Everything comes a full circle. A generation earlier – mark of manhood was in the head of the family going everyday for work. If the working place is a bank or a government office that much better. The leather bag in a man’s hand was the proof that he was working hard. This all changed when the era of working from home dawned on us. With corporate encouraging this habit in an attempt to lower their overhead costs and to increase effectiveness of employees, this became a new trend. Many employees however today do feel, working from home is far from a dream. From a fixed work hour it has shifted to a 24*7 demanding routine.
Today we seem to have come a complete circle. Proof for this can be seen in Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer’s announcement http://bit.ly/15gjHVQ
Though there has been a heavy debate over the reasons behind this announcement, the key official reason that is being given is working in isolation is inhibiting creative capability of workforce. Yahoo fears working alone is not effective as it does not permit building of close knit teams. Something that has been considered a fundamental success factor in highly innovative environments.
We are too early in this arc of the circle to pass any judgement. There is still a lot of arguments for and against the practice of working from home. Here is my take:
The whole idea of working in itself is a social activity. One creates a little network around themselves. This becomes an alternate circle of comfort. With the advent of internet and technology reducing the distance, it became easier for us to expand the boundaries of our workspace to our living room. What started as a sensitive allowance for special needs of employees, has now become an alternative work culture.
Working from office is a good way to meet others, stay updated, create a social network. In today’s gadget driven lifestyle it would be nice if people can get together to interact with each other face to face. The issues of travel time, overheads and infrastructure challenges are those that are real. But these need to be navigated intelligently not avoided. While I welcome working from home as a great HR practice, making it a norm and way of work life is not a healthy habit for either the employees or the company!
More thoughts on this as the debate continues…