace searches in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With COVID-19 possibly sticking around for years as an endemic threat to countries, the question of remote working will keep cropping up. Companies must recognise the benefits of the model while also establishing systems to aid and assist young professionals who are starting out their careers during these tumultuous times, in order to truly adjust to the situation that they are being presented with.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)