Work and workers are cubicles no more!

Work and workers are cubicles no more!

Frequent travel, tech and 24/7 life have turned homes, cars, planes and beaches into offices..
HOW far is your office? 8 km from home...500 miles away at the client site...20 km away at the airport lounge.A few yards away in your car down there in the garage?



May be right there, at home, in your bed - on your laptop! Just when corporate offices were getting fancier with plush lounges, gourmet food, gym, libraries, crèches.guess what! Your office has moved.

It is penetrating all spaces. Remember those client calls while strolling on Goa sands? Rushing through the security drill to clear those urgent emails at the airport lounge? Or getting out in the middle of a movie to calm down that irate customer. Or simply sitting at home tending to your unwell son while wrapping up that urgent project? Mobile phones, blackberries, laptops - technology and gadgets have helped offices move into our homes, cars and planes.

It is penetrating all spaces. Remember those client calls while strolling on Goa sands? Rushing through the security drill to clear those urgent emails at the airport lounge? Or getting out in the middle of a movie to calm down that irate customer. Or simply sitting at home tending to your unwell son while wrapping up that urgent project? Mobile phones, blackberries, laptops - technology and gadgets have helped offices move into our homes, cars and planes.

Historically, Indians derived their identity from their jobs. It gave them their surnames and a standing in the society. Then urbanization with suburbs brought in the idea of home-for-home and work-for-work model - perhaps good for the shop floored industrial era where synchronous physical presence was critical. Now in a growing number of services sector jobs, that fixity is gone. Individualism and creativity is in. "Work has come back into our lives but in a very different way," says Mr. Desai. Think about the fuss around those carpets, desktops, sofas in the corner room. "In a physical sense, mobile office breaks that fixed notion of hierarchy," says sociologist Shiv Vishwanathan. Instead, new subtle and flexible symbols like Blackberry, cars, designer suits and exclusive clubs are giving the corner room a new form.

As a result, the notion of one person, one job, one place, one identity is undergoing a shift. You can be sitting at home watching a cricket match and still be working - tracking your clients'' network. You might be partying, and yet be available for that 9 pm conference call. At once, multiple identities can coexist. "All this will help bring in freedom and flexibility, fostering innovation and creativity," adds Mr. Vishwanathan. "Why are we so hung up on changing those balloons in the office? Office has moved out of our offices and employers will need to figure that out," says Arun Maira, chairman, Boston Consulting Group. Employers will need different tools to equip, enable and monitor their employees amid this change.

But the impact is being felt far beyond the workers - in his family, especially women. Mothers are the immediate beneficiaries - flexi-arrangement is giving them an option that wasn''t there before. Many companies report improvement in mothers joining back work. It also makes work less abstract - kids, spouses today know far more about those office deadlines, interviews, boardroom meetings, the client crisis that you often grapple with. "This state of continuous partial attention also means many of us would be leading pixilated lives made of small discontinuous dots," says Mr. Desai.

"Working 24/7 is fashionable but youngsters will need to learn to switch on and off," says R Gopalakrishnan, executive director, Tata Sons. Now, did someone say it''s old-fashioned?

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