I have been getting this from some television programs, social media messages and several fun loving people that work from home is not good. Work from office is all good. I think that just like other things in the world, both work from home and work from office might have several good or bad features. No one mode of work can be said to be perfect.
During the past one and a half year I tried to get the opinions of several people of different age groups on “work from home is good or bad”. I found that the answer to “work from home preference” may depend on what kind of a person you are.
There are generally two kinds of people – Extroverts and Introverts.
Almost all extroverts (that I talked to) said that work from office is better. Introverts however, said that their productivity increased while working from home and they felt more relaxed. Almost all the parents said they loved having their children work from home.
Some people said, “Work from home means wastage of time and less productivity. You have your family members around and they can talk to you in between your office hours”.
To this, some people answered as follows, “When you work at office don’t you get your colleagues visiting your desk for unofficial reasons or gossips. Don’t you go for canteen breaks – at least 20-30 minutes? Don’t you go on smoking breaks at least four to five times a day each accounting more than fifteen minutes? Don’t you get disturbed by general noise / discussions near your desk”?
In short, they said that there are several ways where time gets wasted in office environment too.
Some extroverts were more practical and told that both (work from office and home) have their advantages and disadvantages. None is perfect. Making fun of only work from home is not correct.
Since, several experts on television and social media are already telling issues while working from home, I am trying to list some of the commonly spoken issues while working from office:
Note: I am also an employee and listing the commonly spoken issues doesn't mean I am against work from office. Advantages / Disadvantages are associated with almost everything. Likes / Dislikes and preferences vary from person to person. Please use your "Vivek" (discretion) before concluding anything from this article.
Scene 1 (Auto/Taxi Availability): It was 6:30 pm and she was back on the road looking for auto/taxi. Public transport was not in her preference list for various good reasons including safety/security. The apps to hire auto/taxi often irritated her due to surge in hiring charge and unavailability or lesser availability during the peak office hours. What could she do? Nothing she could think of! She had to get on the road daily to reach her office / home.
Scene 2 (Rain Rain Go Away): Deep, a claims assistant got stuck in traffic. Reason was rain. On a rainy day it was almost always true that he would face huge traffic on the road forcing him to spend extra time traveling to the office. Although the raincoats are good, he would still get rain water reaching his clothes. With the same wet clothes he had to sit in his chair (in air conditioned environment) until that office day got over.
Scene 3 (Shortage of meeting rooms): The office where Surya worked was always short of conference rooms. The nature of operations included many visitors to the office. Additionally there were internal team meetings. Many employees had this problem but no one ever raised this issue to the concerned department. They knew that infrastructure related problems take long time to get resolved.
Scene 4 (Let's wait till peak hours are over): Mr. Sharma, a senior manager, preferred sitting till 7:30 – 8:00 pm in the office. The reason was not work. Reason was traffic. He said that he stayed about 35 km away from office and if he started at routine 6:00 pm it would take about 2.5 hours while if he started at 8:00 he could save at least one hour travel time. Because of Mr. Sharma his subordinates were also forced to stay in office beyond normal working hours.
This also resulted in extended office hours + extended running of office utilities (air conditioning, electricity, etc.).
Scene 5 (Vehicle Parking Space): Shankar got his first job in Connaught Place, New Delhi. His friend Surya got a job at Andheri East, Mumbai. Employers (of both Shankar and Surya) provided limited parking space (only to very senior officials). Due to this Shankar was forced to pay a heavy parking charge for his motorcycle.
Unfortunately, Surya had no such option. He parked his vehicle where several others parked (on public road). The parking was unauthorized and resulted into getting the vehicle toed at times. Sudhir's employer had provided parking space but it was very congested considering number of employees. He had to reach at least an hour early to ensure he got the parking space.
Scene 6 (Don't blame just children for not fully taking care of their parents): I heard this conversation in an elevator once.
Mr. A, “How is your mother?”
Mr. B, “Not very well”.
Mr. A, “But your cousin is there (at home town) to take care of her, isn’t he?”
Mr. B, “Yes but I feel like going to my hometown for some days”.
Mr. A (ignores and says), “Well, at least someone is there to take care of her. Don’t worry”.
I don’t know what happened next as my floor came and I had to get out, but it looked like Mr. A, who was probably the manager, was not interested in granting Mr. B leave from work or work from home.
Then, some people in the society start crying, "Mr./Mrs. X's children were not there at the hour of need". Not only this, the people start giving examples, "Amuk vyakti ka ladka to dedh lakh ki naukri cchod kar apni maa ke liye aa gaya", "Admi ki keemat hoti hai ji, paise ka kya hai", etc. They won't look at that time how their children are treating them.
Coincidentally my mother was also not well during that time and after hearing this conversation I sincerely thanked God for the support I had been getting (easy approvals for work from home and leaves). I was lucky that I was not Mr. B in this case.
I remember, at the time of her last rituals a gentleman said (and I don't blame him), "let us ask him how many days he is here for and accordingly we will plan". I said, "As long as it takes. There is no rush from my employer". And I am happy that I was able to perform everything that had to be done without worrying about return to office.
Scene 7 (Children in crèches): Sonia almost had tears in her eyes when her little daughter asked, “Ma, would you send me to the crèche again when your office opens”. How mature are children’s thoughts these days! Sonia looked at Mohan who was saying to himself, “Not only this my dear, we would also get you away from your grandparents once again and move again to the old life (in metro) with only two of us looking after you”.
Scene 8 (Freedom to smoke in designated area): For the past one and a half year Rita was working from home. While in “work from office” life she could freely smoke about 10-12 cigarettes per day, in this “work from home” environment she hesitated as her five year old son or other family members would be around most of the times. Her husband also noticed a reduced alcohol and cigarette consumption during “work from home” days.
Scene 9 (Groupism): Several times people tend to form Groups based on language, region, religion, etc. Region and language based groups are more common. Language based groups may be the worst as it prevents healthy interaction between employees. Due to less interaction they make fun of each other behind the backs or develop unnecessary differences in their minds.
Scene 10 (Increased burden on metro cities): Many employers limit themselves to selected cities (usually metros or cosmos) and selected areas in those particular cities. They have some good reasons for this however, this causes population misbalance or disturbance which in turn results in several issues in general with the lives of people.
For e.g. increased house rents, congested housing arrangements, increased traffic, packed public transport, increased pollution (noise, air, land, water, etc.), water availability problems, increased stress causing mental illness, etc.
Scene 11 (Some offices are very loud): In an office I saw several managers (from beginner levels to regional/zonal head levels) talking loudly on their phones. I never saw anyone realizing the noise pollution issue. They took it as a normal practice.
Additionally, there was no proper seating arrangement due to heavy recruitment drive going on. The situation was so worse that if you got up your chair for one minute you would not find it again. Even the regional head's dedicated space was occupied while he was not there. Seating issue was raised by many and new office space was made available however, the noise pollution continued to be there.
Scene 12 (It's just a security check): Mr. Gupta once told me that although he understood very well and agreed to the strict security guidelines his employer had, yet he never liked the security guards to check his bag every time he entered the gate of his office. There were several restrictions on what he could carry inside the office which he said was okay but now that he was working from home, he was free from all that.
Names mentioned anywhere in this article are imaginary.
लाभस्तेषां जयस्तेषां कुतस्तेषां पराजयः I येषामिन्दीवरश्यामो हृदयस्थो जनार्दनः II