Early in the morning, Delhi-based infotech professional Amit Sharma gets ready for work. He goes through the routine, dons a smart shirt, polished shoes, wolfs down breakfast, kisses his wife goodbye...and walks out of the dining room into the spare bedroom. His laptop awaits, his workstation. “I feel I’ve delivered better ideas and solutions than I did when I had to travel two hours to reach office in Gurgaon,” says Sharma, who began working from home five years ago. It’s only the ‘getting ready’ bit, religiously performed, that demarcates it from ‘home’.
There are others (including this writer) who feel they would not get out of bed, leave alone shave, without the familiar edifice of an office to structure or streamline their work day. Really, can one be efficient with the pressure cooker going off in the kitchen and the garbage fellow ringing the doorbell? And yes, there’s also the small matter of ‘discipline’. “In terms of efficiency and productivity, the boss’s presence is important. You need someone to look over your shoulder,” says Bangalore-based Harish Bijoor.
But do remember, India is in the early stages of the growth led by new-age companies in the internet, technology and telecom sectors, all of which encourage working from home. Many such companies say having employees working from home—consultant is the most popular moniker currently—translates to huge savings in establishment costs. With office real estate costs increasing across cities, many more companies are actively looking at this option.
“There’s no broad-based answer, but we’ve had cases where people were far more productive from home and we have seen lack of productivity in office, where people have become clock-watchers. We are happy to give people the option of working from home,” says Raman Roy, bpo entrepreneur and chairman, Quattro Global Services. Many also cite the time, energy and money saved in commuting, especially in bigger and crowded cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. The recurring fuel costs, the sheer frustration of navigating tough traffic—none of it is conducive to creating a good workday.
So companies are veering around to the view that while in-person meetings are essential, work-from-home and other flexible options ensure work spaces are more creatively deployed and employees can eliminate the unproductive aspects from their workday. Of course, industry leaders are not necessarily interested in flexiwork options for their own sake. They are naturally keen that employees be enabled to maximise productivity—ergo, clear identification of “progress milestones” and “performance metrics” is critical. Managers also need to be trained to handle virtual teams.
Till recently, working from home had a different context in India—“sitting at home” was construed as not working at all and being unemployed. Now, with many companies allowing flexitime, it is increasingly getting acceptable. “On an average, productivity for any given individual would be high at home as there are fewer disturbances. At office, there are loud talking colleagues, someone asks you out for that coffee you can’t refuse and the boss often calls to chat about something,” says Devangshu Dutta, writer and consultant.
Obviously, working from home cannot be for everyone. Even seasoned home-based professionals often lament the lack of an office environment—the sheer group dynamics that drives creativity. Says Joyjeet Mukherjee, an infotech professional who has been working from home for the last five years while his wife has been doing this since 2005, “There is a strong social element in office which helps you network with people. At home you don’t have colleagues to interact with. Also, if you are stuck you can seek help from your colleagues. At home, you are on your own.”
In an age where technology makes geographical location irrelevant and where a person’s whereabouts and his work can be traced anywhere round the clock in an always-online scenario, the debate over whether or not to allow working from home seems quite futile. But if Marissa Mayers uses an office-is-supreme approach and manages to transform a floundering Yahoo’s fortunes, then who knows, we could all be attending many meetings and coffee breaks while bitching about the terrible traffic on the way to work.
Job's in Yahoo! and Google are much prized. In fact, Hotmail too, for that matter. Perhaps software companies like these have jobs seen to be the most engaging, but Infosys employs people in a corporate framework, differently. The important idea that comes to mind is, that the perception of the software professional in Infosys should be freelance, and similar organisations. It would be really beneficial, if people from a software company like Infosys could find a job as easily, as when currently working in Infosys, in another company. This is not the situation, even in Yahoo! and Google, because the technology is valued, and the binary code in programming is universal. It's not difficult to copy software, or modify it. The reality might be, there is no security in software and cyberspace, and govt.'s use these means, which is a ponder worth the minute.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT