Wednesday, December 3, 2014

WORKING FROM HOME – NOT A GOOD IDEA IF YOU LIVE IN INDIA

WORKING FROM HOME  NOT A GOOD IDEA IF YOU LIVE IN INDIA
Ramblings of a Retired Mind
By
VIKRAM KARVE


THE PERILS OF WORKING FROM HOME

Are you thinking of working from home?

Think twice.

It is my personal view that if you live in India, you should never work from home. 

Maybe things will change in the future, but the concept of working from home is not culturally compatible with the present-day Indian ethos

Going out of your home to an office or to a “workplace” is certainly more respectable than sitting at home and doing your work

In fact, if you “work” from home, most people think you are unemployed and wasting your time doing nothing.

The accepted paradigm is that you leave for work in the morning and return home in the evening after a hard day of toil. 

This is what I did for more than 33 years in the Navy. 

I would leave for work every morning and return home in the evening (when I was on a shore based assignment). 

On sea assignments, when I was posted on board ships, I would be away for days, sailing on the high seas.

Sometimes I would go away on outstation tours of duty. 

Everyone agreed that I worked very hard. 

It did not matter what I did at the workplace. 

What mattered was how many hours I was away from home “slogging” it out at work.

Now I “work” from home.

I will not tell you what I do, but one thing is sure – the work I do now (from home) is more challenging and engages my internal resources much more than any work I did before (from office).

And let me tell you that during my life I have done all kinds of work – engineering, operations, production, maintenance, research and development, design, project and human resource management, training and teaching assignments.

For all these jobs I had to go out of my house to a “workplace” and the work I did was appreciated.

Now I sit in my house and work.

But let me tell you that the remarkable amount of work I do sitting at home, I have never done before any “workplace” .

But there is no acknowledgement, no cognisance, no appreciation, no recognition of this.

In fact, the perception is that I am wasting my time sitting at home.

The more charitable think that I am pursuing a hobby.

No one takes me seriously. 

Everyone presumes that I am always free and so I am always available to do all the “odd jobs”.

On the other hand, everyone else is always very busy with their jobs and their careers since they are seen physically commuting and going everyday to their “workplace”.

For many years my wife was a homemaker while I went out to work.

Now, after my retirement from the Navy, my wife goes out to work and I “work” from home.

This morning my wife asked me to do something (a routine but time consuming chore  a job which was actually her responsibility or her “part of ship” as we say in the Navy).

I told her that I had planned do some writing today, and so could she please do the task.

She was furious: “I have timelines. You don’t have any timelines. So what if you dont write today? You can always write later. The heavens are not going to fall of you dont write for one day. Anyway you seem to be writing your novel for so many days. A few more days won't matter.”

If these are her views about creative writing, I wonder what she thinks of blogging.

I am sure she thinks that my writing and blogging is a total waste of time.

Maybe, my wife feels embarrassed (especially in front of her friends) that I don’t have a “job” to do or a “career” to pursue (like I did for 33 years when I worked in the Navy). 

In her eyes, Creative Writing and Blogging is certainly not “work” or a “job”.

At the most, she, like most people, think that writing and blogging are hobbies that I do for fun.

This evening, my wife made some disparaging comments about my sitting at home and doing no “work” while she was slogging away at her “workplace” and doing so much work.

So, I said to her: “Let us do one thing – I will “google” my name – and you can see what I am doing all these days – then we will “google” your name...

“Dont give me all that nonsense – just because you get more hits on “google” does not mean you doing more work,” she said unconvinced, and walked away.

Sometimes I feel that I should rent an “office” somewhere to do my writing and physically go away from my home to my “office” every day to “work” daily from morning to night.

Perhaps, only then will my wife and others accept that I do some “work” (though what I will be doing in my “office” will be exactly the same “work” that I am now doing at home).

In India, where you work counts more that what you actually do.

Working in an office is more prestigious that working from home.

So, working from home is not a good idea, if you live in India.


IS IT WISE FOR CAREER WOMEN TO WORK FROM HOME ?

Dear Reader, I have talked enough about myself. 

Now let me solicit your views.

Suppose you are a young career woman, maybe an IT Pro, a Techie, or maybe a Manager or an Executive or a professional working in the industry.

Suppose your employers are flexible and you have been given a choice of workplace – either you can come to office or you can work from home.

Also let us assume that there are no extenuating circumstances requiring you to work from home like pregnancy, bringing up children, familial commitments etc

So you have an unconditional choice of selecting your workplace.

You are free to work from office or, if you prefer, you can work from home.

To add some spice of the situation, imagine that you are living in a joint family with a mother-in-law breathing down your neck.

Now what will you prefer?

Will you like working from office or working from home?

Okay, forget the mother-in-law.

Let there be just your husband who goes out to work every day to his office.

Won’t you end up doing all the odd jobs, just because you remain at home?

Tell me, what do you prefer – home or office?


IS IT WISE FOR A MAN TO WORK FROM HOME ?

Now let’s reverse the gender.

If you are a man, given that there are no mitigating circumstances, and the choice is unconditional, which will you prefer – working from home or going to office?

Is working from home considered on par with working in an office?

I don’t think so – at least in present-day conservative patriarchal society in India.

Working from home is not considered on par with working in an office, at least in India.

If you work from home, people will think that you are unemployed and are living off your wife.

Or, at best, they will think that you are doing some part-time job to supplement your income or to pass time.

So, if you want to pursue your career seriously, never work from home.

In India, a man working from home has no respect in society.


WORKING FROM HOME  NOT A GOOD IDEA IF YOU LIVE IN INDIA

To sum up, in a nutshell:

In the present day socio-cultural ethos in India, working from home is not a good idea.

Maybe, things will change in future and working from home will be considered on par with working from an office.


Dear Reader: Please comment and let me know your views. 

I am waiting to be proved wrong.

VIKRAM KARVE
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