Thursday, March 6, 2014

NEVER WORK FROM HOME - Why Flexible Working is not a Good Idea in India

Why Flexible Working is not a Good Idea in India


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.

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. 

I would leave for work every morning and return home in the evening. 

Sometimes I would be away for days, sailing on the high seas or 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 is more challenging and engages my internal resources much more than any work I did before.

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, 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 available to do all the “odd jobs” whereas everyone else is always very busy with their jobs and their career since they are seen 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 “part of ship”).

I told her that I had planned do some writing today and 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 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). 

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.

Sometimes I feel that I should rent an “office” somewhere to do my writing and go to “work” everyday from morning to night.


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, etc

So you have an unconditional choice

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.

Won’t the person who remains at home end up doing all the odd jobs?

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

Now let’s reverse the gender.

If you are a man, given that there are no mitigating factors 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 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 basically unemployed.

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.

Please comment and let us know your views. 

I am waiting to be proved wrong.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved. 

All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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This is an updated version of my above article written in June 2012

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