Home is where IT is!

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July 2nd, 2009 Bijoy Kumar Y

A new Sea Link, new flyovers, metro railway, mono rail… you name it, Mumbai is getting everything short of a 7:13 Zeppelin service (fast) from Borivali to Nariman Point. And the city is so dug-up during this monsoon that soon the time taken for the daily commute will be in double digits – at least for some days. But wait a minute – do we need all these bridges, flyovers, metro service, additional trains? Do all the people travelling from the suburbs to town need to travel? Is there anyone out there thinking of the beautiful possibility of 20-30 per cent of commuters staying at home and working – at least for three days a week?
Imagine firms that encourage  part of their workforce to log-on from home  (call them e-force if you want) and be supervised by seniors who are similarly working from home? Fast Net connectivity, cheap cellphones and video conferencing possibilities can be exercised to the fullest, right? Once or twice a week teams can meet up, play their social roles and even do real meetings where coffee and biscuits are served.
BMC can then reward those organisations with, say, 30 per cent employees working from home at any given point of time, with lower taxes. This move will certainly reduce traffic, number of deaths on railway tracks, wastage of fuel, electricity use and the need for never-ending digging for better ‘infrastructure’.
Sure, if you moot this idea at your office there will be strong resistance by those people who can be called ‘traditional’. The physical presence of boss and employees under one roof is not required any more – alright it cannot be abolished overnight, but a beginning can certainly be made. In a maximum city like Mumbai, there is no better reward to give employees than a few commute-free days.
I can talk about newspaper organisations because I have been working in one for 14-odd years. Honestly, there is no real need that I can see for reporters travelling to an office, holding meeting with seniors, scurrying out to meet contacts and attend press conferences and returning to office to file copies. Instead they can wake up in the morning, have an e-conference with the respective editors, talk to contacts over the phone, or if necessary, travel directly to meet people or attend conferences and file copy from wherever they are. Yes, a desk that can lay out pages needs to travel to an office every day – but that constitutes less than 20 per cent of a newspaper edition.
Today if you commute everyday for two hours to stare into a computer screen and then another two hours to reach home, it can be termed a criminal wastage of resources, time, energy and terrible under-utilisation of available technology.
Oh…its 6 PM? I got to leave…two hour commute in the rain, you see!

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12 Responses to “Home is where IT is!”

  1. GNDWIVEDI Says:

    This may be a good idea for the big corporates in metro/state capitals who’s entire workings are already on IT plateforms but other mid size corporates or SMEs are in numerous numbers involving the huge count of the workforce, and those can not implement the idea of working from home. Moreover while in physical presence we have much more beyond working which helps working i.e. peronal interface or interpersonal relations which integrate the working society. In today’s scenario the business development organisations do not get hearsay leads for their business development because their workforce keep engrossed on the screen and every prospective customer is not heading to approach through the IT means.

  2. bijoy Says:

    Thanks for all the feedback - may we all log in from home soon!

  3. Neha Pandey Says:

    Hi

    very beautiful blog post

  4. Disha Parekh Says:

    Dear Bijoy,

    I must say its an interesting article…Something different than what we usually read…keep writing something like this….

    And ofcourse…if people/organization bring intiatives like this..we will soon have a different way of working…

    All the Best….

    Thanks

    Disha (Rekha lanxess coll)

  5. Ashish Prasad Says:

    Initially I thought you were going to talk about Information Technology, “IT” being on the title of this blog; which is why I got excited to read more, as the title seemed an interesting one. Obviously, it was a bit misleading. Regardless, I am slightly disappointed to read the content of your blog. There is no flow in your writing whatsoever; it’s simply your brain dump put together in a rather haphazard manner :(

    Moreover, it’s an stale topic to be on the cover by a newspaper like BS. I would have expected some other thoughts on this new chapter in the life of Mubmai. For example, how does the new infrastructure affect ‘other’ parts of the society? I’ve read other blogs on this site, and a few are much better (someone wrote about IPL culture…comes to mind..simply that was a ‘good’ one).

    I would encourage the author of this blog to read blogs/columns from other US based newspapers like nytimes or wsj, and learn something from them. I know Indians (myself being a proud one as well, although have been living in US for a long time) have better writing skills, and can do much better than many. I just felt this one in particular didn’t ‘cut’ it.

    Having said that, it’s a great idea to work home, I’ve done it for many years. However, I feel team needs to meet often to have synergy, a good balance between office and home will certainly go a long way. :)

  6. guharajan Says:

    True, with all traffic hassles and high infrastructure/real estate cost, working from home is a viable option. This would be most suitable for person who are experienced and who do not require much mentoring/supervision.

    It would also help organisation to reduce the high infrastructure cost, is more people are made to work from home. For the individual, it saves time, energy and travel cost as well

  7. Shail Says:

    Simply “Brilliant” kya IDEA hai sirji

  8. Anumita Says:

    Hey Bijoy,

    Excellent writeup… really innovative ! i do know of some big MNCs who have 1 day assigned each week as “work from home day”. am sure its only a matter of time till it is implemented ‘coz really speaking even a “SEALINK” is proving useless and probably so would a monorail!

    All the best Bijoy!
    Hope to read more on this soon
    Anumita Tripathi (Rekha’s lanxess ex-coll)

  9. Ravi Says:

    Bijoy,

    Could’nt agree more with you. Have been doing it for over two years now and see no reason why it should not work for a larger part of our workforce. The IT industry has actually been more successful in implementing it, particularly to retain talented women who drop out to start a family. Allowing them to work from home ensures all that talent, training and experience does not go waste.

    But a few things need to change in a ‘traditional’ organisation’s mindset

    1. Measuring output instead of input
    2. Downgrading face value, that somehow comforting feeling of seeing your employees chained to their desks, furiously typing away on their keyboards (even if its on g-talk or twitter)
    3. Developing a measure of trust, what if the guy is sleeping his day off to get up in the night and work for just two hours and go back to sleep. Again, just bother about point 1 and this should not matter.
    4. “Hmmm, if that guy is working from home, not suffering a commute, snoozing in the afternoon and maybe even cuddling up to his wife, why the hell am I paying him a salary? Should’nt he be paying me for it?”
    5. Even managers can work from home. Enough productivity tools exist or can be developed to measure managerial work. So, one can measure how much time, for example, an editor took to clear x number of stories and what was the quality of that output.

    And Vishal is right in saying that this works better for people with experience. The newcomers should spend their initial years in an office; the learnings are invaluable and you get to know people, without which work does not happen.

    Here’s hoping things change in the next decade or so

  10. Vivek Says:

    This is the most proper solution. Though it would create its own challenge in form of infrastructure and work culture but things would surely get better if this idea is adopted even on a small scale.

  11. prem Says:

    Hello. Is Shyamal reading this?

  12. Vishal Dayal Says:

    Bijoy, a revolutionary spark to a thought process that, I believe, must sooner than later be the norm. The humongous ’savings’ are eye opening, and certainly very sensible. Having said that, this mode of work, which is actually in practice in some evolved oraganizations, is suitable for experienced and ‘loyal’ associates. Newbies need the actual atmosphere and mentoring of the seniors. (So seniors, ur job is not just ur own submissions, but also the teamwork and mentoring).

    This evolutionary growth and snsibility is what all organizations, private, public & govt. should be working on. More such sparks please !!

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