WFH is still an alien concept in most Indian organisations. Much of it has to do with a lack of trust between the boss and the employee. So how do you ensure you keep your boss' faith while simultaneously setting boundaries.
Whether voluntarily or out of compulsion, your organisation has allowed you to work from home. Fact is, the idea of WFH is relatively new to most Indian organisations. So if you’re a young employee whose boss wants to control every minute of your life, you’re probably hating this WFH system because your boss has probably called you thrice already since you started reading this article. Let’s set a few things straight here – this isn’t about justifying behaviour of horrible bosses. But it does help to know from where your boss is coming. Like it or not, most bosses like to have their employees before their eyes. Sure, it helps to co-ordinate and run a team better but the other reason (and you may disagree vehemently if you’re a boss here) is that most bosses tend to be distrusting of their employees. Now it could be that your boss is indeed an insecure person but could it be that you’ve given your boss reasons to distrust you? Think about it, really, because every small thing counts. Your long “loo breaks” during which you’ve managed to cram in an episode or two of Modern Family (we know, guys, we know; the stalls aren’t sound proof) or your sudden ‘illness’ after a long weekend, all of it adds up.
5 things your boss expects from you when you’re working from home
In any case, what will likely help you for this period of quarantine (and indeed in your career thereafter) is to see things from your boss’ perspective. Again, this doesn’t mean you bend over backwards for your boss but rather use it to your advantage so you end up working smarter. So, here are five things your boss likely expects from you when you’re working from home.
1. To treat it like any other day in the office
You wouldn’t take a nap in the middle of the day when you’re in office, would you? Then why would you hit the sack after lunch, even if it is for 20 minutes? The idea of working from home is, well, working from home. Treat it like any other day at work and maintain your schedule. Avoid waking up late because that’ll likely mess up your body clock and then make you sluggish throughout the day. If you’re saving an hour or so of your commute, use that time to have a leisurely breakfast or pack in that workout you’ve always promised yourself.
2. To be punctual
Whether it’s for a meeting or, really, simply just logging in on time every morning, it helps if you’re on time every time. You may have excuses for getting into work late but now that you’re working from home, surely you can make that trip from your bedroom to the computer screen on time? Being punctual helps you build your boss’ trust in you. It reveals you take your job seriously no matter whether you’re working from home or office.
3. To be kept updated
It is fair for your boss to expect you to keep them updated when you’re working from home. Of course this doesn’t mean sending them an email every 15 minutes but it will help if you document your workflow. If you’re able to work on shared documents or sheets, do it. That way, should your boss want, s/he can keep a track of what you’ve been doing, live. If your boss has trust issues, this will help you call their bluff because they can know exactly what you’re doing at what point in the day. Ultimately, send out an email at the end of the day on what you’ve completed that day and what you intend to complete the next day. This may seem like you’re blowing your trumpet but it’s what will help you build trust with your boss. If not, it’ll shame them into reducing their ‘surveillance’ over you.
4. To be visible (or audible)
It may seem unreasonable for your boss to expect you to be on camera. And sure, it may seem like an invasion of your privacy (you are, after all, exposing your personal space to someone you probably don’t even like or trust) but it helps if you’re able to communicate face-to-face with your boss every once in a while. It could simply be a short Zoom call (there are backgrounds you can use so your boss doesn’t see what your bedroom looks like) or just a phone call to assure your boss that you are indeed diligently performing your duties. Reassurance is key. If you can keep your boss reassured, half your battle is won.
5. To be professional
Remember that video of the BBC expert Professor Robert Kelly whose kids walked into his study during a live broadcast? Here, let’s play it for you:
It’s cute if it happens once but imagine if this had to happen during every other broadcast? There’s a good possibility Professor Kelly would lose his job. It’s important you set boundaries for your family members; they need to know you’re working. If it means maintaining silence for the entire duration of your hour-long conference call, so be it.
Ultimately, it is just as important to set your boundaries with your boss. They cannot expect you to take a call beyond work hours or be available at a time when you were, say, commuting to or from work. That’s your time.