IntroductionThere was the time when companies did not think innovatively in providing flexibility to their employees and people had to go to office daily and work. Not going office meant no work. But with the time as the work stress on employees increased resulting in a drop in productivity companies started thinking of ways to reduce stress on employees and provide them the flexibility. This is where the concept of work from home emerged and it becomes more popular among software companies due to their nature of work. If we are to define work from home, it is a facility provided by a company to its employees whereby they can work remotely from their home at times when required. But since everything has its own pros and cons same is true here. Let us see whether the work from home concept is really fruitful and are there any limitations to it.
Factors required to make Work from Home a possibility
- Feasibility : This is a biggest aspect for work from home to be applicable. Not all the companies can give work from home facilities to their employees. It largely depends on the type of work and t the type of product or service a company is into. Generally, hardware oriented industries where work is more on machines or other hardware are not conducive for work from home as the hardware cannot be carried out of the premises. While the companies dealing with software development, support and testing are more suitable for work from home as the work can be done on laptops which can be carried home. Similarly, nature of work in office also plays a role in deciding about work from home. If the work is such that constant face to face interaction is required with the team members in the office then it is not possible as face to face team interaction becomes difficult from home. But if the work is such that it can be done over phone calls, messaging or if it involves preparing of documents on PC then work from home is easily possible.
- Commitment : Commitment on the part of employee is very essential for the work from home to be successful. When an employee grants work from home to the employee then it is keeping the trust that he or she will work sincerely from home and give the same output as in the office. An employee should also be committed to working sincerely from home as they do in the office. They should not get distracted and relaxed while working from home and think that they can take a time off in between as nobody is there to track them. Sometimes companies face such situations when few employees who have been granted work from home try to misuse it and do not give expected productivity. This is the time when companies start thinking of limiting it. Any facility given should not be misused.
- Infrastructure : Whenever employees are granted work from home by companies in most cases some basic infrastructure like laptops, good internet connection, power backup and login credentials are required. Normally official email accounts are used by companies for communication between the employees. Companies do not allow access to these email accounts over public internet and hence employees working from home are given VPN login credentials through which they can log into the company email server from their home internet. If this is not given to the employee then it is not possible to access company emails from home. Constant power supply at home is also required to keep the internet routers working and charging the laptops.
Pros and Cons of Work from Home concept
- Commuting time : One of the biggest advantage of granting work from home in big cities and towns is that employee's to and fro commuting time to the office is saved and the same time can be utilized productively by the employee in the actual work.This advantage is even bigger if the employee stays far from the office and takes a long time to reach the office. For example, It is seen that in big cities like Bangalore, Mumbai etc due to heavy peak hour traffic people spend about two hours each in their to and fro journey from home to office and office to home which is a sheer waste of time.
- Company resources : Companies can also save somewhat on their resources like AC and power bills, canteen facilities etc if few of their employees take work from home in between.
- Home distraction : This is one of the draw backs of work from home if an employee is not serious about it. When an employee works from home the environment is quite different from the office. At home there is a relaxed environment and a person can be easily distracted by things like spouse or children coming and talking and asking for help. Also if a person is at home he may be tempted to help his spouse by undertaking some household work. They may also feel like having a nap after lunch in afternoon. Plus there are always other distractions at home like family members talking, noise etc. Hence all these things can hamper the continuity of work and productivity may be less. Hence an employee working from home need to be very committed and serious in their work. They should think that they are in office only and should work in an isolated room where nobody can disturb them. l They should also resist the temptation of getting up roaming round and trying to help the family members. Hence I feel work from home can be done only if an employee is very serious about it.
- Relaxed atmosphere : For employees who love to work in a very relaxed atmosphere without much crowd, constant supervision of boss and interference from colleagues work from home is a good choice. These kind of people are able to concentrate well from home as they feel more relaxed and they are able to give good productivity.
- Substitute for leave : One of the biggest advantage of work from home is that it has reduced the need of taking a leave. Employees have limited leaves in a company and they always want to save it for need. Sometimes there are cases where an employee is not able to come to office due to some reasons like public transport strike, illness, a family member not well, injury etc but otherwise is OK to work. Such employees who are free at home can apply for work from home and do their office work. It saves employees from taking unnecessary leaves due to minor reasons. It also allows the company to get productivity from its employee by allowing him or her to work from home as if the employee would have taken leave then the company would have suffered a loss in the productivity.
- Employee motivation : If the employer provides work from home facility to the employee then it does result in the employee motivation. Sometimes if there are some problems at home and employee needs to compulsorily come to the office then it may result in a decrease of employee productivity as most of the time a person will be thinking about home. With the work from home facility, the employee feels more motivated to be in the company as in case of some problems he can stay at home and also continue his or her office work. An employee also feels that the company also cares for their personal life. Nowadays work from home facility is rolled out by many companies as part of their work-life balance program.
- Flexibility : Flexibility is one of the key advantages of work from home. An employee can plan their working hours at home and there is no hard and fast to match the office timings of 9 am to 6 pm. They can plan it as per their need provided there are no meetings or strict deadlines within that time frame. For example, if they have some work in morning hours like a doctor's appointment then they can start their work late and continue till late in the evening. Many companies nowadays want just work to be done irrespective of schedule so in work from home employee can manage his work schedule as per his convenience.
ConclusionNowadays many companies are providing work from home to their employees if their nature of work permits. Its advantages outweigh the disadvantages if utilized properly. With the increase in traffic and commuting time to the office, work from home can really be a boon, both for the employee and employer. But yes employees need to be serious about it and not take it lightly and work productivity should not get affected. Work from home has many advantages and with passing time I feel this culture is growing day by day. Good network connectivity and speed, new messaging and video calling applications are further giving a boost to it.