Work from home arrangement is a possible solution for both the associates and the company, says Patricia Mascarenhas while analysing this mode of working.
Has the cut throat office politics and uncertain landscape of employment made you long for more control of your professional life? Or do you crave to spend more time with your family? For those who dream about working from home (WFH) to supplement their income or even earn a full-time living, now is the time.
For some WFH is a full time thing where they come attend office occasionally, for meetings or scheduled check-ins. Whereas others work from home one or two days a week. “WFH policy has been initiated by many companies including ours to facilitate the employee by providing an avenue to contribute professionally while catering to other exigencies (concerning self, spouse, dependent children, dependent parents/ parents-in-law),” says Srimathi Shivashankar, assistant vice president, diversity and sustainability, HCL Technologies.
Thanks to continued technology advancements, communications and corporate psyche, home offices have become increasingly popular in today’s rocky economic climate. “It is slowly growing to become a ‘household practice’,” says Rajita Singh, head, HR, Broadridge Financial Solutions. Shivashankar agrees, “Employees want it as this will facilitate them to achieve the desired level of success in their profession without ignoring their role and responsibilities at the home front.” She further adds that while this work arrangement improves an employee’s morale and motivation, it is important for an employee to act responsibly and ensure the deliverables are met.
Work Force Management or WFM, is popularly known as a telecommuting term coined by Jack Nilles in early 1970s while stuck in traffic in Los Angeles. Today, organisations have begun to view telecommuting as a tool to attract and retain talent. “It saves on the travel time especially in metropolitan cities like Bangalore, Mumbai or Delhi,” explains Murali Padmanabhan, global head, learning and leadership development, Virtusa Corporation. Hitesh Sethi, CEO, Dun and Bradstreet Tangram Advisory Services Pvt Ltd, agrees, “It allows employees to achieve better work-life balance, reduces stress and frees up time that can be used to finish work faster and increasing productivity.”
WFH is a win-win situation for both workers and employers. This type of work culture means reduced office stress. It reduces absenteeism and tardiness as one can structure their day around their work and responsibilities due to the flexible timings thus becoming more productive. WFH also reduces infrastructural cost for the organisation. “For instance, telecommunication executives tend to use their own computers, phones etc. This reduces equipment costs,” says Sethi. This makes employees more efficient, improves their performance and job satisfaction. “Since it reduces work-family conflict, one is more likely to get the job done as soon as possible and move on to other tasks thereby maximising performance,” he adds.
However, working from home requires an alternative set of guidelines like specific monitoring systems and well defined goals. According to Singh, if there are clearly defined outcomes in terms of content, schedule, quality, and results, it should not matter from where they do the work. “Employees should ascertain that deliverables, quality and timelines are met without any compromise,” he adds. Email exchanges, weekly meetings, daily and weekly reports keep work on track. Video-conferencing options have proven invaluable in making quick, daily, face-to-face, virtual meetings possible. These arrangements keep employees accountable for their work.
However, the success of working from home varies from person to person. For some employees it may be Godsent and they work hard to prove that they deserve this privilege. But for some, the loss of routine works against them. Some people need the structure and discipline that a work environment provides to work productively and having no established routine can be harmful. “It requires dedication so a junior employee who needs to be monitored may not be allowed to work from home. On the other hand, a team leader who manages people cannot work from home either,” says Sethi.
Also, one should consider that all homes may not have a conducive working environment and may not allow for an uninterrupted work day. “We don’t have a standard telecommunication network across locations. So we constantly face infrastructural problems like the slow internet speed, power cuts, network issues etc,” says Padmanabhan. Therefore, only a segment of employees can actually work from home and choosing them is the task at hand.