Working from home, remote locations and home offices is getting more and more popular. Whether one is working with a company or is a start-up, technological advancements, time crunch and crowded urban areas are luring people to explore options of working from home offices or teleworking. But like they say, there are always two sides of a coin. If you want to work from home or remotely, then you need to make it work for you.
Mehika Uttam has been working from home for the past ten years. She is a Chartered Accountant and an avid blogger. Mehika has three children whom she drops to swimming coaching, dancing classes and football practice. She takes client calls and does accounting work during the eight hours when the kids are off to school. The beauty of working from home is she can decide when her time of work and time off work will be. Mimi Gosh, a Technical Enablement Manager at IBM, rushed her 12 year old daughter to the hospital when her daughter was bitten by a dog. After getting her the proper medical attention, she got her back home, tucked her into bed and went back to her laptop and finished her remaining work for the day. “All this was possible because I work from home” says Mimi as she recalls the trauma.
Just in case you are thinking that everyone who worked from home was a soap watching and cake baking woman, then there is a surprise for you. The survey, conducted by Flex+Strategy Group, found that 36 percent of men work remotely (from home or a coffee shop or someplace not considered their place of employment) compared to only 23 percent of women. Karthik Kumar, Head of Department of a leading IT company, does not plan for face time meetings at his office in Gurgaon after 330pm everyday. He needs to fetch his daughter from school and manage her classes in the evening. So he works from home and his schedule is managed in such a way that he can manage work and his daughter’s schedule since his wife works late evenings. The nature of work, and more importantly, the work place is changing. Many employees are just flocking from their bed to their desk in the next room.
Many organizations are becoming flexible and are providing location and time flexibility. More and more self employed people and entrepreneurs are working remotely. They have an “office” at home, or a co-owned space or work from the nearest coffee shop or bookstore providing Wi-Fi access. Such arrangements seem almost surreal in a world where you find yourself commuting from home to office in bumper to bumper traffic, or a few minutes of an extra wink in the morning may mean running behind schedules for the next few hours. In a lifestyle where we all are juggling elephants, an option of meeting deadlines and office responsibilities right from your home may mean a new lease of life. Due to this need, the work culture and work location emphasis is going through a metamorphosis.
Nandita Goel is a product developer at a multinational enterprise solutions company. She has been working from home for a year now, after moving to Mumbai. She says I got enough time to settle and explore the new city. Her organization gave her the option of working from home. She adds, “I got enough time to get acclimatized with Mumbai because I was not rushing to office from day one. I work from home, save myself from commuting and I feel I have more energy to manage my life.” With an energetic smile and an upbeat disposition, Nandita says, “working from home has taken away a huge stress factor from my life.” She says there are some indisputable benefits of working from home like speed of execution though she says she does miss in-person interactions. Nandita confides, “I remember times when a small conversation over lunch would be so enriching and guiding. A piece of advice given in a light mood goes a long way solving big problems. Sometimes little issues don’t need escalation when discussed and sorted among team mates outside the work station.”
The upsides of working from home are many.
No commuting: You may end up saving few valuable hours of travelling and the related fatigue after that, if you can eliminate travel time to work. “It takes me 30 seconds from bedroom to my office desk”, says Sujata Kabraji, a 44 year old wealth manager.
Flexible scheduling: Whether you like to work in the quite of the night or wee hours of the morning, you have the flexibility to choose your most productive hours to work. “I work till late or start my day early, depending on the task. It gives me immense freedom to schedule my day such that nothing on the to-do list remains undone”, says a technical engineer with a software company.
Balance family responsibilities: When you work from home, it becomes easy to lend a hand to a family member when you take a few minutes break from your chair. You can time your gaps such that you can run a few errands, pick up kids, or give medicine to an ill family member. “It is so much easier to take care of old parents or pick up your kids from school,” says Mimi Gosh.
Higher Productivity: With less chat time and shorter coffee breaks and no onlookers peeping into your machine, you have complete privacy and uninterrupted time. You can get into extensive research and finish off things faster without having the time restraints of logging off when office hours are over. When you are working from home, you can use your free time in reading up, updating yourself, unravelling a new software or learning a skill or two. This time is completely yours where you do not have to suffer small talk or office politics.
Financial Savings: You can expense out a small portion of your home office costs to reduce your tax outgo. You can save on fuel and travel costs. “The cost of running a business from home as a freelancer or an entrepreneur can be claimed as expenses deduction in the income tax section 30 to 37 (1)”, says CA Manish Jain. The expenses can be categorized as cost of running the business like rent, communications costs and as occupancy costs like advertising.
Various perceptions about working from home are changing, including the gender stereotypes and remuneration. While it is still a reality that women are usually the first to opt for such opportunities given their role as primary caregivers at home, more and more men are also joining the bandwagon in search of a better quality of life and to have equal homes.