There is nothing surprising about new fads being popularized for working professionals. The latest being encouraged actively is working from home. Companies are encouraging, motivating and even offering other incentives to their employees to work from their homes rather than coming to office. It benefits both the employees and the employers, in terms of time saved on commuting, office space, electricity and other sundry expenses. There can be nothing objectionable to such a fantastic scheme when viewed purely from economic or financial angles. But going to office is much more than mere economics or finance- it is a part of daily routine, life style, even living.
Going to office makes the lazy stir out of the comforts of the bed, brush their teeth, shave, take a shower, act according to a defined time table, eat breakfast, exercise, walk, talk, open up, unburden, stand and stare, observe, breathe fresh air, mix with the society (at least passively), look at faces or people or animals or birds or the rising sun or moon or stars. There is so much in the world to see and feel that the robot of a human person that a professional employee wedded to her/his lap top & mobiles or other gizmos is going to miss. In the long run such a person is likely to forget even days or dates unless her organizer reminds her! Watching TV, working on the lap top, communicating on the mobile, eating packaged foods or drinking-all in the bed is bound to lead to health problems sooner than later. It is going to cripple the body’s natural tendency to move about easily, increasing waistline, stiffening muscles, loneliness resulting in isolation and emotional deficit and ultimate depression. Too much of isolation can even end up in melancholia. Workaholics are known to be suffering from sleep deficit and sleep or eating disorders. If you have nowhere to go, why would you dress up or care to dress well?
The best thing is to have healthy excuses to go out of home. But the policy of forcing employees to stay at home and work from home, deprives them of the best opportunity to do so. After all, one can’t visit the market every day or go to church or friends like going to office! The whole excitement of enjoying a well earned holiday is lost by working from home.
It is going to have several other repercussions in due course. I am reminded of what an old colleague of mine told me just after one week of retirement from active government service. He said that his wife was not happy at his sitting at home all the time. This is what his wife told him: “I have not married you to have lunch with you everyday”. Even though it was no harsh reprimand from a wife, this wifely humour successfully conveyed the message. It was that after having become used to living for over 40 years without the company of the husband during day, (especially when it was sought and desired by her in the early part of their married life), it was becoming odd to do that after his retirement. Work from home is definitely going to disturb the marriage prospects and married life. I have no doubt in my mind that marriages work better when the husband and wife ration their company drastically by engaging in other productive activities during the better part of the day!
Companies are going to lose their best employees in the short run itself if they keep them at their homes. Productivity is higher when workers function in a structured hierarchy at a work place. While targets might be achieved by employees working from home, productivity, innovation and efficiency of the same employee goes up several times in a warm & inspiring workplace. A simple hello, a warm smile, a warm handshake, even a hot cup of coffee can prove to be simply energizing. A good office is a real catalyst of valuable productivity & innovative ideas. Companies must revisit this programme of home office in their own interest. For a healthy, happy and enthusiastic pool of employees, working in office is many times better than working from home, excepting those who are unable to attend office for valid reasons but wish to continue to work.
Hope companies will not penalize their workers by shutting them out of office!