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Working from where?

The working-from-home versus working-at-office debate continues to gain momentum. Mukta Raut gives some perspectives.

india Updated: Sep 22, 2007 16:57 IST
Hindustan Times

There’s life and then there’s livelihood. With time, livelihood edges out everything else with its harrowing commutes,
punishing schedules, stress and a general dissatisfaction in relationships.

Today, many are trying to re-claim that slice of life by working from home. Depending on many factors, this option could be a panacea or a placebo .

A ‘my time-my pace’ dictum is usually a major reason. Flexibility is the area where the home option trumps over the office.

Controlling all aspects
Kanchan Shinde, a freelance instructional designer, loves the fact that she can actually plan her day now. There are no vagaries of last-minute conference calls or being stuck in traffic. Because she chooses the amount of work she can comfortably handle, there’s no stress over unrealistic deadlines.

She adds, “In office, I had to clock in nine hours.. it didn’t matter if I was busy or not. Once I’m through with my work, I can do my own thing now.” There’s also the matter of creative control.

Doing my own thing is the running theme here.

Hasan, another freelancing professional hit upon the idea of working from home to add variety to her portfolio. Earlier, she was restricted to the kinds of projects that were offered to her. Now she has the freedom to approach different clients and work on different kinds of assignments.

Satyajit Mohanti is an aspiring filmwriter. Having worked in different production houses, he feels that creative people perhaps work best in familiar surroundings such as their own homes. When he worked in an office, it wasn’t enough that he just understood his client. He also had to get along with his boss, the boss’s cronies and his colleagues. He says, “Maybe if I worked from home, I wouldn’t have to deal with this added hassle. I could just focus on the client and my job.”

Over all, working from home is the favoured choice for people who want less stress. But before one chucks the nine-to- five card, it would be good to remember that this option comes with its own set of glitches, discipline being the biggest.

Get disciplined
Working from home is not everyone’s cup of tea. Hasan observes that the need to procrastinate is really strong. You start the morning knowing fully well that you have the entire day to complete something without someone breathing down your neck. You could get tempted to read a book, have a snooze or an extended lunch.

Generating business could be a huge deterrent. Remember how we talked about working from home being so easy?Well, not so much, especially since generating business is your headache, not that of the company.

Hasan recalls how sporadic her freelance work was, initially. In fact, that’s a reason why many novices panic and take on more than they can chew.

“And then we stay up all night trying to meet those deadlines.. something that drove us to work from home in the first place,” she laughs.

The other side
So what are the future prospects like? And what if someone has had enough of working from home and decides to get back to the office grind? Interaction with colleagues can be an addictive thing. Is it possible to pick up from where you left off ?

Angana Sinha, an HR professional, believes that if you’ve opted to work from home, you may be given the job, but not the high-end responsibilities. It’s generally perceived that someone who has worked at his or her own rhythm may not be equipped to handle critical projects.

Ultimately this whole life-work seesaw comes down to ‘balance.’ It’s probably difficult to achieve that in the midst of punishing office schedules. But it’s equally easy to lose sight of, when you’re home-bound.

The key is to remember why one is doing something in the first place. And if the option doesn’t work, it’s only a matter of stepping out of the door, be it your home or office.

First Published: Sep 21, 2007 17:55 IST