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Background:

  • All the proper preventive measurements are being taken in the building

  • All senior members are reporting to the office, and talk is going on to allow work from home (WFH) for all

So should I be making a mistake by allowing WFH/ rejecting WFH?

I have already informed this to higher management and no response has been given yet.

Location: Hyderabad, India

  • 2
    We will need more details to be able to help, we know the upsides of WFH, but what downsides do you see? – Tymoteusz Paul Mar 18 at 12:54
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    If everyone else is working from home, what benefit do the new people gain from coming to the office? – AsheraH Mar 18 at 14:12
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    What is a fresher? A new person? – guest Mar 18 at 18:33
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    " So should I be making a mistake by allowing WFH/ rejecting WFH? " is very unclear to me, could you perhaps briefly define what the choice is (i.e. what exactly your call/decision is), whom it would affect, and what the pros/cons that you think exist are – user2813274 Mar 19 at 0:45
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    fresher : "1. (Britain) A first year student at a university. 2. (India) A fresh graduate looking for his or her first job." – Peter Mortensen Mar 19 at 14:57
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I have already informed this to higher management and no response has been given yet

Ask them again, they have the authority to implement work from home. You obviously don't. There's more to it than just a decision, there's a lot of logistics and security that need to be taken into account. So they may be looking at all the peripherals. This can take time.

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    Be aware that there may be a capacity issue with Work From Home and the I.T. foundation needs to accommodate the possible high traffic. – Thomas Matthews Mar 18 at 23:52
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    Given the emergency, the default answer must be WFH unless ordered otherwise (e.g., doctors need to work at the hospital). Given exponential growth "This can take time." is not OK. – emory Mar 19 at 14:39
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    Also consider that people coming into the office may travel with bikes or public transport, and there are risks connected to this – Ferrybig Mar 19 at 16:25
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    @emory - If the infrastructure to support work from home stop working, then body works, which means nobody gets paid. "This can take time" provided there is a deadline attached can be an alright response. – Donald Mar 19 at 17:25
  • @emory it's not ok to you, but you're not in a position to action anything in the company. Plenty of places are not giving a WFH response to workers. – Kilisi Mar 20 at 1:09
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You should allow it, and I have two reasons. For one, you risk that somebody will get infected, and the whole company is shut down, without having time to set up WFH. And as a second reason, with trainees/freshers, there is very little reason to keep them in your workplace, they don't cost as much, they are not central to your operation. You are just keeping them around so they can act as potential spreaders.

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    Worse, depending on local legislation, the company could be held accountable if they make them come in and one of them gets ill. – AsheraH Mar 18 at 14:13
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    @AsheraH: True in general, but in this particular case (Corona in India) it will be impossible to prove where the disease was contracted. And since the default is that the company is not accountable, without proof it will remain so. – MSalters Mar 19 at 15:53
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It depends.

Are the trainees able to do their training from home? Do they have the tools they need? Can that still get whatever help or instruction they'd be getting from more experienced workers if they were in the office? If working from home does slow down the training can the company / department / team they work for afford it.

Same goes for the freshers. Can they still do all their work from home? Their pace will probably slow down, can the relevant parties afford that? If they need to work with somebody else on a task are they still able to do so?

If the answer to all these questions is yes then you absolutely should let them work from home. If the answer is no to any or all of these questions then you need to analyze the risk vs the reward to determine your decision.

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    It's highly likely that some of them will have to stay home at some point in the next few months, so we should be finding out the problems now, and finding ways that they can WFH. Otherwise you'll be the guy who failed to plan for a very foreseeable problem. – Robin Bennett Mar 18 at 13:33
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    I would ask: is having them being on a slower pace preferable to the risk of them getting ill and (a) having them not working and all and (b) spreading the disease to other company members? – Ángel Mar 18 at 23:30
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The way I see it you have two options:

  • Dig your head in the sand and wait until your country goes into lockdown (it will come)
  • Try to get this sorted before that happens

If you dig your head into the sand and just wait for it to happen you'll be totally unprepared for it and will find it really hard to actually work. If you get all this sorted (remote working I mean) then you'll at least be able to do something.

It's not clear in your message if you are in a position to make this call but I would suggest even for yourself checking out how hard it is to work from home as if you leave it too late you might find there's nothing you can do.

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The way I view it is simple.

If you don't trust someone to work from home, how do you trust them to work in an office ?

Yes there are distractions at home, but there are in the office too.

I'm personally more productive when at home as people can't drop my desk for little favours with MS Excel.

Also this situation is very different to the norm, so allow it, it won't last forever.

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    If there are no technical limitations on work from home, it sounds like there may be cultural problems - companies who aren't used to working remotely may not have all of the extra 'soft skills' in place to appropriately 'keep an eye' on their new workers, as well as not being able to motivate them appropriately. – Cinderhaze Mar 19 at 14:19
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    @JoeStrazzere: With new workers, you always need to check if they're being productive. When they're working from home, the same applies. Either they are productive, and they can stay, or they aren't, and then you let them go. – MSalters Mar 19 at 15:55
  • @JoeStrazzere you should trust your employee form day 1, if you have any reason to think they won't do the work, then why did you employee them in the first place – PeterH Mar 19 at 16:01
  • @JoeStrazzere fair points, as I said this isn't a normal situation to be in – PeterH Mar 19 at 16:32
  • @PeterH: How should you know for anybody if they do the work? Still, you have to hire someone. Also, for many people, at home are wifes, husbands, childrens, parents etc. who ask for "little favors" which could make the people more unproductive against their wills. – guest Mar 20 at 18:01

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