Some young Africans have reached out to me, asking if they could take an option which is emerging in their respective companies on Work from Home (WFH). Largely, the companies would make it possible for people to work from home if they desire, for a very long time.
I am not a HR director or an employee counselor. Like I do most times, I will tell the person: “I will blog it on Tekedia”. There is a reason for that, using anything on Tekedia is simply following my opinion at your risk. But I do try to be balanced. That said, if I am in a position where I am offered an option to come to work, or work from home, in Africa or outside Africa, I will choose to come to work.
Yes, it seems crazy but let me assure you – if you are early in your career, WFH may not be evidently good for you. Sure, there are many personal benefits to it – no traffic to deal with, no stress to wake up early, potential saving from fuel, etc. But there is a huge risk: you can be isolated by your supervisors and relegated to filler-assignments. Because you do not provide immediacy, you become a mere backup to those they can see.
“Zoom fatigue” — a form of exhaustion from excessive video chatting — has swept the world as the technology has quickly gained widespread adoption for work, education and personal connection during the pandemic. Social scientists tell The Wall Street Journal that a number of factors are at play as the format disrupts “normal, instinctual” forms of human communication. Among the sources of stress: constantly seeing an image of yourself, an inability to read body language, a lack of real-time feedback and seeing giant faces on the scree.
Those days in banking, everyone wanted to be in the Head Office because the decision makers see you daily in the headquarters. The HR guys are eating with you in the canteen. You think most care for that guy in Umuahia when there is one who gave him a ride last night. Throughout my time in then-Diamond Bank, I delivered all good news to the Head of HR (Reginald) in person. Most were that The Guardian published my articles; he would say, “make a copy and give my staff for your file”. And when I received Cisco and Microsoft Certifications, I took the originals to show my Executive Director in person. They knew me – my name and my records, first hand. If I was in a branch, that connection would not have been possible! Then extrapolate to WFH in perpetuity – it may not help you.
Practically, unless your supervisor is working from home, do not attempt to work from home. Yes, if the immediate boss is coming to work, you must also report to work. He/she wants someone not distracted, and very visible to handle important assignments which can get feedback live in the conference room. Coming to office helps you build new relationships to advance with colleagues. You meet people who can help you in canteens, lobbies, etc. WFH makes such nearly impossible. And most importantly, WFH robs you of one of the most important things we get in companies: culture and how firms do things. You may think you can get those on your pajamas but I do tell you, you are mistaken.
Get your shirts, blouses, trousers, blazers and suits ready – and show up at work. No excuses, WFH option or not.