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Old 25th May 2023, 12:03   #601
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Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

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Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
Availability is not just being present for pre-planned meetings. Life would have been so much simpler if all one had to do was attend some meetings, finish their task, and go home.
You're arguing semantics. Quoting a sample situation from a job to demonstrate a point doesn't mean that's all one thinks the job is.

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... So keep you and me out of the discussion...
Discussing actual experiences is far more beneficial than arguing hypotheticals, because enough what ifs would make you or I king of the world.

I mentioned my employment choice criteria (and those include sacrifices too, BTW), said you're free to make yours, and that mine & yours (both schedules and choices) probably are very different. You chose to go down the 'why do you thing you have a right to X?' tangent. I have neither intent nor ability to judge an anonymous internet poster. Please accept my apologies if you got that impression from something I wrote.

I probably mention there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution in virtually every post of mine on the subject, because as a professional with experience in the specific subject, I've seen and dealt with enough of it to know no two situations are the same.

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Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
Exactly, this is a huge part of the creative process. Folks who are unfamiliar with this are not appreciating the value it has.
We have to work around practical limitations. Brainstorming in a room is often the preferred method for a lot of us, but then the same 'leaders' who demand in-person 'collaboration' locally even if it's irrelevant, are the ones rejecting travel requests to meet actual collaborators located elsewhere because 'managing expenses' takes precedence, where suddenly 'world-class virtual collaboration technologies must be leveraged at every opportunity' becomes the mantra.

Those of us that don't control purse strings make do with the toolset we've got, even if it often isn't optimal.

Quote:
....Web meets don't provide the same dynamics of bunch of people arguing in the same room while looking at a white board.
100% agree. Writing things down, pen and paper if by myself and whiteboard if in a group, has been my go-to brainstorming method long before I started working for a living.

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Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
There are different kinds of creative processes, yours may not be affected. Product/Concept development is not the same as network design.
Spouse and a few friends work in a creative industry (film & media) and have global colleagues; they often ideate, create & develop content from scratch, stuff you & I pay good money to watch. There are some in-person sessions, but a solid chunk of their work too has to be done remotely because, you know, 'expenses'. Nothing to do with COVID-enforced remote work, this has been their operating model for a long time.

There are global people they can't afford to work with if they insisted on in-person interactions only, so arguably remote work leads to a better quality product for them, by dint of the collaborators they now have access to, which wouldn't happen if they only chose to work with those they can afford to be in a room with regularly.

Like I stress often, there's no one-size-fits-all solution. We make do with the toolsets we got, and focus on the quality of output/outcome as the defining measure.

----------
Back to IT industry, while we argue WFH vs. WFO, the terms themselves are being redefined. WFH is now remote-work-from-anywhere, and WFO is distributed, multi-location touchdown stations rather than concentrated, co-located dedicated spaces. I've had more than one people leader call and say 'this is not what I thought it meant when return-to-office was announced', because in certain contexts, WFA(nywhere) covers both WFH and WFO. A lot of the office space vacated is never coming back online, because 'expenses need to be managed'.

A lot of it is a moot argument, because vast segments of Indian IT industry are getting their lunch eaten in cost advantage, and not doing enough to replace it with value advantage. Cutting costs only goes so far.

Within the next few years, we would have a lot less use for the offices and the people inside them, if we don't evolve what we do and how we do it. We're fixating on the FO and FH, when we should be fixating on the W.

Last edited by Chetan_Rao : 25th May 2023 at 12:10.
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Old 25th May 2023, 15:24   #602
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Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

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Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
We can see two very different approaches to WFH in our small sample itself. And I don't have to tell you which approach you would prefer your colleagues/team to follow.

If everyone in the team starts following their own schedules and tries to fit in other activities during work hours, team collaboration will become difficult.
You are directly quoting me, So I would like to give you an explanation.

It all depends on Work culture of each firm. You are assessing my routines based on the work culture you are familiar with. My firm has a flexible time approach and doing these things at so called regular office hours is very normal.

In pre-covid era, when I first landed in Berlin, one of my manager left at 2:00PM and cam back by 3:30PM, after a hair cut. This was a shocker for me at the time. Having lunch for 2 hours, doing sun-bathing a going for jogging at office hours are fairly common in Berlin, not just in our firm. Also its a normal thing to work in short periods, like 7-10 & 12-15 & 20-22. Only thing here is to inform your colleagues about your availability or non-availability before hand.

Here in Berlin all shops except for restaurants are closed on Sundays and all holidays. And shops closes by 8:00PM on normal days. And hence people tend to do stuffs in "regular" office hours.

Also I work with people from different time zones regularly and being available for a discussion with US team means, working at 8:00Pm or with my Australian colleagues, I have to work at my 8:00AM.

Its all about finishing your tasks and commitments on time.
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Old 25th May 2023, 17:53   #603
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Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

End to work from home: Top tech CEOs warn employees to return to office, workers seem unwilling.

Elon Musk, Andy Jassy, Sundar Pichai, and other top tech CEOs asked employees to return to offices as the remote work era comes to an end. But are the workers willing to do so? Not really.

https://www.indiatoday.in/technology...128-2023-05-25
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Old 25th May 2023, 19:37   #604
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Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

My previous stint was completely WFH that lasted for 2 years. In the new place, we're following a hybrid model and it's been 3 months. Here are my observations:

1) WFO works when you have to do work that requires collaboration. Period. Far more effective.
2) WFH works beautifully when you have an individual task to be completed which requires minimum collaboration.
3) WFO is the best way to grow and maintain professional relationships. I'm more close to my colleagues here in 3 months than what could be achieved in 2 years at the other place. Chances for misunderstanding is far lower since you can see their faces and take steps accordingly. Very difficult in WFH since videos are mostly switched off.
4) Distractions at home and workplace are similar. Workplace coffee breaks or household chores eat up similar amount of time.
5) The biggest loss for WFO is the commute time. Great time to listen to podcasts or music.

If I really had to choose between either, I'll choose WFO since I'm a social person and I hated sitting at home alone. But hybrid is definitely the way to go since it's the best of both worlds.
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Old 25th May 2023, 19:41   #605
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Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

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Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
It's amusing just how biased the 'reporting' is.

Look at the first line itself, setting the tone for the article. The 'reporter' could easily say something positively factual like 'Not having to commute 2 hours in morning rush hour to make the 9.15 meeting became the norm', which anyone living in a metro can vouch for, but chooses to go with the broad-brush hypothetical 'Waking up at 0900 to make the 09.15 meeting...'.

Nothing wrong with getting extra sleep instead of losing your mind in traffic first thing in the morning, mind.

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Old 26th May 2023, 16:40   #606
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Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

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Originally Posted by am1m View Post
Just a suggestion (again!), there are going to be some IT firms and employees for whom remote work, works and can even be a competitive advantage. For some companies and employees, it's simply not going to be viable.

But for this thread, perhaps it would be useful to move on from debating whether the remote work concept overall is feasible or not, because that will never end with any conclusion (good for increased page views though!) to strategies that people have used to make it work, challenges that people are facing with the model and advice on those? Just a thought.
Thanks for bringing sanity back to the discussion (though your words were ignored very soon)

I agree that 'how to make WFH work' would be much more useful than arguing for or against it.

My own experience:
1. One of the largest software OEMs - job related to consulting & presales - formal working hours on paper.
Since there was a lot of field work & in-person customer meetings, there was never a compulsion to be in office everyday. However, most people turned up to collaborate & prepare. People with family commitments and distance were free to drop in when they could or if there was a customer engagement. In general, people were treated like responsible adults and I think the employees appreciated it as there were minimal disruptions or delays in delivery.

2. Covid, Lockdowns & Return to work

We had a strong virtual collaboration infra and so covid did not impact much. Company supported with emergency office equipment purchase as well as facility to take home chairs, monitors etc. Return to work was gradual and employees were asked to state their preferences (full-time in office, part-time in office or completely remote). I quit before offices reopened and visited the old employer only to return office assets.

3. Life as a Remote employee

Covid provided me an opportunity to join a company headquartered in a different city. They moved away from only hiring local to hiring across country when remote work started. Safe to say i would have never got this opportunity if traditional working models were being followed.

I like the flexibility of WFH in choosing my hours, lack of time wasted in commute. I don't like the inability to meet people in-person, know them better and the ease of getting tea/coffee anytime. In a management position you have to chart the team's path and continuously improve the operations. But there is a real danger of slipping into complacency and deliver just what is needed. This scares me a lot and i have to make conscious efforts to be competitive.

Things that help me stay on course:

1. Having a quiet corner at home
2. Clear expectation setting with family
3. Regular check-ins with reportees and bosses
4. Traveling once a month to meet colleagues in person
5. Extensive usage of Digital Well-being tools on Android & Windows
6. Meeting ex-colleagues once a fortnight to be aware of what's happening in the industry
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Old 26th May 2023, 17:12   #607
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Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

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Originally Posted by Totoro11 View Post
5. Extensive usage of Digital Well-being tools on Android & Windows
I've been hesitant to do this, because I'm not sure about taking a break from one screen only to look at another screen. For me my stress buster is to just go for a walk or something. But will be interested to know of any useful wellness tools that you've found helpful.

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Originally Posted by Totoro11 View Post
6. Meeting ex-colleagues once a fortnight to be aware of what's happening in the industry
This is a good idea! When I used to work from the office, I was hesitant to sign up for conferences because that would involve additional commute/travel in city traffic. But now I find that I'm open attending a few more conferences for my industry, even on personal time. But nothing stopping us from getting in touch with our contacts more regularly and finding out what they are up to. Thanks!
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Old 26th May 2023, 17:42   #608
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Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

Another brilliant discussion and a chance to read a holistic perspective.

Let me share my thoughts on WFH vs WFO models in IT / Software development world. I have spent roughly 25 years in software field working for services, in house and product development.

All of these companies have one commonality i.e. the key stakeholders are based outside of India. This is true for most of the IT industry in India.

Now, the interactions with these out-of-India stakeholders happen over mails and calls. The ideas are shared, decisions made or conveyed. This has been working flawlessly.

Need based WFH policy existed in my current organization has a WFH even before the pandemic. Despite that when lockdown started, most of the employees didn't had a proper work set up at home. The reasons were mainfold:
  • WFH was exception rather than a norm, so no one created that dedicated space
  • People didn't had sufficient space in their homes. With both spouses working and school going kids, this became a biggest challenge for many employees
We Indians are resilient and can adapt to any situation, so we did adapt. Employees managed to set up their work spaces at home and their productivity was same or more when working from office.

WFH gave flexibility in attending/scheduling meetings, especially when working across time zones. In my case, we work across 4 time zones.

So, all was hunky dory with WFH. Employee were happy to have their jobs intact and Employers were happy because of high productivity.

Then the lockdowns were removed and suddenly the WFH became an evil, a model that doesn't fit. Why?

Well, WFH is beneficial for employee, employer and environment but not for the overall economy (or it seems so):
  • Employee can have a well balanced life despite working across multiple time zones
  • Employer can save their cost on real estate, infra and related activities
  • Less traffic, less pollution, less fuel consumption
  • But for the overall economy:
    • Value of commercial and residential real estate will get affected if permanent WFH is adopted
    • Transport providers for IT companies will loss their business
    • Pantry/food service providers will get affected
    • Security, house keeping service providers will get affected
  • Those bosses needs special mention: who get kick by seeing their 'subjects' sitting outside their cabins
IMHO, forcing people in offices is just not about productivity or face-to-face meetings or idea-tions. There are more 'back door' reasons since many affected parties are influential lobbies in one way or another.
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Old 26th May 2023, 20:08   #609
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Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

Thank you for your post and putting forth your thoughts in this mature balanced way. A pleasure to read it even if I disagree with parts of it. This is in sharp contrast to the lynch mob tone several posts on this thread adopt if anyone offers a counter point of view {which some like @Theyota, @Arun Varma, @Jaguar, @am1m, @dragonfire, myself etc often do enrich the thread with their diverse thoughts*}. Some of the reactions are so strong it makes one wonder. I had started this thread hoping it would be a healthy discussion which it sometimes is when I see posts like yours.

All,

I'm using the posts of member @manchandap as a point of reference. The responses are not aimed at him.
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Originally Posted by manchandap View Post
Now, the interactions with these out-of-India stakeholders happen over mails and calls. The ideas are shared, decisions made or conveyed. This has been working flawlessly.
Having dealt with these customers at their senior most levels since c.mid-1990s I don't think they enjoy this or embrace this. If work could be done on-shore with less of us Asians they'd take that option. Only the extraordinary cost difference keeps them in. But yes remote working over 3 decades did clear the decks for WFH today by the new generation being familiar with the nuances of remote working.
Quote:
We Indians are resilient and can adapt to any situation, so we did adapt. Employees managed to set up their work spaces at home
Mentioned this a couple of times earlier so I'll risk repeating myself. Team BHP is full of well-off, well-paid, car owning, male IT professionals with a proper home, space within limits to house a work station, bandwidth, often someone to look after the housework, etc. Too many posts here assume this is universal or that they are the only set in the universe of employees. Reality is vast numbers live two or three to a room, work from their beds etc. Many are women for whom WFH is a blessing or a curse depending on the circumstances. They either wish WFH to be permanent or want WFH to be done away with depending on their circumstances at home - housework, mother-in-law, kids, nagging hubby etc.
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and their productivity was same or more when working from office.......
So, all was hunky dory with WFH. Employee were happy to have their jobs intact and Employers were happy because of high productivity.
This is a sanguine view of the employee. This does not reflect the view of the employer regardless of B.S. the likes of TCS tried putting out in 2020. On the whole productivity fell, security compromises sky rocketed, fraud by employees, your very own colleagues, would surprise you and employers tolerated WFH because of the global crises of the pandemic and not because it was a panacea of the way forward. Some like TCS did the industry a disfavour by newspaper headlines that were divorced from reality.

I will agree however that the real estate lobby did put pressure on the Govt; that some hybrid form of WFH is here to stay maybe 4/3 days one 1/2 day off; that the genie of WFH at least in IT Services cannot be put back into the bottle; that the commuting issue is real and both employer & employee (other than women) don't think this point through well enough in BOM, DEL, BLR, PNQ & HYD. For employees who yell now about commute time my only comment is - you knew of the commute before you took the job, you took it for whatever reason {despite usually a choice} so please own your decision.
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Originally Posted by avira_tk View Post
Why the selective sympathy? Did the clerk study 4 years to get a degree? Did he have to pay off an education loan? choices have consequences and yes, your circumstances drive your choices when you are trying to survive.
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Originally Posted by AltoLXI View Post
If a clerk can be compared to IT employee, then an IT employee can be compared to a CXO who gets an eye watering bonus. Will the CXO sleep on the shop floor to show some empathy with the poor IT employee?
My comparison with a poor clerk in Mumbai who also commutes was to highlight that he has very limited choices for job changes unlike an IT professional. That poor chap has to suffer his commute with few options. The IT professional within very broad limits can change quite easily and 35% of them do each year yet some chose to blame the employer and wail on social media. I thought my post was clear on that. Maybe it wasn't. But what is clear is that dignity of labour is missing here !!!!

Taking ownership of our circumstances gets forgotten in the joys of complaining on social media. When a couple of my nephews come up with this almost identical wailing and bitching my advice to them is -'damn it you are 30 years old so for God's sake learn before it is too late for you to own your circumstances, take action and get on with it instead of cribbing endlessly'.

*Thank you Gentlemen for helping this thread not sink into an echo chamber

Last edited by V.Narayan : 26th May 2023 at 20:16.
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Old 26th May 2023, 20:25   #610
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Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

I agree with @manchandap and disagree with @V.Narayan

My viewpoint could be wrong.

IT productivity has improved, manifold. All those security concerns have already been overcome with Data Loss Prevent tool scopes being improved.

My whole Team is global - across India,UK and US; and similarly my Client is again global - Europe, US, APAC, Australia.

We have been able to deliver deliverables which the Team earlier use to shide away from working upon, just because of this flexibility. Team understanding is better than before.

Additionally everyone has more sq. feet of space in terms of office desk which now is at Room level ( they no longer need to be a Delivery Partner to get a Cabin); with Good food and Good Quality of Life.
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Old 27th May 2023, 01:01   #611
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Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

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Originally Posted by chanz2015 View Post
You are directly quoting me, So I would like to give you an explanation.

It all depends on Work culture of each firm.

In pre-covid era, when I first landed in Berlin, one of my manager left at 2:00PM and cam back by 3:30PM, after a hair cut. This was a shocker for me at the time. Having lunch for 2 hours, doing sun-bathing a going for jogging at office hours are fairly common in Berlin, not just in our firm.

Its all about finishing your tasks and commitments on time.
Thanks for explaining your POV. As you said it is the culture in Berlin and probably the EU rather than the firm's culture. And that is why it works for you.

I have first-hand experience with only India and the US. And a regular 2-hour lunch break would not be considered normal in either of these places. Being in the IT industry, some might still pull this off once in a while but what about the majority?
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Old 27th May 2023, 09:45   #612
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Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

Phew...that's a loooong thread. Tried to catchup on it as much as I could. Read some really strong opinions and some very balanced ones.

WFH seems to be the future at least for those operating in the IT field. The pandemic has very empirically proved that work and productivity do not get affected whether one works from office or home or anywhere for that matter.

The only reason that I see WFO to be encouraged would be to keep the local economy afloat. Likes of small time tea vendors, food vendors, caterers, cab vendors etc have mightily struggled. For example in Bangalore, a lot of these vendors have set up shops right outside those monster tech parks and are dependent on working professionals for their daily bread.

Coming to the official mandate from companies, I call the bluff on that. For a fact I know one of the largest IT companies in the world with one of its delivery center in Bangalore has not purchased / rented enough seats for their employees. One has to go to a portal the week before going and get an approved place to sit allocated to them in the premises else entry is not allowed. As I understood from my friends. managers have made it into a KPI for their sub ordinates to get seat allocated and come to office.

Even in my company, if everybody decides to visit office on one day, about half the workforce would have to work standing up. Actually even before that, there would be a bloodbath for parking . So intelligently, they have distributed teams to come on separate days which I feel works. The hybrid gives the best of both worlds (collaboration and flexibility). But this limits the company's ability to hire talent residing in smaller cities. A lot of young folks in the company got hired post the pandemic with the promise of permanent WFH but were later asked to come to office under the hybrid model. Massive attrition was the immediate impact . A lot of companies sell WFH as their prime value proposition and I see people happy to even take a pay cut in lieu of WFH owing to its massive financial advantages.

Last edited by ShreyG : 27th May 2023 at 09:55.
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Old 27th May 2023, 10:31   #613
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Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

I favour hybrid model too, something like 80% WFH and 20% WFO. However, it still faces the commute issues, and rental issues in metros.

One way to solve this is to have satellite offices spread across 2-tier and 3-tier towns. The office/home rentals are much cheaper and will spread employment across the country, and not just limit it to metros with high cost of living. Everyone doesn't have to show up at the metro office, fighting metro traffic and paying metro rents. I say this from firsthand experience. Most of my team is around Udupi area, when I visit there and have our face-to-face meets, no one complains about traffic or high rentals.
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Old 27th May 2023, 10:55   #614
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Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

Quote:
Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post
...For employees who yell now about commute time my only comment is - you knew of the commute before you took the job, you took it for whatever reason {despite usually a choice} so please own your decision...

...My comparison with a poor clerk in Mumbai who also commutes was to highlight that he has very limited choices for job changes unlike an IT professional....
I'd like to expand on this aspect a bit, because I've seen you bring it up several times since you started this thread. I'd also like to try and draw an apples to apples comparison, so will pick a reasonably comparable sample individual to illustrate. I'll refrain from generalising, and use the Bangalore IT corridor along Outer Ring Road as a sample location, that a lot of this thread's participants can relate to.

There are plenty of 'clerical' staff in an IT office who'd fall in the same economic and social strata as the example you quoted, with similar trials, tribulations and limitations. These people took their jobs often in desperation, because it was their ticket out of unemployment or from jobs with significantly worse labor conditions.

Once in their jobs, they were never provided point to point air-conditioned transport like the well-paid techies in the swanky parts of the building, but were either given generic transport assistance (buses from common points across town) or at least subsidised public transport (bus passes). None of them are on a payscale where they can even dream of living anywhere that would count as nearby, however imaginatively you stretch the term, and couldn't afford their commutes unassisted.

Then cost-cutting came in, and as you rightly said, the well-off howled in protest and wailed on social media. The clerks down in the basement (figuratively, but quite often literally) howled too, but those howls don't reach the worthies' ears. Transport assistance, however meagre compared to other expenses of an IT office, was cut, and the clerks suddenly found themselves stretching their finances to cover personal transport costs, while fuel prices had nearly doubled in the last few years. Their pay, in general, hadn't kept up with rising prices.

Own your choices and move, you say. Some well-off techies howled but eventually swallowed the cost, 35% left to work elsewhere (in the city, country, world). The clerk evaluated his options, found most of his choices existed in the same 20-km stretch of road with similar conditions. Some took employment elsewhere down the road for marginally better pay, some upped and left for their villages to potential unemployment or back to terrible labor conditions, most swallowed the pain and soldiered on.

This is an employee who gets paid roughly the same absolute $$$ value as several years ago, while having benefits removed that he counted on to make the economics work. The commute now takes a significant chunk off his paycheck - 1000 rupees is a rounding amount for most of us on this thread, it's a budget-altering amount to him - and the infrastructure has gotten significantly worse, so the demand on his time and his body are significantly more just to get to work and back home, all for a woefully inadequate paycheck that hasn't kept up with economic realities, because nobody's offering him a 100% bump to switch.

The IT office isn't just the swanky floors full of howling well-paid prima donnas. There's an entire world down in the dark basement, with limited choices, prospects and no practical voice or say in the matter. They were never part of the WFH conversation, they were still brought in during COVID as essential staff or simply laid off as unnecessary expense.

All this while, the Business Unit head who signs off on the cost cuts, gets transported to office in a car that costs more than this clerk will make in a decade or more, and has probably never had to make the choice between petrol & lunch money in his life. When discussing what's 'best for business', the basement-dwellers don't even figure into the conversation at all, except for a brief 'that number in admin cost, yeah, knock that off by X%'.

The clerk knew what he was getting into, then the 'T&C are subject to change' part of their employment contract kicked in, and he had neither the means nor leverage to do anything about it, unlike the prima donnas sitting above terra firma.


TL;DR

A lot of people simply cannot fathom the enormous spectrum of conditions and choices, or simply put, humanity this simple sentence contains within itself.

Quote:
you knew of the commute before you took the job, you took it for whatever reason {despite usually a choice} so please own your decision...

Last edited by Chetan_Rao : 27th May 2023 at 11:01.
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Old 27th May 2023, 11:39   #615
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Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

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Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
...

One way to solve this is to have satellite offices spread across 2-tier and 3-tier towns...
This is beginning to happen. MP, a state most people in the past wouldn't associate with the IT industry at large, is seeing expansion from some MNC giants (was happening even pre-COVID but is accelerating now). Similar stories elsewhere.

Even within metros, return-to-office is often translating to 'go to your nearest office location', for organisations with distributed real estate.

WFO is not going to be the 'finally, my entire team will be physically together again!' situation a lot of people & people managers were assuming when the announcements started trickling in. Remote-in-another-office is part of WFO definition now. As I said in a previous post, the definitions are evolving.

Last edited by Chetan_Rao : 27th May 2023 at 11:42.
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