Is Work From Home next big thing as companies and individuals save resources like time and money?

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In recent outbreak of COVID -19 Pandemic, the mandatory requirement of
keeping physical distance has made many companies, especially those in IT
sector to ask their employees to work from home. Work from home has
started mainly with third industrial revolution. Use of computer, the need to
be on internet or any such connected platforms has enabled companies to
offer their employees flexibility of working From Home (WFH) with sufficient
monitoring. In this essay we will discuss about pros and cons of work from
home, how can it be made more effective etc and the way forward.

Pros of work from home:

Related to Transportation:

First and foremost would be that it saves a lot of time – commuting back and
forth from work - Especially in dense urban areas with heavy traffic jams. It
also saves lot of fuel, eases burden on public transportation and road
infrastructure. Hence saves cost also.
Savings on office facilities and infrastructure:
Companies need to provide office space, desk, chair, computer, lighting, air
condition, conference rooms, parking space for individual’s vehicles etc. All this
can be minimized, though cannot be completely done away with, if we adopt
WFH wherever and whenever possible.

More work –life-balance:

Time saved in commuting can be spent qualitatively with family. More over
work can be scheduled according to one’s team’s choice and can have leisure
time to pursue one’s passions. Many people quit everything upon joining work.
This has increased the stress level of many.
Can help in women empowerment:This also restricts their career choices. With WFH getting more acceptances,
they can have wider career options. Women participation in work force can be
improved. Work place harassment can be avoided.

Cons of Work From Home (WFH):

Loss of social interaction:

In many creative fields, ideas emerge during social interactions. For example, in
a seminar new ideas are discussed over a Tea or Coffee break. This cannot
happen in case of WFH. Work gets easier when you are surrounded by people.
You can ask your superiors for help whenever you are stuck. You have
meetings in conference halls to pitch in ideas and improvise upon them. This
all is going to be missed with WFM

May affect women negatively:

Women may get relaxation from house hold work when they are at office. This
is true in joint families where women abuse is accepted as a daily routine.
With WFM, they may never get off from house hold work. More over many
Indian house hold have minimal infrastructure to support office work. For
example, they only have a single laptop- this is used by man head of the house,
leaving women with no options. Internet connection is also not universal (not
even 50%). In rural areas the situation is even worst.

Effects livelihood of small shop keepers:

There will be a small coffee shop near every office. If WFH becomes new
norm, all those people will be jobless. Housekeeping, Security, Clerks work force
will be minimized. Since they are not skilled work force, it will be very difficult
for them to move to a different kind of job.
Lot of distractions and no leisure from work, change in lifestyle:
Kids always are around to disturb us. For most of us job gives a regular
routine to follow. This makes our body and mind organized. With WFH – the
sleeping, eating habits may go to a toss.

Can WFH be adopted universally?Answer is a big no. There are many jobs where you need to be present on field for effective or any learning. For example, a lab technician cannot guide an engineering student to perform a chemistry experiment over online. Similarly, school is not a place to just learn academic subjects, but a place the personality you are.

Way forward:

To begin with we can chart out what kind of organizations have 100% WFH,
what can have partial and kind of jobs where WFH is not effective. Then find
out certain parameters to compare the efficiency of workers while working
from office and Home. Once this is done, we can start with a giving 1 day or 2
days in a week mandatory to WFH for all possible employees. If this goes well,
we can have 1 or 2 days mandatory office days for all employees. Divide
employees in to teams to have office days in rotation. This will have a win-win
situation as employees and employers will save cost and time, will not miss on
socialization. To avoid discrimination towards women or any other potential
employee, employers can offer a laptop to them from the savings they make
on infrastructure cost.

-Anusha Kolli