Come to office to meet people - not to work

By | 7:00 AM Leave a Comment
Most offices today have this concept of a 9 to 5 job where you come in, sit in your cubicle and work till 5 pm. In India, especially IT, its more of a 10:30 to 9 job. We have a new way of working these days that has to change this concept. From the way society evolved, a man had a place to work - called an office and the woman took charge of the home. This is because work had to be done at a place with tools that the company alone could afford. Work and place were tied together. Today, that is not the case, especially in Information Technology.

We're faced with a new way of working. Work can be done on a computer at home, or even in a different country. What companies need to realize and accept is that you cannot tie quality of work to office. If you encourage and build systems in place to ensure that quality of work is measured independently, then you can encourage people to come to office only to meet with each other. But, to work they can, and most people will, prefer to work at their own premises. The company actually ends up saving a lot more this way.

I think this will have a very positive impact on how families plan their time. Families don't have to go to different places because they have to "earn" a living. It can be done from home. Your employees become more productive and their morale goes up. Parents spend more time with their kids. They get to organize their life better and have a much more balanced working hours that suits them. Of course this all assumes that the company has found an efficient way to measure the amount of work done and ensure that the employee isn't idle.

You have a lot of tools today that never existed 10 years ago to make this possible. The underlying broadband communication network is in place and accessible to everyone. On top of that remote access tools - like Web conferences, Tele conferences, Remote logins, etc, etc are there to have most of the work done offline. You have knowledge capturing and access systems like message boards, wikis, and so on. You have project management, bug tracking systems in place. So why are we still insisting that everyone comes to the same place to work.

Some companies are already embracing this approach to work. For instance almost all startups today work in this model. They dont invest heavily, or at all sometimes, on an office premises. They meet at a common location or hire out a location when they need. There's also another trend where you can rent our office space from an existing company for a certain period. Quite a good idea, if you want a small setup at a low cost.

That said, this is nothing really new to freelancers. They work alone and where and when they want. I have heard of people working out of cafes. So how does all this sound for the way of working in the future? You can stay at home and work. You get paid for what you do, not how long you do it. You can go with your friends or family wherever you want and plan your life as you want it. Of course you do go to office to meet and discuss, to brainstorm, to demo, to meet clients, to finalize things. But its planned and not a daily activity. The work happens where it should - in your head. I was totally delighted to see teams in some big companies - like Motorola, and
Cognizant adopt this model. Lets hope companies realize this is actually saving them money adopt this.