Don’t we just love throwbacks? Posting childhood pictures with throwback hashtags, celebrating throwback days, and so on. What happened on Tuesday, the 29th of August was the same thing – an uncomfortable throwback to the 26th of July, 2005. August 29, 2017 was the day when umbrellas became redundant, public transportation hung up, and a considerable chunk of Mumbai tried to plan the journey from workplace to home. I was one of them.
The fateful day
Wading through water logged roads and trying desperately to find some vehicle to get to my destination got me thinking - don’t such extreme weather changes warrant an option for flexible working, or to work from home? I mean look at my brother, seated comfortably on his bed while doing what software engineers do and dealing with his client calls. And here I was, exhausted, helpless, drenched, frustrated, and worried that the pending work will rear its ugly head later in the week. Turns out, I wasn’t the only one dealing with these thoughts.
“I was at work that day, but the weather turned crazy and I had to leave early”, shares Supriya Rajpurkar, a PR professional. However, not many were lucky. Neha Jain (name withheld on request), a software professional, was stuck in office dealing with deadline after deadline, coupled with panic calls that poured from all directions. After all, this had become breaking news everywhere, with warnings and directives being issued for the safety of citizens.
So, why were some still stuck at their office while others were on roads trying to make it home? Was it just because the Rain Gods showered their blessings in abundance? Or maybe, just maybe, the Indian working culture does not promote working from home?
The Indian case for flexible working
“Though my work doesn’t demand me to be in office all the time, there’s no work from home concept at my workplace. I don’t wish to have this option every day, but there are times when I do wish to telecommute. And Tuesday was one of those days”, adds Rajpurkar.
Echoing the same, Nikita Gour, Customer Relationship Manager, said, “It was just like any other day at the office. The only difference is that I decided against going home that day and stayed back. Though the company had made arrangements to drop off employees who stayed close by, I wasn’t one of them. They made provisions for employees like me at guesthouses and apartments for the night, so that wasn’t really an issue. When it comes to working from home when the weather worsens, the nature of my work doesn’t really permit that as we don’t have access to any tools or client data if we do opt for such flexibility. So, yes, I don’t really expect this option given my field.”
What the research says…
Though a considerably large number of employees prefer need-based flexible working arrangement, companies are still hesitant to take the plunge. A study carried out by TimesJobs revealed that 90% of employees want the option to work from home and nearly 60% of the organizations surveyed do not have a formal work from home policy. As if these facts were not troubling enough, the study also discovered 75% of employers are not even comfortable with this idea! The reasons for the discomfort are varied –
- 70% believe that productivity gets affected when employees work from home
- 80% had no tracking mechanisms to manage workforce who opt for this option
- 30% face resistance from the top management in implementing such strategy
Of present and future
Flexible working is the future – an answer to travel disruptions, unpredictable weather changes, and to boost employee productivity. Although there are companies that prefer having their employees in office come hail or storm, there are establishments at the other end of the spectrum that have embraced flexi-working.
“I was lucky to have been given the option to work from home last Tuesday. When people were stuck in traffic and on water-logged roads for hours on end, I could focus on my work with ease and meet my targets. I’m glad to be associated with a company that recognizes the importance of flexibility”, stated Priyanka Chauhan, a media correspondent.
Not just firms, but the boom in digital technology has also given rise to platforms that offer credible home based jobs for women who cannot clock in 9 hours at office but are equally passionate to build their career.
Take the flexible step with eWomen
eWomen is one such platform which recognizes the importance of providing flexible working opportunities to women and connects them with the right companies. Women also get the chance to test themselves, and grow their skills. This grants them the flexibility to work at their convenience, and yet advance in their professional field.
Remote working is not just another buzzword. This is something I realized that day. It’s time companies in India pay attention to this clarion call, irrespective of the weather or any other disruption.
What’s your 29/8 story? I would love to hear your tale!