The Future of Work – Changing Work Paradigms

The Future of Work – Changing Work Paradigms 

By Saurabh Karamchandani, LGT Impact Fellow at Porter, India

It was May 2021 and India was in the middle of a deadly second wave of the COVID
pandemic when I first got my fellowship at LGT confirmed. It was a major shift in my
life in those times. Since relocating in the middle of the pandemic wasn’t an option
due to closure and major lockdowns, I joined Porter as an LGT Fellow remotely.
Remote working prior to pandemic came with different challenges, The pre pandemic
rules of work from home were different. Most multinational companies would offer
work from home as an added work culture incentive to attract talent. Managers who
would offer work from home sometimes would be regarded as bosses who would
care about their employees.
Most companies used to advertise it as a part of progressive work culture. However,
as employees there was always a concern at the back of our heads. If somehow,
one would take more than a few work from home days, it would be considered as
slacking off. Put simply, frequently taking work from home would create some
negative impact on performance ratings.
However, the pandemic created a transformational shift in a number of ways in the
modern work culture across the world. From startups to major multinational
corporations, all companies started to value an employee’s choice to work from
home. My work life at Porter also was shaped under similar circumstances.


Experience at Porter
The Porter experience began with me joining offline in the middle of the pandemic.
The work on the Rewards and Loyalty program began with a study of market based
programs and studying the essentials of the firm’s own program. I got to learn and
interact with multiple colleagues over time who helped me immerse myself and
understand better the various business functions of the firm. This was the first time
however I had joined a company and started working fully remotely. That experience
in the last few months of joining and working remotely during the pandemic has
allowed me to make a few observations that I felt I should document. So that’s the
reason when the opportunity to write the blog piece came along, I decided to write
down my experience of these last six months of this amazing job and this fellowship.


Setting up the Routine
The routine. The first thing about learning to do work from home right is to set the
routine. Let me paint a picture with the right details. You need to set up your work
space right with all the essentials in one place. Your work laptop, notebooks, the
coffee mug that you use to take your first tea/coffee to get your day started along
with your separate work desk and an office chair. Your professional work space
needs its own environment since one’s professional and personal life always needs
that boundary. It helps you become flexible, get better focus and most importantly if
done right, get you more productive in the process all the while enjoying your work
and getting the most out of it. Ofcourse, there are challenges in this entire sequence
as well.


Let me highlight some of the pros and cons of this new condition of work that is likely
to be the norm in the future and the present working condition of the working world.


Pros of Work from Home
1) Flexibility: One of the best things about work from home is the flexibility that
comes with it. It allows one to manage time, space and work-life balance
better. You can work at your own desk, setup your work space at home, along
with being able to handle multitude of tasks without worrying about the hours
if one is a workaholic, that is.
2) Productivity: With the limited number of distractions around, allowing yourself
to set a time aside for work enables one to be more productive at times. This
is however a quite tricky practice and could easily turn into a challenging
situation. Work from home does allow, on one hand, to be able to use comfort
at home, to be able to work with less stress while at the same time if discipline
is an issue, it could also mess up one’s work attitude.
3) Financial position: If one is not living in a rented space, or feels constrained
with their financial position, work from home brings some relief to the
situation. With rising urban expenses and rented apartments culture among
the young urban Indians living in various metros, getting back to your home,
being with family allows one not only to have some quality time with loved
ones but also helps save crucial expenses that the big city experience brings
with it.


Cons of Work from Home
1) Doesn’t suit everyone: For those who believe work life balance requires a
physical separation of the spaces in order to ensure optimal performance at
both fronts, it may not bring the same stability as one might hope for. It
therefore requires a practical understanding of one’s own working style and
temperament.
2) Collaboration: While the skyrocketing adoption of online meeting platforms
such as zoom, google meet and microsoft teams has definitely transformed
the very way collaboration amongst teams is looked upon, it has also brought
a transformational shift in efficiency of communication amongst teams. A
direct communication amongst team members and meeting clients face to
face still has its necessities. For those new to this paradigm, this change may
take some time but it gets better as one gets used to it. However, this is still
one of the contentious changes. It comes with both its advantages and
disadvantages.
3) Burnout and Performance Management: Self accountability is an acquired
trait. While as an employee, the freedom of working at a distance from your
managers and bosses does have its appeal, it is also important to note that
indulging in your work, taking responsibility and actions in order to achieve
your goals takes one much further in professional life. Work from home poses
a challenge at times on this front. Allowing oneself to be the owner of your
own work and performance is the key to dealing with this conundrum.


Bringing it all together
At the forefront of it, halfway through this amazing work experience and this
fellowship, it has allowed me to evolve and understand how to be more
productive, manage time better, organise my environment, learn to use
technology optimally, and most important of all, immerse oneself in my work
more holistically. I am positive that the remaining experience of this chapter
only holds more great things to come. This fellowship is helping me shape into
a better individual, be more accountable to myself, develop ownership,
manage collaborations effectively and enhance performance through new
productivity management tools. I hope this blog piece allows all those a little
comfort and understanding of the challenges and opportunities of work from
home in this post pandemic world. The future of work has changed and
hopefully with it, we too would change for the better as will our organizations
and the nature of our jobs and responsibilities.

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