I was recently talking with one of our members about the HR business. He was talking about how recruitment is going to don a different avatar. In a work from home world, recruitment will be truly global and not defined by boundaries. A lot of their clients were closing on resources in India and hiring for various positions.
It got me thinking.
Culture plays such an important role in how you work and how you deliver. I still remember the first time that I was in Belgium for my internship. On Friday’s at 4 PM, there would not be a soul in the office. Fridays were treated more like half-days. I found it quite strange because in India I knew those who worked even on Saturdays.
If an Indian company was to hire a European developer, what kind of expectations might there be? And vice-versa?
Work from Home and HR Policy
The other great challenge with work from home seems to be that the work is never abating. There is no finish time. Your team members might be working different hours from you, so they could call you at 9:30 in the night for a clarification. They are just in the process of putting in their 8 hours. Who is wrong here?
In addition to all this, what does the policy framework look like in a work from home setting? Many of the things like attendance are only theoretical. Several companies have had flexible work schedules for years whose only requirement is that all employees be in the office between 12 PM and 3 PM – for meetings if any. There is no care what time you come in and what time you leave. Would policies have to be re-written in this form?
How do you keep team gelling together and motivated when they are not working together, brainstorming together, engaging with each other as much? There is also a school of thought that we are all burning up the social capital that has been accumulated over the years. What happens when it is exhausted. Would a team member be willing to throw in another favour?
Would emotional quotient become irrelevant or even more relevant where you need to be able to pick up the moods of the other person just based on their voice?
In theory, you could be vacationing in Goa and still be putting in the 8 hours that is needed during the day. Is this counted as leave or work?
The policy framework itself needs a re-think and also it needs to be written keeping in mind the changing needs of different industries. Not all employees will always be working from home. But, some are more likely to be always working from home, as announcements from some of the largest IT companies in India shows. Would we have different yardsticks? Would it also bring different pay structures? Which one would be preferred? Can you do the same work in either mode?
I have more questions than answers and there is going to be a lot of nuances involved in answering these questions organisation by organisation. But answers will have to be found.
Almost everything that has been taught in an HR management course is fast becoming irrelevant. Do we need to start rewriting HR textbooks? Certainly, but where to begin?