Recently there was a memo from Yahoo CEO that in no uncertain terms talked about the importance of physical presence in Yahoo offices. What it implied is that work-from-home option is off and move your sorry asses back to your desks. Apparently, physical presence is somehow correlated with efficiency at work. The premise is faulty to say the least. This is not a biased opinion of someone who works from home day in and day out and I mean professionally. Because I anyway slog my butt off working at my home that does not even count as productive work in India. That is another story altogether.
So, I decided to think a little in depth about what work from home actually means. Somehow, Corporates feel that they are doing a favor by letting the employee work from home irrespective of the fact that the employee delivers the work as per deadline and attends to any conference calls etc. even in clearly off office hours. When most people are told that you work from home, they think that you dress in your pajamas (okay, they are not wrong there :)), put your feet up and while away your time at the computer on social media networks.
Nice fantasy! The truth is far from it. When a person works from home, discipline is of utmost importance. If you don’t schedule your work, you will end up messing up a lot of things including deadlines. So, your productivity if anything is heightened. You become a better planner. And yes, you don’t need to be physically present even in office spaces. Don’t most of us work with international clients without seeing them sometimes ever in our life. Skype, conference call, whatever you want to call it, every person is now just a flick of a button away. And there are enough examples of people sticking around to show the boss or taking tea and coffee and social media breaks while at work on their office desks.
Now let us look at the advantages. You cut tremendous hours in commuting for your employees when you allow them to work out of their homes not to mention save on company’s infrastructure and resource costs. A person working out of home is using their own electricity/ computer/laptop/ internet and space. You get the benefit of a stress-free employee who enjoys flexitimes to cater to specific needs or chores that could range from caregiving for sick parent/partner to young kids. An employee who will be in a pretty bad shape of mind if forced to come and work from office.
Think about it! And what happens to the millions of women who drop out of the workforce in India each year to raise families. A report says that in 2009-2010, a staggering 57% of women with graduate and post graduate degrees were taking care of domestic duties only. At a time when organizations struggle with talent crunch, experienced talented women dropping out of workforce because they simply cannot afford to go to office is very sad and hurtful to the economy. Companies have to actively engage this resource in order to increase their own productivity.
Finally, freelancers like me would just not be able to work if we did not have work-from-home options. It is true that in individual jobs like that of a Content Writer or an IT professional working on solo projects, it is easier to work in isolation. It would certainly not be possible for a Sales professional or a doctor to do so. But, that said, technology must also be kept in mind. These days when one can study online and work globally sitting at home, there is no reason why most companies should not adopt this option wholeheartedly and at least offer it to some employees. It could be a judicious mix of both working in office and from home but this option is definitely there to stay.
Also don’t you think that work-life balance is the responsibility of both the company and the individual? We have only one life to live. And we can at least try to do justice to both our roles. Corporates can help us achieve that while not compromising their own bottomlines. As much as we try to turn a blind eye to it, raising a family and burnout are serious issues that need to be addressed. An individual can’t possibly leave out personal worries when reporting to work. And one way of alleviating some stress is by giving a flexitime option in terms of work from home.
I think it is a win-win situation and would also help in decongesting some of our cities.
What do you think of work-from-home option?
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