A shot in the arm has catapulted remote working even before it was set to become the norm anyway. It can be said that the speed with which remote working became the norm was accelerated ahead by the force of mandatory social distancing and shelter-in-place guidelines. The greater fact that supported the remote work movement is that efficiency and magnitude of work were not negatively impacted. Quite the converse. After investing the initial cost of setting up a virtual workspace, the costs of maintaining an office are further defrayed for an employer in the “work from anywhere” model.
The remote working or working from home model is about to take over the world of work in a big way. Primed up for this movement, the Indian government recognized gig and platform workers, contract and part-time workers, and is in the final stage of devising a Code on Social Security, 2020. This bill already has obtained the President’s Assent, and when passed, ensures that platform-based workers are recognized as a legitimate category of workers. At the same time, employers who hire contract workers are also recognized and can plan for gratuity, provident fund, and leave encashment cost overheads. Such provisions bring the flexible workplace into the mainstream while scoring high on employee engagement, motivation, and the overall employee experience working for a brand.
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Around the world, the telecommuting model of working had been in a fair way to become acceptable for most IT, IT-enabled services, and consulting jobs. This was before the pandemic produced a medical emergency and large gatherings in indoor spaces became a threat to health and wellness. Remote working means that workers from any geographical region, sometimes even from outside the country could be hired on the basis of a simple contract. The only factors that mattered were the skills they brought to the job and the cost-benefit trade-off such an agreement brought about.
This approach to filling job roles is a highly beneficial one to employers because it is outcome-focused. The number of hours logged may be one of the many ways to judge whether a job applicant or consultant worker is fulfilling expectations. But the go-to metric on which all eyes rest would be the number of projects completed, how well they were done, and whether they produced the expected results in terms of revenue and business continuity. These factors contribute, in fact drive, the performance management planning and evaluation.
It is not long before the future of work takes these metrics into account for talent acquisition as well. Given that the talent pool is now thrown wide open and not restricted to the metropolitan cities and tier-II cities, a lot of young, aspiring workers join the fray as eligible contenders. This trend of remote working also has the happy outcome of getting more women who were home-bound for various reasons to join the flexible workspace through remote jobs. It is a direct win for the diversity, equality, and inclusion aspects of India’s workforce.
The future-of-work flavor is already tangible in organizations today. It may be slow in coming to manufacturing, mining, construction, dock workers, and plantation labour. These workers still rely on staggered work shifts and rest days. But the change to remote working models has veritably begun for white-collar workers and the corporate workforce and is likely to keep on.
- Remote working to boost hybrid workforce, gig economy in 2021: Study | Financial Express | January 2021
- India: The Social Security Code, 2020 | Ashima Obhan and Akanksha Dua | Mondaq.com | October 2020
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