Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Working From Home

Let me say ... I love it.

Working from home is not a new concept but in India, probably it is not encouraged. I am not talking about people who are into free lancing. This about those people who work for large enterprises and works along with a team to deliver services.

Now, why I love it?

1. Freedom: It lets me operate the way I want to and the pressure is far less compared to being nailed down to a ergonomic (or not so ergonomic) chair and the manager or team lead breathing down your neck.

2. More productive: Given the freedom and environment that I am most comfortable with, I get more work done than when I am in office. In fact, I log into start work earlier than what I would do when I am in office. Moreover, when I am at home, I somehow feel more responsible towards what needs to be delivered and does not feel that I am stretching myself.

3. No distraction: Working from home is a bliss if you need long hours of concentration. It is next to impossible to get that level of concentration if you are in office where people bump into you and end up in casual conversations that you sometimes cannot escape and ultimately lose time.

4. Other benefits:
  • No commute
  • No traffic jams ( and no heart attacks)
  • Save fuel
  • No pollution
  • Not stuck with canteen food (especially when Chinese Combo has banana and curd rice)

These were personal benefits. But, for corporates, there are huge benefits by promoting this culture.

1. Save on the infrastructure - Reduce investment in power, desk space, desktops, phones and other company utilities. Instead divert fraction of this investment to setup better servers and connectivity infrastructure (VPN, Bandwidth, 3G etc.)

2. People care - Employees benefit out of less travel (health, time and monitory benefit). The concerns of work-life balance by employees get addressed as they get to be at home and they feel responsible for their own time.

3. Business Continuity - For any incidents like 9/11, this kind of operation model always helps with such attacks never affecting the services because you don't station all you employees at one place. One recent incident was the snow fall in the UK where most of the services were disrupted. But there was one case where Silicon.com ensured business continuity by having people work from home.

Working from home has its own set of challenges which corporates may dig out. I am going to try an give some answers here for those challenges.

1. Collaboration & interacting with a team - While this may be one of the prime concerns, instant messaging (IM), VoIP and collaboration tools like Google Docs are always there as a solution to this. For the conference facilities across geographies, there are virtual platforms like SecondLife that can be tapped to reduce travel.

2. Monitoring the staff - Yes, this is a problem. Working from home culture is not going to start working just like that. Unified Communications Technology can be used to create monitoring mechanisms. Clear roles and responsibilities need to be defined for the employees who form a team and thereby creating accountability.

For people interested, here is a post about tips for working from home.

There are some things I miss when I work from home. The human interaction, all the gossips and office politics :). But then, there is Facebook, Twitter and IM for that (i know, not for human interaction). These not just things for personal use. Its high time business starts using these and avail the benefits.

C'mon, this is age of the internet.

Having said that, I have some work to finish before I go to office tomorrow.

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