Mumbai: As the one-year anniversary of work-from-home nears, how are those still working out of home feeling? Most are ready to come in to work, it seems. They are missing canteen trips with colleagues and the office banter, while there is another section that is feeling what psychologists call ‘social anxiety’ about getting back to the old normal.
When Covid-19 made working from home the norm, Aniruddha Bhajan, a software engineer with a private firm, said he felt good about not having to make the daily gruelling commute through traffic or in crowded trains. “Now, I have mixed feelings about it. I wake up and start working in bed. Though the office has provided a worktable, chair and laptop, home has started feeling like a workstation,” he says, adding that once the situation improves, he looks forward most to small joys like going to the canteen with his colleagues.
A copywriter, Apeksha Tickoo is also on the same page. She feels WFH is “more trying and hectic”, a lot of which stems from communication gaps, co-ordination hiccups and the constant ringing of the phone beyond work hours. Though like Bhajan, she too had thought of WFH as a boon, thinking she would get more time with her family. But she now realises that she gets to see them only at night, when she is off work. Now, she calls it “just a pile of cons”.
On the other hand, Niyusha Bolar, who is a researcher and consultant and calls herself an introvert, says she is “extremely happy” with work-from-home. Apart from the commute time it saves her, she does not have to spend time on ‘corporate dressing’ that her work required. “There are certain people I am happy not to interact with. That has added to my happiness,” she says. Bolar spends the saved time in exercise, reading and learning new skills.
Mental health professionals say the new work environment had eased shy people into a comfort zone and they are now reluctant to meet people face-to-face. In fact, some are finding it so overwhelming that they are seeking professional help. Arti Shroff, a psychologist and counsellor, says she has been seeing many cases of mild social anxiety and adjustment issues as the transition, now that offices are expecting people to get back to work, is making the introverts feel “exposed”.
Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty seconds that opinion. He adds that there is a section of people who are happy to return to social interaction and yet others who are scared of contracting Covid-19 now. “As they see a second wave imminent and we are at the anniversary, this is a phenomenon called the ‘anniversary reaction’, where anxiety increases,” he says.