Kavita, a marketing professional, has to wake up at 6 in the morning every day, to reach office on time. It takes her two hours, a bus and a train to reach her workplace in Churchgate from her house in Thane. Even though travelling consumes four hours of her daily life, Kavita has limited options. Neither can she leave her job nor can she reduce the travel time. In a welcome move, Kavita’s employer is mulling a change in policy to allow employees to work from home on at least two days a week. Kavita’s employer may allow just two days, but many other companies allow employees to work permanently from home.
The trend of working from home is catching up fast in India, but it has its advantages and drawbacks.
Benefits of work from home
- No commute: With traffic and congestion in most Indian cities, travelling to work can be a nightmare. Along with consuming a considerable amount of time, commuting to work can also be exhausting. According to a study by workplace provider Regus, workers worldwide spend 5% of their income on commuting. One of the biggest advantages of work from home is that it eliminates the commute to the workplace, saving employee’s time, money and energy.
- Flexibility: Working from home provides the flexibility to choose the work timings. Even though the work has to be delivered before a certain deadline, the employee can choose to work during his/her most productive time in the day. There are no limitations on eating or attire, which can be instrumental in improving the productivity of the employee.
- Fewer distractions: Just like your co-workers, there are family members in the house who can be a distraction while working. But workplaces have a larger number of people and you cannot control their activities. On the contrary, family members can be asked to co-operate, and adjust with your work timings.
- Better communication: Most of the modern job profiles require you to be an excellent communicator. Work from home requires you to communicate through different mediums such as texting, video calling and emailing. Initially, a communication-heavy work profile may be cumbersome for some people, but working from home improves your communication skills and makes you more marketable.
- Improved work-life balance: Work from home is not freelancing where you have longer deadlines. There are fixed hours of work while working from home, but one can still have better control over his/her day. Work from home can lead to an improved work-life balance, which many professionals struggle with.
While work from home has a host of benefits, it is not all rosy and there are a set of drawbacks too.
- Requires self-discipline: The header may seem obvious as all work requires self-discipline. But it is human nature to associate a place or an environment with certain tasks. Since the home is often associated with family time and relaxation, it requires a lot of self-discipline to maintain productivity levels while working from home.
- No distinction between work and personal life: The line between work and personal life gets blurred in the case of work from home. Many people find it harder to manage time while working from home and eventually the work starts spilling into their personal time, which can lead to overworking.
- It can be lonely: When you work from an office, you have many people working around you. Even introverts are able to strike friendships and form relationships in an office environment. Work from home can be lonely as you do not have anyone from the same professional background to talk to. While working from home, you can also miss out on important discussions as there can be a lot of impromptu brainstorming sessions in the office.
Work from home is a mixed bag for employers, as it reduces the overhead costs, but can lead to longer deadlines.