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This article should have been published by me in April 09. Just when the draft was ready, a thought occurred to me. The question of work from home or work place arises, only when people have work. A sudden realization came to me that my friends in USA ,UK, India and other countries will be benefited if I can help them access jobs in their countries and if possible in their neighborhood. With that in mind, I embarked on the “Mission Impossible”.
From April till September 09. I was able to publish close to about six thousand jobs based in more than 32 countries with a viewership of around Thirty Thousand on approx. forty forums. Of course a matter for some satisfaction, however still a far cry from my goal of reaching Hundred Thousand people in hundred countries. The necessity to work for a living prevented me from putting more efforts in this direction. A couple of years down the line, I think I will be full time involved in this task.
I got huge support and encouragement from many large multinational organizations & development agencies, which helped me and allowed me to publish their job requirements on my blogs. The letters of thanks I received from people, who accessed the jobs & got the jobs, gave me satisfaction more than any remuneration could give and provided the maximum motivation for me to work further in this direction.
Now having done my bit, I can excuse myself for publishing this long pending article. “Mission Impossible” however continues. To view some of the jobs please Click Here
Work from Home or at home at work place
I do understand that work from home is not possible when you are working in a manufacturing unit or you are doing a work which requires your physical presence at the work place.
However if you are working out of your laptop, and the organisation is in a position to offer you the facility of home login, then I feel the work is more important than the workplace.
Several multinational organizations operating in India have realized this, implemented it and found appreciable increase in productivity levels for the same man-hours and the efforts.
In fact in the recession hit United States and Europe, certain organizations are contemplating the implementation of the norm for everyone to work at home at least one day a week. This single step could raise productivity, save energy, decrease pollution, reduce traffic congestion, cut household expenses, increase quality of family life, and keep educated women in the work force.
In this fast moving and fast growing jet age, everything including technology, thinking, people, processes, and policies have changed to more dynamic pattern. Yet one thing that hasn’t changed and refuses to change is the rigid workplace of the last century. It is amazing in the digital age that most work is still associated with industrial age work rhythms and the symbolic chains that tie workers, knowledge and otherwise, to fixed locations. Flexible workplaces with flexible hours and days are long in coming. This I tell you is a very mild understatement in relation to the present situation. This is because of the business owners who while using latest in technology and machinery,are very primitive when it comes to work pattern. I have seen managed family managed conservative organisations managing to remain as as small as thinkng even after years of existence They are of course encouraged by the overenthusiastic HR managers fresh from B-Schools, and yet to get into the unlearning process.
I can give a classic example of a Indian Corporate with more than hundred years of existence. The chairman of the corporate had his chamber at a location from where he could view the senior managers’ cars entering the building. He used to call the senior managers coming late and discuss with them.
A good one hour used to get involved in this exercise. One hour loss at senior management. Apart from this the other loss was that the senior managers used their time, resources and ingenuity to work ways to avoid detection. Leave alone the loss in productivity & optimization levels, if the attitude at the senior management is such just imagine what would percolate to the down line managers and thousands of workers in the organisation.
One thing is very clear. When the management is fixed mentally on the entry time the employees are fixed on the exit time. productivity and work take a back seat, tasks are left uncompleted, manager can no longer influence the workers to stay back and complete the tasks. Production and productivity suffers.
Discipline at cost?, self extinction?, certainly not I hope. I would always manage with a little less discipline if it ensured a better cash flow for my organisation.
Now let us take a look at the situation in USA
Many U.S. cities have become commuter nightmares as urban sprawl sends people across longer distances in their cars every week day. According to the 2008 U.S. Census estimates, 84 percent of the U.S. population lives within 363 metropolitan areas that spill over central city boundaries and, in some cases, over state lines. Jobs within central business districts have been declining, while jobs outside a ten-mile ring have been growing. Vehicle miles traveled have increased twice as fast as population growth.
Now does this remind you of cities in India ? Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad,Mumbai, Chennai and of course “Oh Kolkata”.
Choosing how long to work and on what schedule has long showed productivity benefits. People are less stressed when they can adjust their hours or days to family or personal needs. A greater feeling of control is associated with more energy and better health, studies show, making those workers more productive. Some savvy senior executives stay out of their offices occasionally even when not traveling, because they get more done in a setting with no interruptions, at home.
For many working parents, the chance to work remotely is the primary way to achieve work-life balance. Many women leave high-powered corporate and professional careers when they have children, frequently starting their own businesses they can run from home, because there is no flexibility and no middle ground between the all-out grind at a workplace demanding physical presence or opting out. A norm of remote work for everyone would ease the strain.
Technology exists to make remote work feasible and effective. Cell phones have liberated people from desks. The need for high-speed network connections is another argument for universal broadband and wi-fi access, with tax deductibility or reimbursement to employees for the connections to their home, as IBM and many US multinationals do in India.
The barriers are the usual human ones. Without a culture of strong accountability, collaboration, trust and personal responsibility, remote work doesn’t work. That culture is missing in too many organizations. Managers don’t always know how to coordinate and communicate with people they do not see face to face; they must value the work product and not the face time. Leadership is important. People need clear goals, deadlines, and performance metrics.
I know there is a huge other side to this also, the disadvantages. I leave it to my friends to argue and debate. As of now, I thank all my friends for their patience and allowing me a few lines about my work.
Some of the recent comments on this post from various forums.
Appreciate your insight. A position we both share.
In all of history, never before has communication devices and technology existed like the ones that exist today. This comment for example, physical location is becoming less important for the conveyance of information.
It has been my dream to enlist a ‘virtual’ workforce, void of physical constraints, and opportunity to embrace knowledge held by professionals in various locations, by the retired, physically challenged, and home workers to name a few.
It is my understanding that your question (captioned above) continues to be challenged, and the response will continue to weaken, to the point we all can work more remotely.
It will become the ‘norm’, help me re-engineer this future.
Change is in the air my friend.
I see two separate and distinct separate issues being addressed in your article. First, are there drivers begging the facilitation of greater use of virtual work places. And second, is the specific workforce ready and able to adopt and accept responsibility for participationion the virtual workplace.
You aptly address the drivers for remote / virtual workplaces. I think most of us can identify with these issues and can draw from experience the many times we’ve been responsibly and productively engaged in working from remote sites. Although somewhat more elusive and greater challenge is in identifying the personality characteristics or traits of those who adapt to this model versus, what I see as the majority of individuals, those who need the structured workplace in order to remain engaged, productive and focused on their 8-10 hour daily assignments or unstructured tasks as they may be.
I’m not yet convinced that the 80-90 percent of deskbound workers are at the work maturity level at which they can thrive when working sans office. While automated call distributors insure that work is kept queued and measureable for remote call center personnel, the same is not true for knowledge workers or ‘meeting bound’ program team members.
I believe that driving success for this larger mass will come thru improved use of integrated video/telecommunications services and social networking tools which will spur an alternative social fabric to the office coffee station. The immediate next step being adoption and integration of these services into common work protocols.
We do a lot of “virtual” work and I find it that it is good to have it when you have very “proceduralized” work flow. Long project when all people know what they do etc. When nature of business is very dynamic we find it is very hard to have “virtual” work force.
Here is an example, one of our clients have a server performance problem that results in service unavailability. Server are up and down. When they down you need react right away and mulitple people have to work together to response quickly. If they all remote it is very inconvenient.
Posted by Michael Petrov
Many US companies are way behind in 21st Century management/HR with regards to the “work from home” opportunity that exists for both the company and the employee. Not all employees are equal in their job descriptions, skill sets or abilities – therefore, no outdated mandate should be given that no one can work from hom – when some can and should. I would greatly appreciate any further testimony from US that promotes the work from home opportunity.
I’m in sales – primarily by phone and email – there is absolutely no reason for me to drive 50 miles a day to come to an office when I can do the same job and work longer hours from my home office.
Any persuasive facts or thoughts that I can send along to my management?
Posted by Le Anne Dolan
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