In the last 6 months, most of the IT guys got the taste of my work environment, I say that because we all have been working from home lately. I actually prefer to work from home. It saves commute time. Helps me concentrate, without distractions. But it is easier for me to say because I am in the USA since 2012. and do not experience power cut and have fast internet. But this post is going to be about people back home in India who are working from home.
Knight Frank did research to find out their experience of working from home, and found out –
64% of respondents actually do not enjoy working from home due to a lack of internet speed.
50% lack proper IT hardware infrastructure.
42% face hurdles due to family.
31% face difficulty of not having dedicated work space.
28% face hurdle due to lack of desk etc.
Let me share what I have seen my teammates in India face. When this work from home started many people did not have a broadband connection at home. While most people have a mobile internet connection and based on data speed and location, you can imagine how reliable that is. And due to lockdown, I believe nobody could get unlimited broadband internet. As a result, most of them face issues. And one more thing is, many of these workforces are not in the home state and probably living in cities > hostels. People are living in PGs, which is another reason that they do not broadband connection.
While nobody asked the question, but I saw my teammates in Chennai or suburbs of Chennai, many days they missed meetings or work hours because they did not have power at home or wherever they were living.
The 50% of people who face a lack of IT infrastructure, I believe they are mainly missing access to a printer, mouse or maybe they do not have a proper fast laptop. Although I am guessing here. From my teammates, I hear complain about missing multiple screens. Like in many offices we work with 2 screens, which help us to keep multiple docs open and read.
42% who have family issues, this could be various problems. I will note down 1 that I saw my coworkers facing. We usually have called when it is evening back home in India, and the family would be watching TV and in the other room, the son would have to take the call. One can hear a crying baby, loud TV, etc in the background. It becomes a bit difficult to find a quiet place at the home. I hear some of this complaint here in the US too, because working mom or dads are working with kids, and they find it challenging to concentrate.
Lack of desk or furniture is another problem. I have this same problem. Without proper furniture, it is difficult to sit in one place for a stretch. I know one person, who I used to work with, did not like working from home because he did not have proper furniture. And like many who live in PGs do not have much, mostly a bed.
Now the question is, will companies let workers work from home or not? In the USA, especially on the east coast, where it snows, employees often work from home, if it is possible.
But in India, that problem is not there. And work from home is not a popular idea there. Managers do not believe employees, they often track their employees. When I watched Nanadan Nilekeni’s interviews, he was definitely not interested in letting employees work from home in the long run.
But I think, work from home can be made popular
Next time the Indian workforce will be prepared. If it was not COVID, the traffic would have made employers consider letting employees work from home. And at work, there is a socializing factor that actually kills time. Coffee breaks, smoking breaks, etc. are not really productive.PGs, hostels can arrange, high-speed internet, tables for the tenants. With a new power policy, I think the electric connection would be stable. And people will get ready with their own monitors, printers, mouse, etc. Here in the USA, many people who work from home a lot have their own set up at home. Although this is going to be expensive, so maybe juniors will not be able to it. The loud family is one problem that needs creative solutions. But, I do not think it will mean everyone will buy an apartment with a dedicated workplace. With prices so high, it seems to be impossible.
I remember after the last financial crisis when the Satyam scam unraveled, all Satyam employees joined the company I was working for absorbed the employees. But the employees took a pay cut up to 50%. So, you understand after this loss of jobs, the companies will take advantage of the employees for a while. I expect the salary to go down, as there will be more workers available in the pool than available jobs. I do not expect those employees to buy expensive apartments anytime soon.
So these issues like noisy household, unstable internet, and power will allow employers from allowing employees to work from home after the pandemic is over. And trust me in a decade or so, we will not even remember about this pandemic, I was not even familiar with the word “pandemic” before this COVID 19 hit us. But then in research, I found out Spanish flu was not the only one, there were 4 major pandemics in the last 100 years.
Saying that I believe work from home is the future. Taken out all these logistical issues, work from home can make employees more productive and reduce administrative and real estate costs for companies. The traffic anyway takes up a lot of time. Renting a home near the workplace costs a ton of money. So I have a feeling employees will like that too. But, it is not happening anytime soon, not without addressing the problems I mentioned.