Global Editions

Is working in your pyjamas more productive?

by Manahil Zafar

Teleworking growing in Pakistan.

A Chinese travel website Ctrip presented an interesting study last year checking the balance between working from home and actually coming into the office.

A Stanford professor Nick Bloom was the lead author of the study which focused on researching how management practices affect performance. Under the study half of the employees were given the chance to work from home, while the others stayed enclosed in the office structure.

And then began the surveys on performance, data was collected, compiled and the study revealed that the employees coming into work were a lot less happy than the ones staying home and working. The employees working from home were both, more productive and less likely to quit.

Still the tech world debates on the pros and cons on working from home. However we seem to be choosing to stay in more than commuting on a daily basis.

A couple of years back, Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer had banned working from home. She had told Business Insider that people may be more productive when they were alone, but they were more collaborative and innovate when they worked together. “Some of the best ideas come from pulling two different ideas together” she was reported as saying. And of course, she makes a valid point. But businesses are also interested in saving on space, furniture and the overhead costs of running an office.

A report in Forbes went as far to call Marissa’s policy an ‘epic fail’. The report mentions an insurance company, Aetna, which boosted the proportion of its workforce that telecommutes from 9 percent to 47 percent helping the company cut its real estate costs by USD 78 million during 2005 to 2012.

The number of people working from home in the UK reached 4.2 million in 2014, according to the country’s Office for National Statistics.

Interestingly enough, remote workers say that they often feel more engaged with peers and supervisors than workers working in a tradition office environment. There are number of options that help workers stay connected that makes a real difference.

It is like a global phenomenon now tapping into countries like Pakistan. Here we can reach into a market of workers that we didn’t know existed before, creating a workforce that is unique in its own way.

Options range from freelance editing, working for a publishing house. There is a rise in telemarketing with thousands of calls being places and customer service calls on the rise as well. Many sales representatives choose to work from home. Software developers working from home and are able to write code with other engineers doing the same, using web services online to collaborate effectively.

Talking to the help desk people at Zimedar Sheri for the Punjab government, they too agreed that working from home would be more effective, and the space they used housing the division that takes the calls could be used in a better way.

Today there’s a plethora of websites offering options for stay-at-home mothers to work from home, online, in a set up they are more comfortable in and allowing them to make money and take care of domestic needs. Heidi Parsont is president and CEO of Torchlight, she understands that a company should respect you as an employee and the need to be a parent, if you are one because it’s not only that employees that benefit, in the long run its the company that does too.

Websites like Apna Work provide online courses in WordPress, SEO and webmaster etc., in Urdu language for as cheap as PKR 6,000 to develop a new tech workforce. The internet is allowing for better employment and making sure that workers know that making money from home is an option. People can now earn up to PKR 20, 000 a month or even more working online. In a country like Pakistan where it is still frowned upon in parts of the country when a female leaves the house to go work, working from home can be a productive way out.

Similarly websites like IncomePk provide data entry jobs excursively for people who want to work at home. The websites are in Urdu, making sure that everyone who is looking for employment is reached.

Pakistan is a country still finding its way in the galloping race of the tech industry. The practices such as manual entry systems are moving towards computerised networks and different data entry companies have their employees work from home.

Chief Operations Officer at Tintash, Jazib Zahir agrees that working from home can have its benefits. But he feels whereas it may not save cost on the company, it does save costs on the employee. “It doesn’t seem to matter, as long as the goals set are being reached.”

“Being productive from home, depends on the individual too,” he adds.

Co- Founder of MangoBaaz, Pakistan’s own version of BuzzFeed, Ali Ahsan says his company has 12 part-time employees working from home everyday. If they didn’t have that option, they would be doubling on already limited office space. “A long as you are getting your work done, it doesn’t matter where you are,” says Ali.


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