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Laptop on the kitchen slab: Encouraging work from home - An article by Unnati Narang

Laptop on the kitchen slab: Encouraging work from home - An article by Unnati Narang

Today, even when competition pressures and quarterly results expectations are soaring high, many organisations are encouraging work from home in such a way that productivity doesn't suffer.

Today, even when competition pressures and quarterly results expectations are soaring high, many organisations are encouraging work from home in such a way that productivity doesn't suffer. At Synopsys India, more than 98% women return to work after maternity because they are given flexi-time and work from home options. One of the women managers there, Sakshi Sinha (name changed) shares, "I chose to work two days from home and three days in the office after returning from my maternity leave. The company's support also helps me focus on my son's health and I can come back to work for limited hours and meet deliverables in flexible hours."

Throwing light at some of the benefits of such flexible options, Rekha Gade, Regional HR Manager & Practice Lead - Region Benefits, Synopsys India explains, "Having a work from home option reduces stress. The stress of commuting in bumper-to-bumper traffic at rush hour is counterproductive and can lead to disgruntled workers who are already exhausted and worn before they have even begun their day. Flexible options also remove the stresses and distractions of the workplace and allow working independently in their own preferred environment at their own pace. Professionals are often a lot happier and a lot more productive."

Women are an obvious beneficiary of most programmes. Intelligroup, for instance, has a forum for women called WIN (Women of Intelligroup Network), which brings women employees together to share their insights. Through this group, the company also helps women gain more control of their time and life by making the right choices. Tanuja Abburi, Director - HR, Intelligroup, says, "A working woman assumes many roles every single day. Things become easier if her organisation is empathetic and offers her flexibility, better control over her time, less commuting and hence, less stress. In such an environment, even if the woman is not coming to office every day, her dedication and commitment towards that organisation will be higher. It is important to offer enough flexibility to the associates to manage their own workload especially at managerial levels. We have formalised strategies and programs which are tailor-made to address the unique challenges women face in the workplace and this forms a core component for our acquisition and retention strategy also."

What do the men in the industry think? Rahul Kulkarni, Head HR, Kale Consultants says, "While I believe in providing work from home options to both male and female employees, we always encourage female employees as they have a lot of responsibilities to take care of on their personal front such as family etc. But even male employees can request us for it and we grant them the same facilities, when there are genuine reasons. The experience of employees who use this option has been great. While we were applying for an award for excellence in gender inclusivity, I personally spoke to many such employees who are working from home. They spoke about how they were able to manage their personal and professional life very well and this reflected in their well being."

Challenges

Most companies have impressive cases of women who have greatly benefitted from the work from home option. At Tesco HSC, for instance, women in their final months of pregnancy used used this option and their performance remained as good. Yet, things are not all rosy and there are sufficient challenges to cope with. Dayanand Allapur, HR Head, Tesco HSC, says, "Work from home can quickly derail if not managed properly and sensitively. Additionally, managing continued visibility, career growth and impact of work load if any on team members needs to be evaluated periodically to avoid negative outcomes. It is definitely a better option because it gives the flexibility to manage on the personal and professional front. Time saved during commuting can be utilized effectively. Yet, it may limit women in individual contributor roles and create a perception of not being a part of the team. There can be communication gaps, and hence engagement of employees working from home is a challenge itself."

Matching expectations and outcomes is critical in people oriented policies. The work from home programmes are a perfect example, which is paid heed to can be turned into an unbeaten opportunity for attracting and retaining talent, especially when it comes to the fairer sex.

Unnati Narang

Source: Times of India / Ascent

1 year ago

By HR Reporters

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