It’s what you do, not where you do it

A Monday morning, roads filled with commuters en route to their offices, to get started on a fresh week of work. horns blaring all around, everybody is in about to get ahead in the absolute pandemonium that traffic has transcended to.

Country, language and people might vary but this scene is something that every city witnesses — particularly the ones that are fuelled by a silicon-based economy. Sitting in a cab or bus or whatever means of transport you’re using, this might be the instance where for one fleeting moment you start thinking that Thanos had a point after all.

And after all this, you get to the office, supposedly the only place where work can happen. Perhaps you’re on time but chances are that you’re anywhere between five minutes to an hour late to work, and the first thing you do — meet your manager and break into the tale of what kept you from getting to work on time. Once that ritual is done, you get to your workstation/cubicle and get on with logging into the cloud where the projects and data reside before getting on with your work.

Yes, cloud. As a result of the tech giants having people working on projects around the clock(your counterparts on the other side of the globe taking over from the point you when you log out for the day) and the smaller players choosing to set up their systems and products/platforms on remote clouds rather than physical, in-house facilities, teh idea of workplace is now drifting apart from the four walls that surround ‘the office’. In 8 cases off 10, the need to be within your physical office to get working on your project is non-existent. Thanks in a great deal also to the advancements in wired as well as wireless internet connectivity, virtually anywhere can be your place of work, so long as you have your PC and in some cases, your smartphone at hand.

And yet, we are still living in a world where physical presence office is just shy of compulsory. Yes, we have come to some distance from the point where the 9–6 workday used to be the norm but that is hardly anything beyond a saving grace given that you still have to regularly attend office. For the average employee who spends 8–10 hours at his designat3d terminal/cubicle, sending a leave application or requesting permission to work from home for a day, let alone a week, is still something that is borderline terrifying. For either case, they’re expected to have a ‘genuine’ reason to explain and justify the request.

But why?

Managers/the top brass opine that employees may not work as efficiently as they do from home as they do at office. Ironically though, these are the same people who ask the employees to log on get some critical/urgent work done when they might be at home sipping hot tea after a hectic day of work or laying back during a well-earned weekend. But that trust they place on the employees to deliver the work remotely goes out the window when a request for working from home is made.

The concern expressed by the ones in charge isn't completely pointless. Yes, there are people who’d prefer to sit back and relax instead of working while people are expecting them to deliver. But that isn’t unlike anything else, with two sides to it. It’s been proven time and again that people more often than not tend to be more productive when they’re mentally at ease and in a peaceful environment — home, for most people.

Remote work policy isn’t just something that's practical on paper alone. Take Gitlab for instance. Gitlab is a web-based DevOps tool that offers solutions for requirements such as but not limited to source control and CI/CD. According to their website,

Gitlab is an all-remote company with team members located in more than 60 countries around the world.

The remote policy ensures that geography never stands in the way when the thought of inducting members into their team comes up. Preferring formal communication channels over informal ones and offering the team members flexible working hours, they bank on results of work over the number of hours put into it. And they are making it work, big-time at that. Valued at $2.75bn, the company plans to go public in 2020. If they pull it off successfully, Gitlab will be the first all-remote company to go public.

True, not all companies can pull off something like the Gitlab-model. But there always are things that can be learnt from them. Tell your employees that the company’s focus is not having a lot of people in the office for long hours but getting the work done. Tell them that the next time they request for a work-from-home, they don’t have to fuss with a lengthy explanation, but just a word that they’ll deliver on the task that’s assigned to them.

Maybe it isn’t time yet to say bid goodbye to offices once and for all. But it is a great idea to accept that being in office for those set hours, day-in/day-out is not the priority so long as work is done. Remote work is the thing of the future and it’s about time that you get a move on and at least keep with that bandwagon if you don’t want to jump all in just yet.

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Software Developer | Blogger | Part-time Nerd

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