This can be the perfect mantra for the new age woman who has a burning ambition to pursue her career but wants to be a hands-on mom too. However, working from home can be a double-edged sword if you don't quite follow the rules. I spoke to some women who have worked from home in the past and are still doing so, and found out it has as many advantages as it has challenges.
"Apart from the obvious advantages of saving travelling time and not incurring the overheads of having to step out of the house, flexible working hours are a blessing, I can take on as many projects as possible and not restrict myself to one job. Also, being available as a mother to tend to a sick/injured child is an advantage comparable to nothing else in the world," says Deepika Sharma, a marketing and sales consultant in the travel industry.
Most women find work from home solution the best way to continue working while looking after their growing child. Naina Shetty, a communications consultant, who recently joined the workforce full-time after 3 years of being a work-from-home mom, feels like it was the best decision she made. Says Naina,"I chose to work from home when my son was 6 months old, so that I could be around and tend to his needs. Also, it gave me ample time to train the nanny I had appointed for my son, so that she would do things for him the way I would like them to be done, without any compromise on his care. Working from home in the initial years helped me gain confidence in her, and also helped my son grow independent right under my supervision."
For many others, like Bhavna Rawlley, a manager at a major consulting firm, working from home became the best solution when she moved cities and didn't have immediate family around, to help her with looking after her son. "When I lived in Bangalore, going to work was stress-free for me, because my son was looked after by his grandparents. However, moving cities changed that. I wanted to ensure my son continues to be in a secure home environment and that is what prompted me to look for a job where I could be around him and yet maintain my independence and career."
But with its advantages such as, "getting the best of both worlds," in Naina's words or "being able to tend to any sickness or injuries" like Bhavna points out, there also come some disadvantages.
"Working from home definitely means missing out on the camaraderie of a team and dealing with household distractions or even working at odd hours sometimes," reveals Deepika. "The joy of climbing the corporate ladder, and the thrill of competition are lost," she adds. Another aspect that can be challenging at times is "the lack of discipline that comes with working at home," says Bhavna. "You have no distinction between personal and professional life. They both flow into each other, leaving you with no 'me' time. There is this feeling that since you are at home you have to be accessible at all times, lest people think you are snoozing during work hours. Then, there are these impossible situations when you have a deadline and your kid is screaming for your attention. You can't go somewhere and shut it out, and work on your deliverable, you are at home! Also, the attitude that people sometimes have, oh you are working from home, that's pretty chilled out, let's go out shopping. I really can't do that-I have a 24*7 job!" she adds.
While many have found that striking the right balance and sticking to a set schedule is perhaps the best way to succeed on both the personal and professional fronts, many others treat work-from-home as the perfect stop-gap career arrangement till their kids are old enough for them to rejoin the regular workforce. Naina believes that it was the best way to keep in touch with her career and helped her transition into full time work more easy, because she never really left.
Would you contemplate taking up the work-from-home option if your company offered it? Are companies offering this option to their employees?