Work from home is over! What’s next?

WFH (work from home) seems to be a great and liberating idea, which would transform the way people work. But does it live up to all the hype?

WFH

Author

Utkarsh Kawatra is the Co-founder & CEO at myHQ.

Richard Branson once famously quipped that offices shall soon be a thing of the past! Seems truer now than ever with the growing freedom given by companies to their employees to work remotely. Suddenly everyone is gushing about what a great and liberating idea this is and how this would transform the way people work. Along with this freedom, also comes an interesting trend of work from home (WFH), something which most employees love to take. But does it live up to all the hype or as always the coin has two sides? Read more… as we evaluate the WFH trend over time.

The origins of WFH

In late 90s and early 2000s there were two interesting trends going around:

1. Focus on work / life balance: Since the 1990s, companies have come to recognize the benefits of allowing employees to maintain a good work/life balance. An hour a day commuting to work, then working in front of a computer screen all day before spending another hour getting back home — it all adds up. It reduces the time one spends with his/her family.

Ten hours of travel a week works out at over 1200 days’ worth of wakefulness over a 40-year working life.

2. Advancements in Software and Technology: Technology makes it easier to stay connected and exchange information and ideas in a split second from anywhere around the world.

“If you’ve got development centers all over the world, you’ve got a sales force out with the customers, the fact that tools like Skype [and] digital collaboration are letting people work better at a distance — that is a wonderful thing.”
— Bill Gates (Source)

So when one can do so much with just a computer and internet and get a better work life balance, why should companies take up the additional expense of running and maintaining offices? No point! And that is what some companies like Amazon and Convergys did- giving their employees a work from home option. Dell even has a 2020 Legacy Of Good strategy that that will allow half of their workforce to work remotely if they desire.

The sudden realization about WFH

As the trend of WFH grew, some interesting facts have come up recently. Due to WFH:

“If it’s just about you banging out emails or writing a report, sure, you can do that from home, but a lot of stuff we do at work today — teamwork, not individual work — that is the stuff that really measurably suffers.”
— Ben Waber, CEO of Sociometric Solutions, a firm that studies remote working

This led to a slew of debates and analysis on the topic and the results did not turn out in favor of the concept. Employees and corporates alike have realized that it isn’t such a grand design after all. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision, in 2003, to ban working from home in order to create a more collaborative and inventive environment was among the first steps by a large organization against this growing trend. More companies have followed since: Bank of America and Best Buy began to force people into going back to the office space lest they become disconnected.

With this, now begins the search for another alternative. Organizations have deterred from incorporating policies related to WFH, but are well aware of the need for a fundamental change in order to evolve and adapt in modern times. There is a need for a solution — but what?

Richard Branson proven wrong?

Hold your gun here! On one end are the old school offices far away from homes and on the other end- we have people working in their silos without any interaction. There is a need to come to a halfway point. How can the employees’ aspirations be reconciled with the organization’s goals without hampering productivity?

In come satellite offices, offices where employees work both outside the home and away from the conventional workplace in a location convenient to both the employees and employers. This satisfies the need for change while keeping the ethos of office spaces intact. Win-win for both the employer and the employee! Yes- but do they make economic sense? It’s not exactly easy to setup a 1,000 sqft office in each area.

Sustainable?

So how do companies avoid the premium price for setting up these 1-10 member satellite offices across the city? You simply do not set them up. You innovate! The thing that most people forget is that, there is enough real estate lying vacant, which will cost a fraction of the total cost and can be modified into work friendly spaces. These spaces can be anything from a cafe / restaurant with low day time occupancy to a bar / lounge which remains shut during the day or an office with more seats than required. Seems unlikely? We, at myHQ, are making this possible. We take up amazing spaces in your neighborhood, and convert them into rent free co-working spaces. Whether you are a freelancer or a start up or an enterprise with a sales team- if you are looking for a workspace, we provide you the perfect experience of office outside office without any rent.

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