Saturday, 20 April 2013

Work From Home: The Battle of Flexibility and Productivity

After the entry of multinational companies in India, we saw a dramatic change in the work culture.  Stress levels multiplied, salaries hiked, transparency increased, working hours became synonymous to the time zone of clients, cubicles replaced cabins and the most enthralling one was the introduction of Work from Home (WfH) culture. The WfH policy broke free the rigid work environment and brought in a wave of flexibility.

In the beginning, this privilege was restricted to the higher management people. But slowly and steadily it was seen moving towards the lower level employees too. Currently, almost all companies have the policy open for their employees.  One such company is Atos, a French multinational IT giant. They claim that the introduction of  Work from Home policy is an attempt to make their company a great place to work.


From an employee's perspective, operating from home seems bliss. No one peeping through the screen; manager not monitoring the in and out timings; heavy traffic been given a miss; saving of fuel and travelling time. Also, it is certainly a life saver for the women who juggle between work and home. It helps them create a perfect balance between home and office. These pointers cater to higher employee satisfaction, higher productivity and thus a better work life balance.

However, a lady called Marissa Mayer thinks otherwise. Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo abolished the Work from Home policy a few days back. Influenced by Yahoo’s decision, a few other companies like IBM are planning to revoke their work from home policy. An extract from the memo issued to the Yahoo employees is as follows:
"We need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together."

The statement makes you contemplate about WfH from a different perspective. Yahoo surely had a point when it said that physical presence creates an impact. Don’t we have some of our most refreshing conversations on the lunch table? When there is a delivery lined up and things do not work, don’t we assemble in meeting rooms to strategize?  Isn’t it important that we know who our team mates are? Isn’t it important to work together as one big team?  Undoubtedly, it is and for that we need to have a level of comfort within our team.

Work From Home

Team bonding is critical for higher productivity but does that mean one needs to meet his/her team mates daily? We are living in the 21st century, technology and communication have increased so much that the entire world has shrunk. It’s not necessary to meet someone to actually see them. People staying at far ends can see and talk to each other on tools like Skype. So why the need to physically be at one place when even after operating from their homes, people can work together as one team.

Instead of revoking the policy, companies should work towards building a stronger Work from Home policy. Refresh and reinvent the WfH policy timely. Have better system and measures to coordinate and monitor the resources working remotely. Protocols should be set, monitored and improved continuously. Scrapping policies is not the way out. This will only ensure productivity getting reduced and the freedom of employees getting restrained.

The Work from Home policy is not just an advantage for the employees, but it also helps the company significantly. A lot of companies introduced this idea of WfH with a hope to mutually benefit. On one hand it meant employee satisfaction, on the other hand it was a weapon of cost cutting for employer. It meant saving on electricity and real estate costs. In times of recession, WfH was considered a better idea than layoffs.

Employee satisfaction is one of the pillars that keeps any organization from collapsing. At the same time it’s important that employees do not take the organization for granted. It should be made sure that they do not abuse the system. The final aim should be to create a win-win situation for both the employer and employee.

PS: This post was written for the website: :scroll360

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Mumbai you are mine But am I urs?

23 years back I was born in the city of dreams, the city of Bollywood, in the city that never sleeps, in the city which was then called Bombay by my Grandfather and is now called Mumbai by my brother! I have literally grown up in the lap of this city. It taught me to think rationally, it taught me to keep moving come what may, it gave me the privilege to dream big, it gave me a chance to fall in love with the vast beautiful sea that encircles it and lastly it made me a tough woman. The past 23 years have seen me hopping in and out of the city. But whenever I was away from this city I would feel something missing from my almost perfect life.


Living in a different city made me realize how lucky I was to grow up in Mumbai. I did my engineering from Pune and though overall it is a safe city, commuting is a big issue. The public transport is in a bad state and to top it all, Men don't have any chivalry towards women. They shamelessly sit on the reserved seats and blatantly refuse to get up. On the contrary, in Mumbai we see that generally men do not occupy the seats which are reserved for women or if seated they get up on requesting.

Albeit Mumbai being better than other cities, it still has scope for improvement. We still have incidents of eve teasing, molestation and acid attacks happening in the trains, buses, rickshaws and on the roads. As a Woman, it’s also important to stay alert and aware when the surroundings seem to be dubious. In case of mishaps while traveling in public transport systems, make use of the helpline numbers. 

I had once asked a male friend, “Is Mumbai safe for women?” He instantly replied YES. I then asked him “Do you think I can go to a beach unaccompanied post 10pm to enjoy the tranquility? Do you think I can watch a movie alone? Do you think it is okay if I go on a long drive at late night?” He replied “You can go to the beach and for the  drive in the day time and why would you want to watch a movie alone, I can tag along.”

Mumbaikars how can Safety be subjective? How can the definition of what is safe be one thing at night and something else in the morning? Why can’t we have a Mumbai which is safe 24*7 and a Mumbai which is safe in every nook and corner? I want to see a Mumbai where every Woman is respected, cared for and loved, irrespective of the fact that she is somebody else’s daughter, mother, sister or wife. I want to see a Mumbai where every Woman is Liberal and Free.

Generally when we think of Women and Mumbai we fail to focus on issues other than Safety like Sanitization, Education and Health. Unlike Men, women need proper toilets to pee and they can’t attend the natures call in open grounds. Currently, the Public toilets are not everywhere and the ones that are there are hardly clean.  We need hygienic public toilets at lot many locations.

Let there be Equality

Year after year Mumbai has seen girls clearing toughest entrance exams and higher percentage of girls topping board exams but still when it comes to giving them the freedom to choose their career path we fail. Only educating them is not enough. There are 2 other things that equally important: 
  1. No gender discrimination in Education. 
  2. Freedom to choose their Career Path.
So what if she is a girl and wants to become a wildlife photographer, so what if she is a girl and wants to become a pilot, so what if she is a girl and wants to enter politics to bring in a social reform? Treat her equally as you treat your son. Let her dream and let her strive to make her dreams come true.

Say No to Female Foeticide

As per the data compiled by the Brihanmumbai Muncipal Corporation (BMC), the sex ratio at birth for 2012 stood at 922 girls per 1000 males. Although India is progressing in the fields of science and technology, when it comes to accepting the women equally as men we fail miserably. There are still cases of female foeticide prevailing in Mumbai. There still exist families which pressurize a woman to give birth to a boy only because he would take forward their family name. There are still hospitals in Mumbai which carry out the illegal sex determination process. Government and Judiciary system have done their bit by creating stringent laws for such mal practitioners. We as citizens should now come out with the information of such erring professionals and alert the police.

Last but the most important concern is the health issues Women face. Cardiovascular diseases, Osteoporosis, Breast Cancer and Menopause are some health related issues found in increasing number of women from Mumbai and all over the world.  A lot of women fail to take the precautionary measures and a lot others lack awareness. Regular full body checkups should be a must from an age as early as 30 years.  Also, we must spread awareness about ailments like Breast Cancer and Osteoporosis which are lesser known.

I love my Mumbai City and I know we all do. But let us make this city safe sound and secure for every woman so that she feels the city is reciprocating her love. So that she feels it is as much her's as she is of Mumbai!

PS: This post is a part of the Times Of India initiative #MumbaiForWomen supported by Indiblogger.