The case for Working Remotely

Photo by Mark Solarski on Unsplash

Couple of days ago a former colleague called up. A decade ago, he used to be the tech lead on a project where I was the Project Manager. Now both of us are in different organizations. When the call came in I was at home and working.

To explain in detail I work from home. Everyone in my organization works remotely. For e.g. we have a development team of hard-core Android developers spread all across the globe. One of the developer is based out of Chile, another guy is in Germany, a few work out of France and a sizable number are spread across the four corners of India. We communicate through telegram app and emails. Like any normal development team, we also have our agile sprints, development milestones, timelines and deadlines. We do not speak to each other on phones mainly because each one of us is in a different time zone. So while my friend from Chile says ‘Good Morning’, I am preparing for a ‘Good evening’ while our tester from New Zealand is fast asleep!!! Also may be our accents would be so heavy that we would wish we had sub-titles on our smartphones. Yet our productivity has never been impacted by the fact that we are not geographically co-located.

Now let me return to the call I had received from my friend.
He was mentioning about his daily commute to office. It took him about an hour one way! That too, if he was on his motorbike. His office is in Mumbai and he lived on the other side of the city. This travel time is under the best of travel conditions. If he dares to travel by public transport, the time it would take would be about two hours one way! Squeezing in an out of Mumbai buses and local trains is an art that takes some effort to master. I felt guilty working from the comfort of my house, as I listened to him complain.

Not many organization allow employees to work from home. Even if employees have good internet connectivity and dependable power supply, the final say in the matter is always with the organization. Off course there are some sectors in which there is no scope for remote working. For e.g. if you are working in a factory that assembles cars, you cannot take the parts home and build it in the privacy of your bedroom!

The IT industry folks are usually the ones who can afford to work remotely. There also a lot depends on the type of project and the role you perform. Having said that working remotely is not for everyone.

I remember a member of my team a lady who had to travel a lot everyday. By the time she would reach office she would be an absolute wreak. Once I asked her if she would like to apply for work from home. Her answer offered another side to this argument.

“ If I stay at home,” she said, “I have to face my mother-in-law! I would rather face the problems on a local train than be at home with her!” Case closed.

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