The Verdict On Work From Home Is Out

WFH has been widely accepted due to its perceived benefits. But is it a sustainable option? We spoke to people across the board to get their views on the matter

Vicky Jain, CEO, uKnowva, an HR automation software business

The current situation has reinstated our faith in the work-from-home (WFH) model that might once have seemed impossible. Organisations have been quick to seize the advantages of remote working by adding a virtual layer to their existing operating models. For those who see 100 per cent remote work as unsustainable, a hybrid model (both onsite and remote work) would more likely be the model of choice. However, to gain sustained competitive advantage, organisations need to understand how employees’ behaviours and needs have changed. Investments in physical infrastructure, digital technologies, and support will be essential. But, to benefit fully from the changes, companies need to find ways of supporting employees’ physical and mental health in the new remote and hybrid workplace.

Yashmi Pujara, CHRO, CACTUS, a technology accelerating firm

WFH is the future of work. It is a huge opportunity for employers, especially for those engaged in the information technology (IT) field. It can give employers access to a new talent pool, improve productivity and save on overheads, apart from all the benefits that people who work from home obtain. To realise these benefits, however, employers will also need to embrace a different mindset, adopt new tools and reinvent their culture. It is unlikely to happen organically.

Ujwal Ratra, COO, Astra Security, a cybersecurity solutions provider

Work from home has been adopted globally. Since this change happened almost overnight and at such a large scale, the supporting security infrastructure is also evolving. The good thing is that cybersecurity companies are naturally agile and adapting to the ever-changing threat landscape. This agility would lead to the creation of new and affordable solutions at scale. Necessity is the mother of all invention and if WFH is the necessity, there will be inventions that help sustain it.

Annil Chandel, CEO, Wurkr, a virtual office space platform

The ‘new normal’ fastened the inevitable digital transformation for most businesses. While in the short run we are adapting to WFH, I feel that this will transition to a demand for a work-from-anywhere (WFA) model. Technology is the only reliable partner in this transition, and businesses will demand WFA platforms that replicate the physical office, virtually. With the flexibility that WFA offers, businesses will not only save costs, but also have access to a larger talent pool. And to keep employees engaged, they need a WFA platform that keeps teams connected and brings colleagues together for ‘water cooler’ moments. Companies will also increase focus on employee well-being by using advanced technology to enhance the experience. I believe work-from-home is a temporary solution to curb the pandemic, but as businesses transform, work-from-anywhere is the future.

Nishat Afzal, content writer, Keka HR

At a time when WFH is more of a compulsion than an option, it seems to have blurred the line between our professional and personal life. Though certain jobs can sustain through remote working, many still require physical offices to function. Since offices went virtual due to the lockdown, we all have been working from home and simultaneously fulfilling personal commitments. Though interrupted meetings, phone calls, longer work hours, slower work pace due to the home environment are making things tough, the time saved in not having to commute, and flexible working hours are helping us too. While WFH could mean detachment from the company culture and a lack of productivity, my connection with my organisation and work-life balance have gotten better, and this urges me to give my best at work.

Rajat Johar, country head, Skootr, a premium managed office space provider

Covid-19 has changed the way we live, work and collaborate. Corporate culture and space utilisation have been altered through technology. WFH is a temporary solution and is unlikely to replace offices in the long term. A lack of ergonomic furniture at home, inadequate IT infrastructure, and data speed are a few key challenges for employees. With workplace hygiene and employees’ wellness taking centre stage, companies will experiment with flexible workplace options in the future. With innovative technology and employees’ safety as top priorities for corporates, we believe Grade A spaces will be most preferred by every growth-driven business in the coming years.

Tarunjeet Rattan, managing partner, Nucleus PR

WFH offers productivity and flexibility, but also mental stress. I do not believe that WFH alone is sustainable in the long run. As last year has shown us, the boundaries blur between work and home till none exist, because of which burnout and stress became real challenges. As a species, we need social interactions to thrive. While market forces will push many to adopt WFH, I recommend a hybrid model that allows us the safety of home along with social interaction. 

Dr HC Mario Schmidt, managing director, Lingel Windows and Doors Technologies Private Limited

Remote working is not an ideal situation for our industry. Be it manufacturing, procuring, sales, or interaction with customers – one needs to be present physically, especially in a B2C market. For a short span, one can surely work through the online medium, but in the long run, it is not pragmatic as customers want to feel and touch the product if they are making a premium purchase. For a lot of products, consumers don’t want to go the online way; the sales team has to explain the USP of the products, which helps the consumers make a decision. Therefore, it becomes very challenging for both the consumer and sales team; it affects the morale of the team as they are not able to close orders or achieve the targets assigned to them.

Dr Niranjan Hiranandani, national president, NAREDCO 

WFH is conducive for selected industries and domains; however, it does not benefit the real estate industry completely as our business thrives on socialising and networking with every concerned stakeholder. Customer site visits, possession handovers, interaction with property consultants and brokers at the site are imperative for the growth curve of business. Also, work from the office fosters team building, collaborative learning, personality development, and alignment with management’s vision, which are lagging in remote working conditions. Hence, a hybrid model with a satellite office will be the future.

Geetha Apathotharanan, AVP and head of engineering, Ugam – analytics and technology services firm

WFH has given us space and freedom to operate and fulfill our duties at a pace within the required timeline. There is no unnecessary stress of driving, parking, or reaching the destination on time. In a way, it has restored peace. However, there have been certain challenges like bringing a new employee to an organisation’s way of working or a busy environment at home restricting employees to focus on work. Once the situation improves, organisations should opt for a hybrid option that can offer the best of both worlds to us. Office space should be made available for specific activities like employee induction and critical meetings. Most importantly, we should be allowed to work from home/office based on our convenience.

Sumit Jain, associate VP, K2 Communications, PR agency

While the pandemic has made work from home the new normal, we definitely miss the office environment due to the benefits of communication, teamwork, and collaboration. Face-to-face interaction with colleagues and a highly interactive office environment can never be replaced by video conferencing. As we all navigate the great unknown, not all remote workers have access to the amenities they need to productively work from home as some factors may not be favourable at home for a productive workday. Isolation too can have an extremely negative impact on a person’s mental health. The real value of the WFH arrangement may not be impactful on a long-term basis as we will lose the basic capacity to think innovatively and produce great results.

Sowmya Shenoy, media relations professional

If you thrive on social interactions, feel inspired when working together in the same space, love collaborating with colleagues, then working from the office is the way to go. But Work from home has been challenging; ensuring a routine at home and at the same time giving your best to the work at hand, all while handling interruptions in the home environment. Productivity does get impacted and I am looking forward to working in an office again soon.

Nirav Choksi, co-founder & CEO, CredAble – a fintech firm

Covid-19 has allowed new realities to emerge not only for people but also for businesses and organisations. People started to work out of their personal homes and over a period of time grew more comfortable in revealing the truth about their respective ecosystems to their colleagues, peers, and supervisors at work. This led to its acceptance and acknowledgment and hence being more tolerant towards team members and their personal habitats. Businesses also had a similar transformation. The digital world allowed more accessibility and visibility beyond cities, states and also global boundaries. As an outcome we have experienced increased levels of productivity and exponential growth in outreach for our business. The work from home model has proved its credibility and is here to stay. However, from the long-term perspective the complete work from home option may not be a sustainable model.

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