Variety

The numerous perils of working from home

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on May 15, 2020 Published on May 15, 2020

Limited shared connectivity, inadequate infrastructure and want of space are few of the challenges faced by employees working remotely

At a Webex meeting, a JLL India employee did not switch on his video, and when prodded, he replied that the call was being answered from his car. He took the call from a parked car to avoid possible distractions, as he stayed in a joint family in suburban Mumbai.

This story, narrated by JLL India CEO and Country Head Ramesh Nair, throws light on a major peril for ‘work from home’ (WFH) in space-starved cities such as Mumbai.

New challanges

“On a video call with a telecom company, the connection dropped. On restoring the connection, the first question from the other end was ‘Hope it is not our broadband that you use?’” Nair said, highlighting the biggest infrastructure hurdle for WFH.

Numerous videos of inadvertent “butting in” during office meetings, sometimes by pet animals, are also setting the Internet on fire.

“With relatively smaller houses in metros like Mumbai, both partners working from home and children having their online classes, all at the same time, WFH can be bit challenging for want of dedicated workspace and WiFi bandwidth at times,” Ajit Dashchoudhury, Executive Director at Tourism Finance Corporation of India Ltd (TFCI) told BusinessLine.

For many others, WFH has resulted in working hours increasing manifold.

“While travel time has reduced considerably, the quantum of time put in for work has increased. But I am not complaining as the output has also increased by at least three-fold,” Niranjan Hiranandani, managing director of Hiranandani Group said.

“The major hurdle is that the activity of a company or factory gets stuck. For instance, in construction we are not able to full run the business to the fullest extension. Since we have to get all our approvals and clearances from the government, that machinery is not moving,” Hiranandani, who is also the President of Assocham and Naredco, added.

Remote management

The hurdle of infrastructure and connectivity would be the quickest and easiest to solve, but then employees working from home would be facing a new set of stumbling blocks.

“The largest hurdle for making WFH work has been the ability of managers to learn and also unlearn. Employees’ expectations of trust, engagement and autonomy in the WFH mode, has to be complemented with the managerial upskilling to offer these,” Kamal Karanth, co-founder at specialist staffing company Xpheno, said.

“For managers who radiate their control and aura in person, remote management has been a huge challenge. Sustaining controls and charisma over teams, now demands a huge unlearning from the managers. And that’s easier said than done,” Karanth added.

WFH, now expected to be the new norm, comes with a different set of challenges, which the industry is slowly trying to overcome.

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Published on May 15, 2020
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