Study says work-life balance disturbed by remote working culture

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Tue, 2020-05-26 00:45

RIYADH: In the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, governments around the world introduced strict measures to curb its spread.

Due to the unavailability of a vaccine against the virus, social distancing is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

And with stringent coronavirus measures, companies have made arrangements for employees to work from home. As there is no clarity about an end to this viral outbreak, debate on work-life balance has been ignited.

A new study titled “How COVID-19 changed the way people work” — conducted by global cybersecurity company Kaspersky — reveals how quarantine has influenced how people work from home.

The “new normal” that workers are now facing is starting to have an impact on their work-life balance.

Nearly a third (31 percent) of workers said they are spending more time working than they did before. However, 46 percent said they have increased the amount of time they spend on personal activities.

This increased time on “personal activities” may be attributed to the fact that many people do not have to spend time commuting.

The study added that it has become harder for workers to separate working and personal activity, especially when it comes to IT.

It further stated that 55 percent of workers are now reading more news compared with life before the pandemic.

Workers are also developing a habit of using personal services for work, increasing digital risks, including the disclosure of sensitive information. 

Some 42 percent of employees use personal email accounts for work-related matters, and 49 percent admit their usage has increased when working from home. 

“Organizations cannot just fulfill all user requests, such as allowing staff to use any services. It is necessary to find a balance between user convenience, business necessity and security. To achieve this, a company should provide access to services based on the principle of only supplying minimal and necessary privileges, implement a VPN and use secure and approved corporate systems,” said Andrey Evdokimov, chief information security officer at Kaspersky.

He added: “These types of software may have certain restrictions that slightly reduce usability, but offer greater assurances in providing security measures.”

Dr. Waquar Ahmad Khan, an assistant professor at Taibah University, Madinah told Arab News: “The COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent work-from-home imperatives and lockdowns have led to significant changes in the workings and lifestyles.”

He highlighted that working from home has both positive and negative aspects. 

“Being an academic I can say that teaching is an occupation with low suitability to work from home. To teach remotely without socializing can compromise both teachers and students’ academic performance and mental health,” he said.

There are other issues from the new working culture. Support from colleagues is now harder to find, at least face-to-face, he said, adding that anxieties about the public health issues itself are high.

Dr. Majed Al-Hedayan, a legal expert, told Arab News that the pandemic has led to a restructuring of the concept of job commitments.

“It has become an ambitious and optimistic view contrary to what it was before the pandemic that the performance of workers was below the level of ambition,” he added.

“This motivates public and private entities to adopt a methodology for remote working in the coming period after the pandemic,” said Al-Hedayan.
 

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