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WFH will be irrelevant in a few years time...

Before emails became the norm at the workplace. People worked around the boundaries of the 9-to-6 work hour regime. The generally accepted convention was that: If you'd tried to reach someone after hours, there would be no one there to pick up the phone, because everyone at the office had gone home. The only way you could try to reach out to that person again was to call back the following morning. The telephone or face-to-face meetings were socially and professionally accepted protocols.


First email addresses, then came the personal computer.

In addition to receiving just a verbal confirmation, we then had the ability to communicate and access a wider variety of information media - lengthy text messages, pictures and sometimes videos (bandwidth permitting).


This transformation gave way to many opportunities for individuals and businesses to communicate: digital e-receipts containing information that would allow us to reduce the back-and-forth phone calls, allowing us to make collective decisions in a much quicker way. Although the speed at which we conducted business increased significantly, we were still constrained by the boundaries of normal working hours as personal computers were largely used in the office and people left their workstations at the end of the day.


Laptops and WiFi.

We used to access the Internet by plugging one of these cards into the side of our laptops. That enabled us to surf the net wherever that was an Internet access point - at school, at work, in the cafe, at public places, etc. More importantly, with Internet on the move, we could now send and receive emails virtually anywhere. Having access to emails at home implied that people were able to continue to respond even after the stipulated working hours. Implied is the operative word here because there are no real obligations to reply a client or your boss after working hours. But think about the potential consequences that come along with this:


A competitor might beat you at responding to a potential sales lead while you were "out of the office". You might have missed that long awaited promotion at the workplace just because you failed to scratch the itch in your boss' brain on an idea for a new product launch at 1am in the morning.


So, now we have started to over-step the boundaries. In the past your performance was judged based on your presence and delivery at the workplace. Today, in the digital world, you are omni-present and being judged all of the time. Responsive-ness (or in this case the lack of it) translates to missed opportunities, lower sales, and lower bonuses.


This vicious cycle and frenzy of responding to emails after office hours gets propagated over the years, and clients/bosses grew accustomed to the instant gratification of having an almost immediate response from a vendor/colleague. Just think about the number of times you had felt uneasy just because a friend or a colleague didn't reply to your email "immediately". Instant gratification.


Emails and instant messaging are now so cheap (and virtually free) that we are communicating and replying every minute on a daily basis.


A compulsive need to reply every message.

Today, my whatsapp and wechat sometimes looks like this: