You Like Working From Home?

You Like Working From Home?

800 371 Kamal Karanth

It was the weekend; I dropped my friend off at his place and said, “see you tomorrow”; he replied, “no buddy, see you on Tuesday. I’m working from home this Monday. We looked at each other and burst out laughing. Does that conversation ring a bell? Do you frown or pass jokes on people who work from home (WFH)? Why it is difficult to accept that “work” does not necessarily take place only at the office? As much as WFH has become a norm in many sectors, we still find it tricky to seamlessly integrate this into our minds. Does your employer or boss allow you to WFH? If the answer is yes then you are lucky. Wait a second though as I have a few questions for you:

  • Do you feel a touch shy when you inform your boss and co-workers that you’ll be WFH on a particular day?
  • How does your boss and colleagues react when you or some else in the office decides to WFH on any given day?
  • Does your organisation have any meritorious metrics in place to measure productivity of those who choose to WFH for long periods of time?
  • Do more women opt for the WFH policy in your organisation and as a result have you noticed a better retention rate with the fairer sex?

Some of my HR friends had the following things to say on Work from Home:

  • They are ambiguous about any sort of tangible increase in productivity as a direct result of this policy.
  • Organisations by and large have not placed any adequate and measurable metrics in place to measure the effectiveness of WFH.
  • While employees are generally very receptive towards the WFH policy (why shouldn’t they?), bosses are displaying mixed reactions more so when their direct reports (DRs) opt to work from home on Mondays and Fridays 🙂
  • Surprisingly, this flexibility has NOT contributed to any significant increase in retention rates.

I receive mixed messages on the utility of this policy as it appears be too loosely managed internally for its effectiveness to be well measured. And hey, it does not help that every single individual at work want it for themselves but not for others!

“I’m not sure when she comes or goes (“kab aati hai kabjaati hai” to quote him in verbatim). Her response rate has also dropped!” remarked one of my colleagues about his peer who had chosen to work predominantly from home after she had her 1st child. I got worried as she was our top talent and my 1st WFH experiment. Naturally, I promptly asked her immediate boss for some verification on her so–called dip in productivity. “It is the men at work who need to get rid of their chauvinism. We all love to have our wives and sisters given the option of WFH yet we somewhat have difficulties in accepting the nuances when we don’t get to regularly meet our female colleagues at work,” he concluded.

“Why should only women be looked at as needing the WFH policy more than men?” my better half argued. I have to agree with her. The few times I tried WFH, I was an overall pest – objecting to the sounds of mixers; cookers; calling bells from friendly neighbours; the sound of the TV interfering my calls, and more! It got me thinking that perhaps the gender mix on WFH is changing considerably and is no longer a “woman’s need only”?

Despite these arguments, I’m in the opinion that long stints of WFH deprives you of precious personal development opportunity as when we are physically at work, we are continuously learning from the workings of others and not focused merely on “just doing our job”. There have been few who have told me that they dislike WFH for these reasons:

  • I like dressing up for work; whom is there for me to impress at home? 🙂
  • My Mother in Law thinks I’m gazing at computer while the LPG vendor is waiting for his payment (I wonder how this gets managed when I’m NOT at home!)
  • It’s difficult to focus when there is just one too many things that we do simultaneously while WFH, i.e. crafting an email while watching TV?

Different people have different takes on the WFH concept. There are some who want it to be viewed more like a leave option hence why can’t we have 7 days WFH/per year similar to 7 days of sick leave/per year?

Managers, on the other hand, refuse to extend the WFH to just about any talent unless it’s to a top talent or a highly performing team mate; irony is that somebody who might actually be struggling to perform at work may benefit the most from WFH. Then there’s “manager bias” too –which is based on the theory that performance is not uniform when this benefit is extended to many. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if performance is more consistent when people work from the office?

Do you like Working from Home? Do you think it’s an additional tool to get the best out of an employee and for the overall good of an organisation?

Despite my daughter sitting on my head, I was extremely focused on ‘work’ during my WFH days. It is when she grew up that my motivation to WFH dropped! 🙂

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