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


  1. A good article . Working from home will take some effort to start India in every organisation .

    Travel India

  2. WFH is surely going to impact productivity and efficiency. How can you expect one person to dedicate sufficient time to work at home ; thats surely going to question your diligence. Your nagging , crying baby might cause issues to you while you work on some importance code fix from home or attending status call meetings from home. There are various pro's and cons in both the cases. I desperately want WFH cz i am a lazy bum and wfh can benifit me in many cases. Do you think win win situation is possible ...there has always been more than one issues everytime and what has the company done ...i am not talking about general.. ESAT graph always takes a dip every quarter and what remains behind is unhappiness and anger over the appraisals. WFH is a total no -no and I am with Marrisa Aunty for whatever she stated! Good post as usual. I am expecting more of this from you. You certainly are doing a good job . Never knew you had to provision for WFH. Now I am jealous of you! Very much *Sigh* ^_^

  3. Dropped by from scroll360. Interesting topic and very well articulated thoughts! Keep writing such good stuff :-)