Work from home, a myth for Non-IT Companies – A webinar hosted by brand-comm
The webinar is the 3rd chapter of brand-comm’s property ‘brand-comm connect’
Bengaluru, June 19th: The concept of Work From Home (WFH) has been increasingly gaining popularity amongst organisations over the last few years. However, the CoViD-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of this process, causing the lines between work and home to blur. While WFH has been widely accepted by the IT sector, it is important to understand if non-IT companies can implement the same, and how best they can do it.
Chapter 3 of ‘brand-comm Connect’ in association with People Management, saw industry stalwarts debate and share their valuable insights on the topic “Work From Home – Myth For Non-IT Companies?”. Subramanyam S, CEO, Ascent HR, was in conversation with Krishna Kumar, VP & Head – Global Delivery, Sasken Technologies, Mansij Majumder, HR Head, Manipal Global Education Services (MaGE) and Bhamini Painter, Director- HR, Madison World.
Quite a few insights emerged from the discussion.
Productivity and Social Distancing
Majumdar said, “We have observed that employees are more productive and people are doing much better than what they were doing at the office. Having said that, there is an element of social interaction that is missed via WFH. There is a structure in an office and the social nature present there is something we learn how to bring about when people are working from home. Having said that, WFH today is a reality even for non-IT companies.”
For dealing with the issues emerging from this new way of working, technology has emerged as a panacea. Explaining how technology can be utilised to solve the lack of socialising, Kumar said, “Over the last few years, technology in the form of digital collaboration tools and connectivity tools have advanced significantly and this is facilitating remote working becoming a reality. Even non-IT companies in fields such as marketing and design can have their work done from home.”
WFH may not be for all
Bhamini explained, “The media is one such sector where WFH is difficult. The media largely depends on human interaction and will witness at most a hybrid way of working, where on-ground reporting can be coupled with the virtual.” Majumdar further cited the example of the education sector and stated that while virtual learning is possible, the impact of in-person face-to-face interactions with the educator is something that cannot be replicated. The manufacturing sector was identified as another sector where WFH is extremely difficult for employees directly involved in the process of manufacturing.
Those facilitating the new order are also proving to be a bump.
More Hurdles on the Way
HR management was identified as a challenging area and an important driver for managing the workforce. Managing the emotional quotient will play an important role in employee happiness. On-boarding new employees will also face some difficulties as the initiation processes and bonding activities will have to be implemented virtually. Mansij agreed with Krishna on the methods that can be adopted, that “We must look at more of an agile methodology of working, a daily call with the team on where the team is on goals, (and) where they need to be. Without such meetings, employees will get lost, especially the employees working from home for extended periods and those company employees who’ve never worked from home.”
To adapt to the new normal, there is a need for people to learn new things to fit better in the new workplace.
Documentation of learning material and accessibility to that material for the larger team is another area of concern. Mansij also brought the discussion around productivity and work-life balance during the work from home situation. He cited, “From a productivity front if you look at it especially while working in Bangalore. This is my observation for my company which may be different for others, productivity has gone up people don’t have to deal with the traffic in the morning and then start worrying from 4:00 p.m. on how to get back home. The number of hours people are putting in is a significant 9-10 hours of work time. But that is also a potential cause for concern because the balance between work and life is blurring.”
For the work to be smooth at home, all infrastructure too needs to be in place.
Speaking on the infrastructural challenges, Krishna explained it could be a deterrent to effectively working from home. He said, “People are spending more time, maybe because of power cuts and bad Internet connections. Internet connection in India is pretty bad. We stand somewhere between 138 – 131 among 179 countries. We are at the lower end of the speed and until our Internet infrastructure is not enhanced, we as a country will have challenges in terms of people working from home.”
This could also translate into a rise in costs.
Cost escalation due to working from home
The individual contribution of each employee will now come into the limelight. Every employee is now more accountable for their actions and cannot hide or delegate responsibility as easily as in the office. Krishna adduced, “Experienced people will be able to work for multiple companies, which is basically uberisation of the workforce. This will occur as an employee’s expertise can now be sold to five different companies and the companies won’t care because that cost is going to be lower. They now only have to spend on one-fifth of the time and cost as against a full-time employee. This trend is popular in the US and Europe, and due to the pandemic this will definitely catch on in India too.”
Bhamini viewed cost escalation as more of an optimisation effect and explained: “Your business process can be broken down into what is, what can be automated or what is methodical, and what is not. Then, accordingly, you can align your salary costs.” She added that there will be a few changes in the employees’ allowances as traditional allowance allotment such as transport and conveyance will no longer be applicable. Rather, companies can look at innovative allowances such as home maintenance allowance. Furthermore, changes in insurance policies will need to be implemented as policies like work accidents and health risks will no longer be applicable.
In conclusion, the discussion pointed to a work from home policy being accepted by a majority of non-IT companies with a hybrid model being the most economical and effective implementation.
brand-comm is a leading communications consultancy headquartered in Bangalore with operations in six cities (Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad) and a strong presence through affiliates in all Indian states. Founded in 1998 by Ramanujam Sridhar, a veteran in the advertising industry, their range of integrated services include comprehensive consultancy across Public Relations, Digital Marketing and Brand Advisory. Adjudged the Agency of The Year in 2010 by Public Relations Council of India (PRCI), Brand-Comm has consistently created value for clients in industries as diverse as Technology, Retail, Infrastructure, Fashion & Apparel, Education, Healthcare and FMCG.
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