Article: Work from home: Benefits and challenges

Employee Engagement

Work from home: Benefits and challenges

In the recent Randstad Survey, about 53% Indian employees preferred telecommuting.
Work from home: Benefits and challenges

Organizations are waking up to employee well-being in a different way. They have realized that employee productivity enhances the success – for both employee and the employer, and one of the key aspects for organizations is to ensure employees are not ‘forced’ to work, but they enjoy their time at work. The time can be at the office or even from home. 

About 53% Indian employees said they prefer telecommuting, revealing workplace flexibility as one of the top choices at work. In a Survey conducted by Randstad, the telecommuting was preferred mode of working for people aged 45+ and above signaling that not only the Millennials, but there is a thought churning at the Gen X level as well. Breaking down to gender, 52% male employees and 54% female prefer telecommuting.

But how much has telecommuting changed the way we work? As mentioned by Keyuri Singh, VP-HR, Infogain, even in a recent Survey by LinkedIn, it was found that flexible work schedule and the ability to work remotely are increasingly becoming important factors for Indian professionals, and about 48% of them said they will forgo a top position and higher salary for more flexibility. “Organizations also see benefits across the board, as telecommuting helps to meet the growing demands of companies to keep productivity and employee retention rates high while keeping overhead costs low. A Gallup report found remote workers log an average of four more hours of work a week than on-site employees. Companies can also use the concept of “hot – desking” where employees share a desk – on different days different employees use the same desk. This helps organizations save on prime office desks by having fewer desks than the number of people they employ when employees telecommute,” said Keyuri.

Talking about the Survey insights, Dr. Moorthy K Uppaluri, MD & CEO, Randstad India, said, "India is stepping on to a new workplace era equipped by both technology and demographic capabilities. Today, an increasing number of organizations are viewing work as ‘something you do’, rather than ‘somewhere you go’ and there is a lot of focus to take work to the people as opposed to bringing the people to work. This will erase the border around organizations, thus broadly undefining the workplace and offering the much wanted freedom and empowerment to the workforce”.

Apart from offering great flexibility while working, telecommuting is a huge blessing in disguise. Shares Ruchika Sawhney, VP – HR & Admin at Udio, “Commuting today is a huge barrier and also frustrating, in such cases, telecommute option comes as blessing in disguise. It is also beneficial for growing organization as it helps to retain talent by offering flexibility that improves productivity and keeping costs low.”

The Randstad survey also mentions that a healthier work-life balance and less stress (61%) are the primary factors influencing employees not to overwork. 54% wanted to have more free time and 51% mentioned they would not overwork to be able to attend to a family member/relative. 42% also said they wanted to spend more time with their children. 

Keeping these in mind, organizations have been actively involved in improving employee relations, and are doling out policies of work-from-home (WFH) for employees. Some companies have compulsory WFH option every month. From 4 days a month to even as-per requirements, organizations are more than happy to accommodate the needs of an employer as long as the productivity is not hampered. At Infogain, says Keyuri, “We allow employees to work from home 4 days in a month and it gets extended on a need basis. Employees just need to inform their managers and opt for Work-from-Home in our Attendance portal, which gets approved by their manager.”

At Udio, WFH is allowed; for people who do not need to collaborate for their deliverable and do not need high-end tech needs to get their jobs done. 

And does it involve a massive investment from organizations? Apparently, No. Cloud has tremendously helped this WFH initiative of companies. Most employees are given a company datacard. “Our business e-mails and instant messaging to communicate internally is hosted on cloud and employees can access their e-mails from anywhere. They can also do web-conferencing, chat, and online calls to coordinate with co-workers through instant messaging application,” shared Keyuri. “Since VPN option is available for people to work from home and we have our emails configured on Google as well as Outlook, so everything is available on the cloud,” said Ruchika.

Challenges 

Keyuri talks about the hindrances when employees are in collaborative projects, managing time, building trust and also security issues. 

  • Collaborative project: Some projects need more collaboration and face-to-face meeting, discussions become crucial for the project success. Telecommuting may be difficult for employees placed in such projects
  • Time management: Employees working from home should be able to manage their time judiciously and be responsive and available online as required. So, telecommuters must have the qualities of proper time management, understanding of the work and its process, and ability of decision making.
  • Trust Building: Employees need to make sure that they do not violate the trust that their managers have placed in them. There should be perfect coordination/chemistry with their manager, boss or co-workers. Any lapse in responsibility from the telecommuter can breach the trustworthiness
  • Fear of Proper recognition & Isolation: As employees are not physically present in the office they may fear that they may not get proper recognition for the work they have done. So, to tackle this situation, a proper communication must be maintained between employees and employers. Also, some employees feel isolated if they work from home for a long duration as they do not meet their teams regularly
  • Infrastructure and Security Issue: A proper internet connectivity is essential to ensure that there is no disruption in the work process. Also, there are certain confidential company information and it need to be ensured that those are safe and secure and doesn’t get disclosed in public. Some customers of IT services companies want employees to be in a secure zone, and this can pose a challenge to tele- commuting.

 

As Moorthy puts it, “Creating an effective telecommuting program for your organization is not about where employees work from, but how they work more efficiently; and to achieve this, it is critical to implement comprehensive systems and processes. Clarity on what the telecommuting environment entails and what is expected out of the employees is imperative to productivity and accountability, thus ensuring efficacy of such employee friendly policies.” 

 

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Culture

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