Ever since the pandemic began, the worries regarding the economic growth of the country and the activities contributing towards it also resided alongside. The governments are still craving for alternatives to normalcy because it will never be the same again for at least some years. The measures to curb the spread are being adopted worldwide and one such measure is the work from home culture.
Working From Home (WFH) has been brought into practice on a larger scale now but it has been there already. The new normal has forced people to stay at homes but the flow of capital and the need for services can't stop. So, to contain the spread of the virus and stop the economy from growing negative, working from home alternative has come in handy.
The role of technology and artificial intelligence is significant in smooth running. The use of technology has increased be it e-commerce or e-learning. You will understand as you go ahead with the article. So, let us understand how things are with this new alternative to the regular offices and how successful it has been till now in a developing digital economy.
Technical advancement has worked as a support system
The reliance on technology to get our work done has increased rapidly and is increasing every day. Working from home requires a good technical setup. This involves a good computer, better connectivity, and a proper sitting area. Not everyone is able to obtain the perfect setup. However, it is being made possible through the best use of technology. Remote Working is a blessing in a situation like this where we have to maintain a social distance. Virtual meetings, cloud conferencing, virtual/mixed/augmented reality, secure access to data are the forefront leaders that have ensured the smoothness in working from home culture.
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India is a developing economy and it is continuously moving towards digitization. Remote Working will be one such concept that would add to the measures being adopted. Western countries already had this in practice. They offer their employees to work from their homes, or any remote place they prefer, occasionally. The pandemic is deadly but it gave something new and amazing concepts. Small firms in India have now brought the remote work culture in practice and may continue this even in the post-COVID world.
Adavantages of Remote Working
Working from the solace of homes is a dream for many employees. The idea of remote working fulfills that dream. The advantages of working from home are elucidated here.
1. Work from the comfort of your home
Dragging yourself to the workplace is not the case with remote working. Just wake up and you are ready to work. The office going population has always craved for an alternative that would facilitate them with the privilege to avoid the morning hustle. Remote working does the exact same.
2. Extra savings
A portion of income is spent on commuting. When the employees are working from their homes, they have the option to save that fraction of the money. One added benefit is that the traffic jams won't exhaust you anymore. People working in metro cities can connect. The long queue of vehicles is tiring and adds to the exhaustion. However, you are privileged to skip this whole process, when you work from your home, or wherever you prefer as your remote place.
3. Extra family time
There is no one who can disavow to the fact that the rush in today's lifestyle has held families apart, and if someone is able to manage their work-life and family, they deserve great respect. Remote working will let you be with your loved ones most of the time. You get to look after your family when you stay at your homes and will not have to worry about them, like the office going people do.
Remote working is a gift for single mothers and wives too. This allows for proper balance between our work and personal lives.
4. Location Independence
Why stay limited only to opportunities near us? Who doesn’t wish to explore job opportunities beyond regions and states, if the circumstances call for it and of course the biggest hindrance, i.e the geographical barrier, is eliminated? A huge perk of working from home is exactly this. We have access to a wider job opportunity range that isn’t restricted to geographic locations.
This is especially an advantage for job seekers who are existing in rural communities and small towns in which there aren’t as many available local positions. This would allow for the frequently moving people like military spouses to be able to work from anywhere, rather than having to switch jobs at every dislocation.
5. More Inclusivity
Remote working allows organizations to embrace the barriers of diversity by recruiting people from varying cultural, socioeconomic, and geographic backgrounds having varying perspectives, that can be difficult to achieve if the recruiting is confined to a particular locale which generally people may not want or might not be able to afford to live near.
By recruiting employed who have the liberty of working from in their own safe communities, companies can further promote diversity and community. Remote working allows a flexible schedule for people such as those with disabilities, who encounter a tough time in discovering steady employment at onsite jobs, the chance of pursuing career opportunities while disposing of the hassle of commuting.
There are several other minor usefulness of remote working culture. However, nothing in this world has the foremost advantages, there are challenges too.
So, let's look at the challenges with remote working
1. Technical issues
As mentioned above, remote working requires a proper technical setup. Any issues with the aforementioned necessities will alter the whole process. Poor connectivity, slow device, and power failure make the once desired thing frustrating. India has a larger rural population and technological advancements have not caught up with them.
In offices, there are Information Technology professionals who look after such issues but when employees are working from their homes, it is not possible to aid everyone with professionals. This brings in the need to learn about technology. Employees should be trained to get over minor faults.
“There’s a saying that any company that provides IT services is bad at IT. Especially for those working with BFSI [banking, insurance, and financial services] clients, there were a lot of data security issues involved,” says Vinay Bafna (30), who works in ICICI’s equity research division.
Human brain has a very high tendency to get distracted. When employees work from their places, they have people and things happening around them. This causes a distraction and a lesser focus on work is normal. This may lead to lesser productivity than in a conventional work setting and can even lead to termination. The mixing of professional and personal lives has made things clumsy.
“There are actually no specific working hours, we end up just working the entire day. No routine, nothing!” says Aanchal Sharda (24), an associate at Mumbai-based consulting firm Think Analytics.
3. Lack of interaction
A traditional office setup lets you sit with your colleagues over a coffee and talk about things apart from work. However, when people are working from home, the interaction with fellow workers is affected and leads to bad communication skills. It may make a person less socially active and can further affect their personality.
The other challenge related to less interaction is the effect on employees' teamwork abilities. Lesser collaboration leads to poor compatibility.
“If you love your work, you’d rather go to the office and look for the perfect setting,” says Prishta Grover (23), a Gurugram-based analyst at RBS.
4. Blurred lines between personal and professional life
While allowing for the better scope to balance personal and professional lives, Work from home also leads to blurring of the boundaries between our workspace and our personal space. While our home was primarily meant to be a place reserved for relaxation with work being the last thing on our minds, work from home has deprived us of this luxury, owing to which employers now have a difficult time properly be able to abandon our work worries and properly relax.
“There are no clear boundaries anymore. I get messages at eight in the morning though my work doesn’t start until 9.30. Now even people from other teams call me late at night. It used to be a one-off thing before but this is becoming the norm,” says Neha Abrol (29), who works as a product manager at one of India’s largest private sector banks.
5. Communication Challenges
Productive in-person meetings become a complication when each member is working from home. We largely rely on nonverbal communication, the intricacies of which are disposed of when emails, phone calls, or even video calls are used to communicate. This can lead to plenty of misinterpretations and miscommunications.
"While we've all grown used to home working as the pandemic has continued, it continues to present huge challenges in maintaining the right work/life balance," Wildgoose managing director Jonny Edser to CNN
The challenges are acute and need to be addressed and removed if the companies want Remote Working to be used as an alternative. A survey by Buffer shows that people want the alternative of Remote Working to be there.
Stats approve the acceptance of Remote Working as an alternative
98% of People want to continue working remotely
Buffer and AngelList in their State of Remote Work report have given some crucial data which shows the acceptance of Remote Working as an alternative. A global survey was conducted and over 3500 remote workers participated in it to answer questions related to Remote Working. In the overview, they say, “There’s one statistic that remains unequivocal each year: remote workers almost unanimously want to continue to work remotely (at least for some of the time) for the rest of their careers.”
98 percent of the participants said that they want to continue working remotely. When asked about recommending it to others, 97 percent said yes. 58% of the participants were satisfied with the flexibility that Remote Working provides. 80℅ of remote workers have their own homes as their preferred workplace and hence would continue with that.
Big firms are making it mandatory
Big tech companies are recommending their employees to work remotely and want them to do so in the future as well.
Google parent company Alphabet is recommending its employees in North America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East to work remotely.
Twitter has made it mandatory globally for its employees to work remotely.
Facebook is extending work from home guidance to all employees globally whose jobs allow them to do so, company spokesperson Anthony Harrison said in a statement to CNN.
Amazon had a similar kind of suggestion for its employees.
It is discussed in the article that Remote Working is not a new concept. It has been there for a significant amount of time. However, the pandemic has made it the only way to work. Indian firms are also adopting this work culture and the future of Remote Working looks brighter. There are advantages as well as disadvantages but as it is perceived, Remote Working is a great concept and should be an alternative.
Note: The anecdotes are taken from The Hindu article.