Until 2019, executives and corporates shunned the idea of working from home (WFH). Their concern was that not working in an office-like environment would decrease productivity. However, the lockdowns proved that the time saved in commuting, fewer coffee breaks, and no water-cooler conversations actually shot up productivity.
The benefits of remote working are many — both for organisations and their employees. For employers, it reduced fixed costs, allowed globalised recruitment, and gave the option to hire from anywhere. For employees, WFH means working from the comfort of their place of choice, no commute time, and increased productivity.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the largest disruptions to work involved new technologies and growing trade links. The COVID-19 has, for the first time, elevated the importance of the physical dimension of work.
Remote work and virtual meetings are likely to continue, albeit less intensely than at the pandemic’s peak. Perhaps the most obvious impact of COVID-19 on the labor force is the dramatic increase in employees working remotely.
We took the opinions of IT industry experts on how they view WFH trend, its advantages and disadvantages, its future scope and how it is influencing the buying patterns of the IT products. What we understand is advantages of WFH far outweigh the disadvantages.
Mr Ketan Patel, Managing Director, HP India Market, shares, “HP’s new innovations are customer-focused and will create benchmarks across its PC, print and services portfolios. With organizations prioritizing their investments in technology to enable their employees with flexible, hybrid working environments, HP aims to offer them best experiences on the devices, performance and essential support,”
According to Mr. Sudhir Goel, CBO, Acer, “We are also honored to be leading the smart technology innovations built to improve the world of business. We are bringing path-breaking products with innovative technologies like advanced cooling solutions, ergonomic design technologies like Ezel hinge, MIL-Standard tough PCs, complete display solutions, cloud, IoT, etc. We have several patented technologies like our advanced thermal cooling solutions through our 4th Gen AeroBlade fans, BlueLightShield Technology, VisionCare technologies and TrueHarmony to name a few. This is one of our key differentiators with our competition and we always strive towards bringing in such innovations.”
Mr Shailendra Katyal, Executive Director at Lenovo India PC and Smart Devices Group, says “During this difficult time in India, we are working hard to ensure the safety of our employees, partners and customers. I am grateful that we have excellent leaders in place to bring our team together and offer this support.”
Ms. Seema Bhatnagar, Regional Business Director (South Asia), Nexstgo Company Limited, a part of VAIO Corporation, spinning from Sony’s PC business, expressed, “With the spread of pandemic, students pursuing online education and employees shifting to laptops from desktops to manage the workflow from their homes created a newfound demand for laptops in the market. With the new normal compelling most people to stay home, we anticipate the demand for laptops only to increase several-fold in the coming times. With this new consumer behaviour driving the market, we are expecting significant growth in 2021. And the trend is expected to continue for several years to come.”
Mr. Raghu Reddy, CBO, Mi India believes that in the current scenario organisations are investing in devices that are at affordable price points. He adds, “The domestic personal computer market in India registered a strong quarter (Oct-Dec 2020) with shipments growing 27% y-o-y to hit 2.9 million units, as per IDC, as e-learning, gaming and work from home (WFH) drove the demand. Notebook shipments witnessed 62.1% y-o-y to contribute more than three-fourths of the total PC shipments in Q4 2020. With laptops becoming a necessity, these days, we expect an increasing uptake in the segment. Looking at the current scenario, we anticipate organisations to invest in devices for their workforce for all kinds of usage at affordable price-points.”
According to Mr. Alok Ohrie, President and MD, Dell Technologies India, “The Year 2020 has been a year of remarkable transformative initiatives, accelerated by infrastructure and network topology preparedness, ensuring seamless transition to secure remote work environments. Dell Technologies has always been ready to meet the needs of its customers, and the numbers at the close of the year demonstrate the trust our customers repose in us. With a strong Q3 cash flow generation of $3 billion and non-GAAP revenue of $23.52 billion reflecting a 3% YoY increase, we have innovated and launched more than 22 products for enterprises and our customers, with continued high growth and profitability.”
Mr. Satish Kumar V, CEO at Everest IMS Technologies, comments, “It would be premature to state that we are in a ‘post-pandemic’ scenario. We are very much still within the clutches of the COVID 19 virus, with countries just getting started with their vaccination programs. Vaccination has just started for seniors and will soon be released to adults is what we glean. However, we opine that we are far from any form of normalcy and the remote working will be the norm for several more months to come and will continue in a reformed manner in future. There are a host of reasons that we take this stance. Foremost amongst them being that vaccination of the entire nation is going to take some time – even years perhaps with our population and complexities in distribution across different types of towns, villages, hamlets, etc. Without a proper deployment, assuming that things are fine is only going to make the situation worse. Some pockets in certain cities are full-fledged containment zones. During this time, we cannot let our guard down and allow the virus to proliferate. Another reason that we feel strong about this is that over the last year most employees have been able to adapt to this mode using various channels for communication and proper project management techniques for ensuring work continuity. They have absorbed these systems without breach of activity and are well set to continue in the same mode. Also, companies are actually seeing higher levels of productivity with unproductive travel time being taken out of the equation.”
Mr Vikas Bhonsle, CEO at Crayon Software Experts India, views, “Remote working has turned out to be a revolutionary change observed in the past year and it has led to the complete remodelling of work models in organizations. Earlier, working from home was hardly seen as a possibility and not even discussed by organizations. But since the lockdown, for many employers, remote working has turned out to be a more practical option, and there has been hardly any impact on their productivity. Many female professionals can now continue their jobs while they are with their families and especially young children and ailing elders at home. In case WFH is revoked, that might again lead to a challenge for some of these families. In my opinion, employers around the world are bestriding a bridge between yesterday, when most employees at most companies were physically present at work, and tomorrow, until a vaccine or effective treatment opens the possibility of safe return to the traditional workplace. Yet even when that happens, remote work will have earned a permanent place in the employment mix. The world is already preparing for a completely digital work environment and this is making remote working the next normal. Also, logistically speaking, more people working from home will improve traffic situations, and people can avoid long hours to travel and get more personal time to spend.”
According to Mr. Prashanth GJ, CEO at TechnoBind, “Remote working or WFH which has become the normal in the last year that we have seen is here to stay. I have personally talked to multiple people across board – at the management level to the employee level. There are varying feedbacks that I have encountered. But the net inference is that WFH is clearly something which will continue as a part of the mainstream office productivity scenario. While there may be gaps in terms of a quick resolution to a problem that a coding team encounters where if they were in office, it was easy to get the team into a conference room and brainstorm on the white board the different ideas and come up with a move-on solution very quickly, which is not so straightforward when people are working remotely. There are collaborative tools available today that facilitate this but the issue is that of softer aspects as everybody being available at that time, co-ordinating by calling everyone to get onto a tele-meeting, etc which is not so straightforward and hence the gaps. Then there is the issue of self-discipline of the employees – for example, in a sales organisation the employee needs to be connected with their customer-base, keep meeting them and talking to them to build that relationship which is the foundation of a sales motion – how does one ensure this keeps happening – there is no metric here unlike a coding team which tracks lines of codes delivered.
But there are so many other advantages of remote working – the most obvious is that of saving of the travel time in large cities like ours. It is just not about the time saved, but the physical and mental stress avoided by staying out of the noisy and dusty Indian roads – that itself can add significant percentage points in terms of increased productivity of employees. The employee is fresh when he starts at 9.30 AM than the haggled scene after he arrives at office navigating thru the traffic. Many have said that WFH makes them end up working more hours but from the organisation’s point of view it leads to increased productivity. Then there is the aspect of lowered office costs for the organisation – with a WFH or even a rostered approach to working from office, the real estate requirements can easily go down. I personally know companies which have given up floors of office space and moved people to a permanent WFH. The cost savings and hence increased profitability for the organisation is a big bonus.
The survey data illuminates the scale at which workers quickly began working from home, causing a potential shift in the nature of work that may very well outlast the pandemic.
In a Nutshell
Until 2019, no one thought about WFH or saw it as a beneficial alternative. But today organizations see many advantages of remote working are many — both for organisations and their employees. For employers, it reduced fixed costs, allowed globalised recruitment, and gave the option to hire from anywhere. Organizations see increased productivity via WFH contrary to their earlier apprehensions. For employees, WFH means working from the comfort of their place of choice, no commute time, and increased productivity. Most experts believe that WFH trend will continue in a reformed way even after the pandemic. We can now conclude that the WFH is a path-breaking trend that is set to continue.