I believe second wave has confirmed that work from home jobs are required beyond 2022-23 and you would agree to large part of this article with me. Till March 2021 we have witnessed that People are with their families, in their home town, remote technology has matured, we have higher internet Speed, work is being done online, the real estate cost for companies has gone down substantially and the productivity level of most of the IT organizations have gone up and by April 2021 we are witnessing that people are dying, almost all the employees are affected, work is actually not happening in the right way and we are unable to think of an end to this ordeal with Virus. Can’t we think of a permanent work from home solution? At least work from hometown? This article is not a reaction towards Pandemic, I am expressing my concern over some of the fundamental thought process of our govt, industry and we as Humans.
Humanity & Pandemics: Humanity has experienced several Local to big multinational Pandemics in past like Great Plague of London in 1665, H1N1 appeared in 1918 as Spanish Flu, Asian Flu 1957 some Indian example were cases of Plague & Cholera where several villages evacuated because of large no of deaths. Time and again these small creatures (Viruses) have taught us that we need to respect nature and live our life according to it instead of building artificial one. If you recall situation in Spain and Italy, people were just dying in silos and entire medical infrastructure was shaken just imagine that situation, also think about lockdown time and how people could not be allowed to see their dear ones who died of Covid, I recall stocking 2-3 months of ration in my home so that we don’t step out, I saw so many laborer stranded in Bangalore without food, money and were just praying that they should be allowed to go. One family of labor travelled 2300 km ~1300 miles Bare Foot just to reach their village in UP from Bangalore.
This could have been avoided or minimized if we had given importance to city planning, demographic distribution, herd immunity, health care and emergency response system with planned communication system.
Jam Packed Metro Cities:
When I think of it I imagine these images Mumbai Local Trains and transport system helping our youth reaching new destination for job. Why we are we unable to stop these people migrate to larger cities? Why people can’t get work in their home town? If you seriously look at infrastructure of these cities its crumbling, you pay more rent, higher price for food items, higher taxes and big prize for your health & education. Do you recall news from Surat Gujrat where workers of textile industries were demonstrating violently on roads and asking for good food and facilities during lockdown?
Do you know what was the issue? These labourers were working in 3 shifts and were given limited room to stay, which means a single bed in a room was shared by 3 people, when lockdown started all three were in the same room and fighting for bed and food, if normal days they could have managed but lockdown mandated everyone to stay indoors and this problem appeared.
There is no improvement in Covid risk but Workers are invited back to these cities and offered higher pay, flight tickets and shelter. I think People movement need to be regulated and decentralization of power is needed, I say why not build smart villages where people get everything they need?
Pressure on natural resources:
Almost every 10 mtr distance you have a bore well in Bangalore and the way earth is rigged we might end up at earth’s core asking for more water, Current drilling is at 1700 ft level, mind you at 900ft Arsenic which is a poison get mixed in water. We are bound to use RO purifiers which already have lot of conspiracy theories. In many cities there is no compulsion of rain water harvesting in India, In Mumbai alone water is pumped from ponds, dams and rivers in villages & towns near Mumbai. Mumbaikar’s given preference over villagers where these ponds exists, it’s a govt loot nothing else. Bangalore once used to have around 50k small & big lakes and now around 3k are left due fast urbanization and growing hosing demand.
Another natural resource is forest & farm lands in these big cities these are getting converted into plane land pocket for colonisers leaving sudden flooding and frequent change in weather condition. This rapid urbanisation is not helping us at all.
Pollution is big challenge:
When large no of people live in these cities obliviously they will consume and this will create entire ecosystem of new products to waste management issues. We have seen and experienced enough about land fillings in Mumbai, Bangalore and other places isn’t it? Alone in Bangalore there are several apartments colonies filled with big brands like Sobha, Godrej, Prestige but just within 500 metre they have got dump yard which stinks badly. Other devils are air pollution, plastic waste, industrial waste and water pollution the great example is Bellandur lake.
We definitely need law abiding citizens, sensitive industry to support our living conditions best examples is Indore city which has managed the pollution level and now in big leap to clean its nearby rivers. Nature in general gives alarm but understanding them and making our life safer with mother earth is our duty, think about it.
Culture Shock Exists:
We have been hearing about melting pot, big apple and cosmo cultures etc but what I have noticed that it doesn’t help you as a family, far from roots missing on customs & traditions neither you practice properly nor you are able to pass on to your kids. It becomes very difficult for parents to impart right cultural values and if at all they do it’s like going up against current. Take for example: most of the people in North India celebrate Holi festival and gets a leave on that day but in South India there is no holiday everyone works on that day. If you are from North then you will have to find someone like minded to celebrate with you, but if you are in your hometown where festival is properly celebrated you won’t feel culture shock. Another example is of Language; we speak Hindi at home and would like my daughter to learn & know formal Hindi in school but in Bangalore from Hindi does not exists in curriculum from 5th std onwards, now please suggest how do I teach formal Hindi language to my daughter? What If I get transferred to Ahmedabad will I have to make my daughter learn Gujrati then? You would be thinking why I am living in Bangalore when there are so much problems, point is; these are just illustrations through which I am highlighting some of the less talked issues.
Best practices will flow from Metro to small cities:
The best example here is Mr Sridhar Vembu from Zoho books
who now operates out of a paternal village and along with doing well in IT world helping Village children getting educated by himself. This is true in the sense when people like who work in cities like Bangalore can bring in lot of change when operate out of home town, this is evident in every walks of life shopping, paying bills, discussing with neighbours or friends and emphasising about best practices that we see in big cities. Why not? If you have lived in Paris or Manchester and you have not seen or observed anything which you cant share as a learning then what’s the value add.
Local Economy will get stem:
There is another aspect which deals about economy, when you work out of home town you end up spending locally, investing locally which impacts the local economy in a great way. Honestly speaking the amount of money we spend in cities like Bangalore & Mumbai is not worth the issues we get in return. I would rather buy a big house in my home town over a tiny, costly house in Mumbai isn’t it?
Political mix can be avoided:
In many cities or even countries like US which is made up of migrant population gets a good mix of migrants every year thus getting a great mix of people from around the world. In recent times it was noticed that many parts of Mumbai is dominated by migrants and they decide the leader. We have this illegal Bangladeshis all over the country, in Kashmir alone native Kashmiri Pandits were removed and were not given chance to participate in local politics. I would say why do we need such a mix, let local people decide and run their city the way they want while certain percentage of people will always be migrating and working in these cities it’s the local govt and their policies which should regulate movement of people in country. Well I would be happy to be at my home town and raising my voice for issues that matters to me and to my dear ones.
Work From Home jobs are now a norm:
In many jobs across platforms it is now mandatory to mention where they want employees to work, is it office or anywhere. Onsite or Offsite, more and more companies are becoming flexible in terms of providing this facility to employees.
Better Satisfaction of work life balance:
Be it 9.5 hours or 14 hours in day but the satisfaction we get is that we are with family, in case of exigency we can quickly attend and in free time have a good social life as well. Think about Bangalore Traffic, Think of Stinking dump yard of Mumbai, think about 10month advance deposit for house rent, think about native culture and most importantly think about growing awareness in small towns, you won’t really miss metro cities.
So many people have realized that it’s important to see their parents as well because they are also getting older day by day. Many have rebuilt their home, helped their family in setting up work/home properly, took care of ailing family members and what not. I would say why make employee travel daily to office when he can work from home, secondly why be in metro when he can produce same result being in small home town?
While IT industry is developing new solutions everyday it has already acknowledged the power of Gig Economy which doesn’t demand anyone to be in same room to codevelop a solution, it can be done from anywhere in the world. I firmly believe that now is the time to free all the limits specially for people who can manage remotely and let them work from anywhere in the world. I am sure this will eventually help nation move forward.