As we step into the fifth month of working from home (WFH), head honchos across several sectors are aggressively batting for its continuance even in the post-pandemic era. Leadership and employees in such sectors and companies have begun to accept it as the new reality which is here to stay. Many in the PR business too are rooting for it.
PR is a 24/7 business. Employees are expected to be available when there is a need, and many are already doing it even while they are away from the office is one rationale for long term WFH. The sector appears to have seamlessly switched to remote collaboration, and automation technology adoption. It means it is now ready for fewer people working from offices or everyone working from home for a long duration.
Several well-established firms have a good digital infrastructure and are prepared to go even more digital in the future. They have upped the ante on employee wellbeing. However, many professionals in the sector are experiencing WFH fatigue. Four months of remote working have thrown up a few challenges that professionals are coping with.
Feeling of Isolation
Communications is a people-centric business. It needs face to face interactions. No amount of video meetings or training seems adequate to fill this up. Organisations in the sector take pride in their culture that is one of camaraderie, training, fun, and wellbeing. Teams seem to miss the banter and the speed of work an office environment provides. Leaders and managers are now in constant and periodic conversations to encourage their teams to reach out to one another. They are pepping them that they are all in it together.
There is another sense of isolation, as well. Younger professionals who would have been mentored by shadowing veterans, spending time with them one-on-one, are not able to do this now. There is fear about the quality of talent the sector will be able to churn in the mid to long term. While it is okay for seasoned professionals to work from home, it is not the ideal situation for wannabes.
Without the social circle of colleagues who end up being friends, it is hard to stay motivated. For many young professionals who have migrated to another location and live in PG accommodation, the office environment was one of the key motivators. They face challenges in balancing work at home and office work. Working long hours and overworking is common in the sector. In such a situation, not being able to go into an office environment for meetings and conversations seems unthinkable. There is a feeling of loss of camaraderie. As one firm professional put it, “we have regular virtual team meetings and calls. However, in such meetings dry humour, which would have been appreciated during face to face meetings, is misunderstood. It impacts camaraderie.”
When Marissa Mayer, the chief executive of Yahoo, wrote a memo in 2013 calling employees back to offices, her note said, “some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people and impromptu team meetings.” Many in the PR fraternity must be wishing for such a memo from their bosses too.
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