Going to office? The dilemma in COVID19 scenario

Newsbharati blog    10-Jul-2020
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“When are we going back to the office?” – This is the standard question that everyone around me keeps asking; whether it is my colleagues, team mates, clients or associates and each time I wonder why is this question so important to everyone? Unless I am in manufacturing industry, where production won’t happen if I am “not going to the floor”. Unless I am in the front-line of battling a Pandemic – hospital or a heath care centre or police station or cleaning and hygiene services, etc. Unless I am working in a local retail & I need to “go to the store” or the warehouse. Unless I am working in a delivery service or a post office, where personal physical presence is mandatory. Why do I need to go to the office for the work to happen? 

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I believe that, all those places where work cannot happen without physically ‘going’ & ‘being’ at that place, like, a grocery store, a farm, a pharmacy or hundred other places, they can’t be classified as being an office!
Lawyers, bankers, accountants, consultants of all kinds, and similar professionals / services, who are ‘worried’ when they might be able to “go back to the office”, from whom are they expecting the answer? When we all know (& if we don’t, it’s high time we do), the answer is, it’s not going to happen, at least not in foreseeable future, no matter what administration says!! Expert Scientists & Doctors tell us that those benchmarks will not be met in 2020 at-least.
So, today & in near future, the world is going to be divided only between those who have to go to their place of work and those who can work from home. Understand that, the important term here is ‘WORK’ & not ‘GOING’.
> Question #1: If your company decides to reopen & you can drive to the office, but your assistant / support team has to take public transport, are you really going to force them to come into the office?
>  Question #2: If your support team is not there, is there any reason for you to go to workplace?
>  Question #3: If some can’t come to the office, and some are on video rather than in-person in meetings, then why not just have everyone on video?
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>  Question #4: Just because the support staffs are surviving pay-check to pay-check, is it fair that they’ll have to take the risks that their bosses are unwilling to?
>  Question #5: Do you want to be the bad boss who makes them take those risks & doesn’t want to be in the office with them or will remove them from jobs for the want of not being in the office?
>  Question #6: Why can’t they (unlike others) wait until vaccine gets available?
>  Question #7: Would you really want those who have children at home, without schools open, to feel like they are mediocre citizens because they have to come to office and others don’t?
>  Question #8: If going into the office involves social distancing, with only having half of a team in at any one time, you’ll actually not be having any meetings in person — while everyone has just gotten used to the new normal of a video meetings & online working, why not use that?
>  Question #9: Even when the vaccine is out, do you feel that everyone at your workplace will be able to afford it? And if not, will they end up losing their jobs also because they can’t afford it?
>  Question #10: Being leaders or bosses or entrepreneurs, shouldn’t we be rather finding ways to make each & every human resource useful, instead of pushing them to rejoin office?
So, exactly why are you taking the risk & making others take even more risk to be back in the office?
Is that so because for all of us, the concept of “going to the office” / “coming to the office” is directly proportionate with receiving salaries or income?  Or is it because of the sheer feeling of losing the jobs or clientele? Do we think that it’s merely ‘going to the office’ that makes us eligible for the payments? Given current reduction in travel time, flexible working hours, etc., is the lock-down not supposed to enhance our productivity rather than reducing it? Why do we still traditionally want to believe ‘working from home’ equals to ‘not working’ (even when there are hundreds of businesses that are functioning exclusive on this model, pandemic or no pandemic)? Why the criteria has to be ‘working time’ (or presence at place of work) rather than output?
If not that, why’s “going to office” of such a grave importance! This Pandemic has hence posed a challenge of leadership & that of humanity before us!
Those of us who are Leaders of the Organizations and in Strategic Decision-making Positions, we have an opportunity to redefine “office” dynamics. Shouldn’t we rise to the occasion & make use of that opportunity for the betterment of the community, instead of simply asking everyone everyday – “When we are going back to the office?” “When are you coming back to the office?”

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 Prakruti Upadhyay 
Director Finance, National Yuva Co-op. Society Ltd. & Designated Partner, Upadhyay & Company LLP, Chartered Accountants.
Prakruti is a Fellow Member of ICAI – FCA, DISA (Diploma in Information System Audit) certified from ICAI, DIRM (Diploma in Insurance & Risk Management) certified from ICAI & FAFD (Forensic Audit & Fraud Detection) Certified from ICAI. With expertise in forensic accounting she specialises in conducting investigations where situation of fraud is suspected., She also provides support in forensic audits where a report may be required in a court of law.
Prakruti is also certified as Licensed Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming by the Society of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and an honorary Speaker/ Trainer conducting lectures / seminars / workshops on a range of topics of Personal Development, Holistic Growth & Motivation. Based in Pune, she is an avid traveller and pursues yoga as she achieves a great balance in her professional and personal life.