It’s high time for employees to return to work!

THERE are many of mixed feelings going around about the lifting of the work from home (WFH) mandate, which came into effect on April 1. For some, the move is simply premature, considering the fact that the number of COVID-19 cases have only recently started showing a decrease.

For others, especially those who have been stuck working from home for close to a year now, this is high time indeed!

The idea of working from home is an exciting one as one gets to avoid the crazy rush hour traffic trying to get to work or back, get to save money on petrol and get to be around your loved ones all day. So, what’s there not to like WFH? It is the long-term effects on a person’s mental health and this is a matter of great concern.

Working from home meant that many are tele-working full-time for the first time, isolated from colleagues, friends and family. Our daily routines are disrupted, and one year on, there are still people who are struggling to strike a balance between their work life and personal life, which can lead to stress, anxiety and depression.

And then, there’s also a temptation to work longer hours, and for those who do not have a home office set-up, there’s no disconnect between home and office life.

Where and how do you draw the line between working from home, and home-ing from work before the stress and inevitable burnout start to kick in?

With all these in mind, this goes without saying that the Government’s move to lift the work from home mandate is a good decision. This is taking into consideration the fact that there is increasing prevalence of mental disorders in Malaysia during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Perhaps also worth noting at this point is also the fact that the work from home arrangement doesn’t work for all sectors. For some levels of staff, particularly those whose jobs require them to be on site, the work from home policy has inadvertently posed some difficulties as their jobs cannot be done remotely.

The manufacturing industry, for instance, involves processes that are complex and technical in nature, and require the presence of different teams comprising management and supervisory staff.

Meanwhile, finance department employees also face similar problems as they are not allowed to bring certain tasks home due to the high levels of confidential information involved which, if breached or hacked, can lead to disastrous outcomes for the company.

Ultimately, the decision to lift the work from home mandate has brought a sigh of relief to many people, but this does not mean that they can ‘celebrate’ just yet.

The COVID-19 pandemic still looms above our heads like a dark cloud, and all staff should continue to comply with the necessary standard operating procedures (SOPs) to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the workplace. – April 4, 2021

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