Various surveys and discussions are being carried out on the future of remote working in India. While some surveys claim that India Inc. is voting for a comeback to the workplace, many professionals on the other hand question these claims and opines that work from home can be more advantageous and productive.
Satish Kumar V, CEO at EverestIMS Technologies said, It would be premature to state that we are in a "post-pandemic" scenario. We are very much still within the clutches of the COVID 19 virus, with countries just getting started with their vaccination programs. Vaccination has just started for seniors and will soon be released to adults is what we glean. However, we opine that we are far from any form of normalcy and that remote working will be the norm for some time to come.”
There are a host of reasons that we take this stance. Foremost amongst them being that vaccination of the entire nation is going to take some time - even years perhaps with our population and complexities in distribution across different types of towns, villages, hamlets, etc. Without a proper deployment, our assuming that things are fine is only going to make the situation worse. In fact, as we are writing this, the nation is staring at a second wave. Some pockets in certain cities are full-fledged containment zones. During this time, we cannot let our guard down and allow the virus to proliferate.
It is in this very situation that "work from home" becomes all-important. Why? Because it allows companies to keep the show running while keeping employees protected. It is also more productive because even if employees return to workplaces there will be an extreme set of regulations in place to prevent transmission. Things like there not being more than a certain number of people in a conference room or transportation norms, etc.
These regulations will ultimately lead to a lethargic pace of progress which will not yield results. And what happens when an infection spreads in an office? It could be lethal, affect morale, and ultimately become the very antithesis of what we sought to fight by going into a remote work mode.
Another reason that we feel strongly about this is that over the last year most employees have been able to adapt to this mode using various channels for communication and proper project management techniques for ensuring work continuity. They have absorbed these systems without breach of activity and are well set to continue in the same mode. Also, companies are actually seeing higher levels of productivity with unproductive travel time being taken out of the equation.
We see remote work continuing for quite some time till there is sufficient evidence and confidence that office set-ups can be resumed without risk.
Vikas Bhonsle, CEO at Crayon Software Experts India commented, “I believe if organizations decide to call-off the remote working mode, this will only lead to a mixed reaction. Remote working has turned out to be a revolutionary change observed in the past year and it has led to the complete remodeling of work models in organizations. Earlier, working from home was hardly seen as a possibility or was even discussed by organizations. But since the lockdown, for many employees, remote working has turned out to be a more practical option, and there has been hardly any impact on their productivity. Many female professionals can now continue their jobs while they are with their families and especially young children and ailing elders at home. In case WFH is revoked, that might again lead to a challenge for some of these families.”
In my opinion, Employers around the world are bestriding a bridge between yesterday, when most employees at most companies were physically present at work, and tomorrow, when a vaccine or effective treatment will open the possibility of safe return to the traditional workplace. Yet even when that happens, remote work will have earned a permanent place in the employment mix. The world is already preparing for a completely digital work environment and this is making remote working the next normal. Also, logistically speaking, with more people working from home will improve traffic situations, and people can avoid long hours to travel and get more personal time to spend.
Prashanth GJ, CEO at TechnoBind said, “Remote working or WFH which has become the normal in the last year that we have seen is here to stay. I have personally talked to multiple people across board - at the management level to the employee level. There are varying feedbacks that I have encountered. But net inference is that it is clearly something which will continue as a part of the mainstream office productivity scenario. While there may be gaps in terms of a quick resolution to a problem that a coding team encounters where if they were in office, it was easy to get the team into a conference room and brainstorm on the white board the different ideas and come up with a move-on solution very quickly, which is not so straight forward when people are working remotely. There are collaborative tools available that facilitate this but the issue is that of softer aspects as everybody being available at that time, co-ordinating by calling everyone to get onto a tele-meeting, etc which is not so straight forward and hence the gaps. Then there is the issue of self-discipline of the employees - for example in a sales organisation the employee needs to be connected with their customer base, keep meeting them and talking to them to build that relationship which is the foundation of a sales motion - how does one ensure this keeps happening - there is no metric here unlike a coding team which tracks lines of codes delivered.’’
But there are so many other advantages of remote working - the most obvious is that of saving of the travel time in large cities like ours. It is just not about the time saved, but the physical and mental stress avoided by staying out of the noisy and dusty Indian roads - that itself can add significant percentage points in terms of increased productivity of employees.
The employee is fresh when he starts at 9.30 than the haggled scene when he is come in navigating the traffic. Similarly, at the end of the day, his experience is better allowing him deliver more eventually. Many have said that with WFH they end up working more hours but from the organisation's point of view it is increased productivity.
Then there is the aspect of lowered office costs for the organisation - with a WFH or even a rostered approach to working from office, the real estate requirements can easily go down. I personally know companies which have given up floors of office space and moved people to a permanent WFH. The cost savings and hence increased profitability for the organisation is a big bonus.