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Why the Future Belongs to Officeless Offices Even as we harp on girls' education, the percentage of women dropping out of senior- and mid-level jobs has gone up to 50%.

By Purba Kalita

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Time is money. First heard some 450 years ago, this proverb couldn't be truer today. Yet, not enough has been done to stem lost opportunities. People still travel long distances to reach office, killing both productive hours and their enthusiasm. And that's only part of the story. Companies carry on the hunt for talent locally. Women, unable to continue due to family reasons, are allowed to go. In times of the internet, emails, and smartphones, officeless offices can be the game-changer. Read on for some of its benefits.

1. Hire women and retain them

Even as we harp on girls' education, the percentage of women dropping out of senior- and mid-level jobs has gone up to 50%. In most cases, women have cited the need to quit in order to look after the family and children. Not finding a holistic solution to this need is a pointer of society's failure to promote inclusive economy, where women and men enjoy equal growth opportunities.

Year after year, women have been stealing a march on men with academic excellence. It is then a matter of grave concern if such talent go untapped or are underutilised. If the world can be at our fingertips, why not the workplace? Allowing work from home can be the key to hiring women for greater gender balance at the workplace and retaining them with scope for career advancement.

2. Tap talent from any location

Our metros and big cities continue to witness massive inflow of job seekers from smaller cities and towns. However, with IT penetration even in remote areas, talent acquisition should no longer be dependent on location. Today there are good colleges, national institutes, and central universities in every region. There is stress on improvement and bringing about uniformity in syllabuses. In such a scenario, where is the need to uproot talent? When you hire candidates for remote work from tier 2 or 3 cities, you at once cut down your acquisition cost and also contribute to that region's economy.

Many women in India are not allowed to even study in institutes outside their cities. Remote hiring gives you an opportunity to include career-oriented women in your workforce and contribute to diversity and inclusion in your company.

We have army wives working in different departments of our organisation and they function from wherever their husbands are posted -- whether in Agra, Leh, Pathankot, Chennai, Chandigarh, Guwahati, or Bangalore.

3. No cost of setting up space

For any business, significant overheads can be done away with in a virtual office. No headache of lease, utilities, hardware, and transport. For a startup, this is a dream situation where employees are responsible for managing their day-to-day functioning. Our company has been an ardent advocate of an officeless office right from the beginning. This has helped us save up to Rs 18 lakh annually, which we would have otherwise invested in acquiring right infrastructure.

4. Increased productivity

With stress of daily commute getting removed, people are not just reporting to work on time but they are also fresh and less hassled to take on assigned tasks. If employees in a brick-and-mortar setup mark their presence by being physically present -- whether productive or not -- it becomes incumbent on a virtual team to present themselves through a daily report at the end of the day. Even as the virtual team remains connected through chat, email, and phone, each one ultimately works individually. In the absence of constant monitoring, ownership is greater.

5. Happy and committed workforce

Ask someone who trudges to office every day how she would feel if she was allowed to work from the comfort of her home? Or if she could operate from a beachside resort? Or be there constantly for her unwell parents? When you make room for an officeless office, you open the doors to a happy and committed workforce. There is financial security and employees need not bother when they shift cities. Their jobs accompany them. However, there can be a flip side if people don't learn to strike a work-life balance. They can easily slip into delinquency, leading to low performance and may also end up hampering their personal life. The mantra, therefore, is to stick to a schedule of accomplishing daily tasks and logging off on time to make the most of their work-from-home opportunity.

Purba Kalita

Co-founder, SaleBhai.com

Purba Kalita is the co-founder of Salebhai.com – an e-commerce marketplace that enables people to order a range of specialities directly from their hometowns and discover regional specialities from across India. 
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