Working from Home: An Introduction

Working from home is a common approach in the most of the countries in Europe and in the West. In India, some companies allow people to work from home on a need basis. But this is not a very common scenario. One of the main reasons is that the facility and privilege is very often misused.

In many multinational companies, the work from home (WFH) option is a discretionary facility being offered to employees. It is a privilege, which is flexible according to the requirement; not a right and can be revoked at any time. An employee should understand that this is not an entitlement.  The decision if a person can work from home is usually left to the discretion of the manager. The employee is permitted to work from home after discussing the problem and having taken permission from the manager.

Most of the time, as long as the work gets done, the managers allow the team members to use the WFH privilege. It becomes an issue when an employee start demanding the WFH privilege as a facility provided by the organization or when most of the team members have problems with the WFH privilege given to one or more team members.                                                                                     

Most of the time working from the home work from home arrangement depends on the following factors:

  • The work
  • The requirement
  • The supervisor/manager
  • The employee

The Work

The work profile primarily decides if the person can work from home. Employees working as front desk executives or in the support teams who receive customer calls, administration personal, human resources, etc. cannot work from home as their work does not allow that type of flexibility. They need to be physically present at the office.

In other departments also, work from home can be allowed only after considering many factors like the type of the project, its complexity, the schedule pressure, and many other project and person related factors.

The Requirement

The decision whether an employee can work from home also depends on the need of the hour. Most importantly, the requirement of the project and the department, also considering the requirement of the employee.

Example: Jackson is responsible for implementing a new feature/functionality. He fractured his leg and is advised rest for 2 months. He is not in a position to travel to work for 2 months. Jackson had created the proposal for this functionality, got it approved, and has been working on it for a while. Unfortunately, the other members of the team are not skilled and do not have enough knowledge to handle this activity in his absence.

It is very important for the project, and after a lot of delebration, the management decided to give Jackson the support required to do this work from home. This facility is mutually beneficial, as the company is able to get the work done on time, without any delays of problems and Jackson does not have to take leave as he can work from home and complete the project that he had nourished and nurtured.

The Supervisor

If need arises, the supervisor or the manager might allow the employees to work from home so that work is completed on time. They might give the employee all the support in terms of the software, ability to connect to office from home, etc.

Example: Mary, working as a team leader in an organization was in a fix. Her son was sick and doctor recommended that he take complete rest for a week. Being a nuclear family, there is no one else to take care of the little boy. Since a couple of projects were near completion, there was a lot of work, and Mary was not a position to take leave. Apart from other things, she also had to review the work done by the team members, create status reports, and send them to the remote managers on a daily basis.

After considering Mary’s situation, and since Mary’s work is not depended on anyone else, she was allowed to work from home. Mary was not required to be physically present in the office to complete her work and the senior management knew about her professional approach towards work. This way, the work could be completed and she could also take care of her son.

The Employee

The employees will be allowed to avail the work from home facility depending on the following factors:

    • The need of the hour.
    • The attitude of the employee.
    • The skills and experience of the employee.
    • Productivity and performance.
    • The faith the manager has on the employee.
    • Supervision required to oversee their work.

Example: Rakesh requires a lot of help and supervision at work. The quality of work is not up to the mark and so someone has to review his work. He is not productive—spends a lot of time in coffee breaks, talking on the phone, or chatting with friends. He needs to be constantly reminded about the deadline.

 The team leader has to check his progress on a daily basis. The management will not feel comfortable allowing such an employee work from home because they are sure that work will not be completed on time. In an effort to complete it on time, the other team members will have to put in extra effort and time in communicating with him, keeping a tab of what is being done, and getting the work reviewed.

It is lot more easier for somebody else to take over the work and complete it.

It is upto the employees to use the WFH privilege with care, discretion, and professionally so that the privilege is not revoked.

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