We had asked you for your take on the Work-from-home vs work-from office debate.
Here are three more responses from Bhautik Joshi, an IT professional from Pune, Sujit B and MS Prakash.
M S Prakash: Office atmosphere alone will be conducive for better productivity
Working from office will alone provide proper atmosphere for interaction with colleagues and leaders. There will be seriousness in the work and productivity will be much higher.
Working from home can be considered when there is a need to be at home on some emergencies, on a case-to-case basis, but not as a right. Office atmosphere alone will be conducive for better productivity.
Sujit B: Work from home is a privilege and not an employee right
Yes! Many would like to work from home to avoid the horrifying traffic, save money on travel and have a good work life balance. At the same time one need to agree that work from home is a privilege and not an employee right.
Should an organisation be flexible and let some of its staff work from home or divide time between office and home?
A very important factor here to remember is though ‘one’ may be working hard to achieve deadlines, accomplish tasks, following regulations and thus contributing to success of organisation at the end of the day ‘one’ is getting his salary or compensation from someone else. That someone else has invested money having faith on the employee that he/ she would be disciplined, follow ethics and would not abuse the liberty and facility given to him/ her and contribute in best possible manner to get the business running performing his / her duties.
Having said that nature of work is an important factor to consider the option of giving permission to work from home. Some of the regular day to day work profiles where there are timelines to meet but no specific interaction required with client and other employees (Including reporting manager) then such teams should be given option to work from home if required infrastructure is made available without costing more to the organisation.
Compensation for such profile should be planned accordingly. A penalty should be associated for not meeting up the timeline, if employee is unable to justify valid reason for delay. Accordingly the penalty should be deducted from salary. If the delay is regular that should obviously result in more strict action.
Specifically, has flexible timing helped legions of women remain productive while involved in childcare too?
Productivity has direct equation with knowledge, ethics and discipline. Yes! It is important whether men or women to give sufficient time to their child / children. Again if the work profile / role does not demand heavy interaction with clients and other employees and the person working from home, in this case women, is very independent having no need of guidance then it is likely that she would be able to balance work and child care both and the fact that she is able to give time for child care would be a great motivation for her to do the work in most efficient and effective manner that leads to productivity.
Are such people policies good for the company or do they result in less innovation and hamper productivity?
When people are involved policies, guidelines and standard operating procedures become absolute necessary. It is always good to have people policies. Clarity is the most important aspects when work, goals, vision is involved and it is always good to have policies to bring out that clarity. Policies, as such, do not hamper innovation or productivity.
When are employees more productive and innovative? When they work from home or office?
We humans are social animals. Group activity and team work always provide better results, even though one has definite day to day task being in office may provide a different perspective and there is scope for learning other activities and keep self away from monotonous work.
Also being part of team working together there is always an opportunity to help someone who is struggling to complete the work or looking for guidance and vice versa. Small team events like lunch or dinner at times, discussions on favourite subjects like movie or books could prove to be a good stress buster. Working from home though one may avoid the hectic travel, save money and achieve work-life balance, work satisfaction could be much less as compared to working from office.
Bhautik Joshi: Companiess can have a mix of flexi hours and work from home
Dynamics of work culture have changed in corporate India quite rapidly during the past decade; telecommuting or work from home is one such trend which has emerged strongly in this phase. This policy has worked for some firms. While HR teams of many other companies have tried walking this path however they eventually retracted due to some reasons when it was found this policy was probably not feasible for their company.
In my opinion an employee has to first understand if he/she would be able to perform effectively working from home while meeting business as usual requirement of their roles and responsibilities, considering factors like Internet connectivity, power back up (cities where load shedding is frequent), stress free environment at home (important if you have small kids at home).
Companies can have a mix of flexi hours and work from home policy rather than encouraging the latter completely, as it does tend to get misused if allowed liberally expecting all employees to responsibly avail this benefit. Having a common work from home policy at a higher level is a must to establish a boundary under which this policy would be governed, beyond this it should be left between the line manager and the employee to manage how it is going to be implemented based on the roles they perform.
A lot of tier 2 and tier 3 cities in India are witnessing rapid growth in terms of IT companies setting up their hubs in SEZs and IT parks which normally are located on the outskirts of the city, while the public transport is not as developed to that of a metro city like Mumbai or Delhi. Also majority of the urban population in India has moved or is moving to a nuclear family set up which demands higher accountability from a couple to manage their household chores, looking after kids etc.
In these scenarios flexi hours and work from home policy does help a lot in many ways like cutting down on travelling time, attending personal emergencies at home, attending business calls before or after regular working hours etc. While many companies drive such policies more towards the benefit of women employee, it surely helps women to remain on track with their careers. However HR teams should be mindful that it should not lead to a feeling of gender bias amongst men.
These policies work best when a company is open to change while assessing various teams mapped to different lines of business which helps HR teams to evaluate to what extent it can allow this policy to be used and keeping data security well aligned under this framework is essential.
Productivity is a very subjective topic which differs from firm to firm; every employee has his/her own style of working, some perform well in teams, while some are more innovative or productive while working in isolation; this kind of manpower mix is prevalent at workplace everywhere so it is very difficult to tie in work from home perk to overall effect visible in an employee’s capability to perform.
In case a company wishes to adopt flexi hours and work from home policy, setting clear expectations around this model works to the advantage of both the employee and the employer resulting in a win-win situation.