Home office the new reality

Of Gains


Working From Home: The advantage is time saving in commuting. Getty images

When an old friend who had recently given birth to her second child remarked, “I plan to retire in this company (where she is working), I was a little taken aback. Considering her past history of not lasting beyond a year in her previous assignments, I probed to find out why. “Since they are offering me the option to work from home for a few more months now and at my choice later as well, I guess it makes sense to continue here,”
she explained. This is not the only case in point. Several working professionals are today discovering that the option of working from home works! DH Avenues delves deeper.

Work from home is a phenomenon that is widely used in the US. “Professionals who do not need to use the fixed infrastructure at the workplace exercise this kind of flexibility and the nature of work is such that the interaction with others can be managed remotely,” says PurpleLeap Chief Executive Officer Amit Bansal. Again the concept works for certain professions like copywriters, content editor, multi media specialists, programmers, recruitment consultants, lawyers, chartered accountants. C Mahalingam,
Evp & Chief People Officer, Symphony Services that allows this option selectively and on a need-by basis explains, “we have clear policies in terms of ‘do’s and don’ts’ and also expectations and service deliverables are clearly defined so that productivity does not suffer. This is an employee engagement initiative and we provide reimbursement of Internet and telephone expenses, company paid mobile phones and the like.”

Plus points

The main advantage of this concept is the time saving in commuting to the workplace and with increasing traffic conditions this is a big factor. For the organisation a substantial savings of overhead cost is seen. For instance, in most companies is India, the seat-cost of an individual ranges between Rs 5000 to Rs 10000 per month. “For women this is a real boon and as well for men as it allows them to be with the children when they are back from school and one of them is able to provide the emotional support to the family, while the other has a very tough work schedule,” says Integrated Brand-Comm Pvt. Ltd Head - HR R Kalpana. This option helps particularly where individuals have had personal medical problems, have very young children or elderly ailing parents requiring attention at home. “All such individuals have ended up having longer tenures with us than the average. The same has also helped spread good will and a feeling of comfort among current and prospective team members that the organisation cares about its people,” Radio Mirchi senior Vice President — People InnovationSr Madhvi Arora said.

As a concept that gives flexibility and better manage work life balance, the concept wins hands down. Seconds Shantanu Banerjee, Director Human Resources — Steria (India), the option is granted to the employee by the organisation purely on a merit basis and all the other criterions specified in the policy. If the employees maintain a healthy balance between work and their private lives, both they and the company benefit in the long run.

Shilpa Bhardwaj, Director- People Success, Sapient India says, “to facilitate seamless work without impacting people’s personal lives, we provide all infrastructure and IT support like laptops, broadband connections.

Folks who have conference calls scheduled for late evenings have the flexibility of taking these calls from home. All required infrastructure support is provided by Sapient.”

Nina Nair, Vice President and Head, Human Resources Development, 24/7 Customer adds, “the major benefit is that employee who opts for this facility is highly motivated as it caters to his or her professional as well as personal needs. The individual is more committed and innovative in their approach to work.” Adds Sanmitra Trivedi, Head — HR, Verizon Data Services India, “we consider this option when there are situations that an employee is required to handle project-related communication and coordination which extend beyond business hours normally spent at the workplace. In special situations such as a disaster posing a business continuity challenge, this helps keep critical projects progressing even if employees cannot reach our work locations.”

Dinker Charak, Director - Application Engineering and Partnership, Jivox explains, “staying in sync with rest of the team is the magic pill that makes this work. In Jivox, we are all self-driven to deliver. That is why it is up to each employee to try it out and if and only if it works, will they continue.”

Challenges

While it may sound as the next best thing, this concept also has its share of issues in implementation. “The person who is working from home needs to maintain the same level of discipline as working in the office. More often than not, it is observed that in absence of supervision and a professional environment, productivity drops. People who successfully implement this actually convert one part of their home into office space with their workstation, phone etc. and work as they will work in the office,” opines Bansal.

There is a larger social aspect as well. As most of the social life of the young Indian workforce revolves around the workplace, this option could drastically reduce this interaction that can potentially cause lower productivity. Raj Raghavan, GM, HR, GE JFWTC says, “while telecommuting, it will help to attend meetings and training sessions, whether in person or through a conference call.

Employees who are telecommuting should try and communicate with team members and customers in a regular and consistent manner, just as you would, if you were in office.” Sudeshna Dutta, Co - Founder & EVP Corporate Development & HR, AbsolutData

Research and Analytics

Working from home needs that the necessary technology and tools like web conferencing are in place. Web conference is an easy way of virtually connecting with a lot of people at the same time. You can ‘attend’ meetings and even make PowerPoint presentations right from your home. “I work with colleagues based out of numerous countries in multiple time zones, so our meetings happen on a global clock and quite often very late in the night or early mornings. To connect with our offices worldwide using web collaboration solutions. This gives me the flexibility to sit at home and connect with my colleagues on a real-time basis. The biggest advantage this gives me is I am able to maintain my work-life balance although I have meetings on a regular basis well into the night.

The advantage is I am at home and at work only for the duration of the meeting and do have to travel and get away from family for a single meeting,” says Balaji Kesavaraj, Marketing Head, Cisco WebEx.

Polycom is the pioneer of collaborative technologies and is promoting the vast benefits organisations can derive from audio-video conferencing by setting up an example. About thirteen percent of Polycom employees’ worldwide work primarily from a home office, and another 32 percent telecommute at least once or twice a month but still collaborate in real-time seamlessly amongst each other with the help of Polycom’s leading collaborative solutions.

Polycom offers end-to-end solutions ranging from audio-conferencing, video conferencing to tele-presence.

 “As the solution provider, we witness some of the typical challenges faced by organisations in India and other developing markets,” says Paul Newell, Director of Technical & Strategic Sales, Asia Pacific and Country Manager, Polycom India & SAARC.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry