BENGALURU : Over the past month or so, a debate has been raging on social media platforms and news portals, keeping the working classes in its grip -- WFH versus WFO, the pros and cons, and is it time to go back to WFO, now that the world is all vaxxed and waiting? Opinion polls are also being held: Are you ready to be desk- shackled, do you prefer a hybrid model, and so on. What can be gathered from this all-encompassing 360-degree discussion is that employees are none too happy to return to the workplace, once the centre of their universe.
Safely ensconced in their comfort zone for over a year now, they are loathe to return to life in a cubicle. The arguments offered are varied and well-buttressed: that life becomes one long rush with the commute, traffic, pollution, add to that a packed lunch and carping colleagues. No, sir! We are working just fine in remote, at home or even in a village with a mountain view, where birds chirp, kids are cared for, and food and beverages are at hand. You are welcome to your fancy office.
Then there are those who, if called in to office, say they are ready to quit and find a more flexible employer. Surprisingly, this is a global phenomenon. It seems that finally, the world has reached the much-touted work-life balance – that concept advocated by life coaches to those on the path of corporate burnout. All thanks to a machinating China, which managed to time the pandemic when the world had reached a certain digital maturity.
The next biggest argument is about savings - time and money - for both sides. Employer saves on overheads, like power and real estate, employee saves on cabs and the canteen. (Also makes do with comfy old clothes and hawaii chappal; none of those fancy pencil heels and lipstick palette). At the crux of all these arguments is a possessiveness about time – ‘my’ time or ‘yours’? Once, there was no dispute between employer and employee on this, but now there is also a creeping assertiveness that time is to be utilised as the employee deems fit.
The hybrid model - where time and space are flexible factors - is being held up almost like a peace offering. A compromise formula. Reams are being written on this model, it’s efficacy and future. And that big firms are accepting it as the new trend. As a late joinee to the new normal of WFH, I am still discovering the joys and horrors of this working model. In my window seat, working to the sound of whistling cookers, shouting kids, barking dogs, buzzing mosquitoes and a neighbour who fancies a Kishore Kumar soiree going well into the night, I am an unsure observer. It’s only a matter of who blinks first.