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Posted at: Mar 29, 2015, 12:46 AM; last updated: Mar 28, 2015, 5:38 PM (IST)

On the home turf

Swati Rai

Working from home is getting increasingly popular among employees in the corporate sector and is also finding favour with employers, making it a win-win situation for everyone

James Joseph is the founder of JackFruit365, an initiative to create an organised market for nutrient-rich jackfruits in India. He was earlier working with MNCs like Microsoft and Ford. At Microsoft, as Director, Executive Engagement, he worked from his hometown in Kerala and managed to strengthen the company’s relationship with senior executives of top 200 enterprises in India. James penned his experiences of working from home in his book God’s Own Office- How One Man Worked for a Global Giant from a Village in Kerala.

A recipient of many awards that include Circle of Excellence, the highest award at Microsoft and Start-Up Entrepreneur of the Year by TiEcon Kerala, James says, “My success mantra as home-based worker was my discipline to work without supervision and my ability to manage disruptions while working from home.”

Another such home-worker is Bangalore-based techie Monika Manchanda, who took a break after a decade of working in the IT sector. She says, “Now I run a food enterprise called “Sin-A-Mon” where we do home baking, culinary workshops for kids and adults, food consulting (designing recipes) for restaurants and brands like ITC, Fortune!”

Reasons are varied — monotony in work, the will to take risks and at times to discover untapped channels in one’s work life. Says James “Apart from the obvious reasons, I wanted to provide my children with a slow life surrounded by nature, spirituality and family and friends.”

A similar reason is cited by Mumbai-based author and activist, Kiran Manral. Winner of the Women Achievers award by Young Environmentalists Group in 2013, Kiran, worked as a scribe before quitting to become a full-time mom. She is the founder of the volunteer relief network Indiahelps that worked on the rehabilitation of some of the 26/11 victims. The Reluctant Detective and Once Upon a Crush are the two novels by Kiran.

Monika adds, “I started baking almost daily and recording it on my blog. The appreciation and my own passion reiterated my belief that this is what I want to do.”

It is not all smooth sailing for the people working from home, as it brings in much insecurity. There are fears of losing the stronghold in one’s established beats and also of a sustained cash flow.

But then there is also the ease factor of working from home. Says Monika, “I think that helps a lot while drawing the line between home and office when working from the same space.”

Commenting on the growing trend of people working from home, Sairee Chahal, founder and CEO of Flexi Moms and Sheroes.com, a company that offers consultancy, guidance and direction to many people to start working from home and do flexi-hours in projects of their choice, she says, “Working from home and doing your thing is the future and it will only grow because of the tectonic shift in business cycle. These have grown shorter and the uncertainty in the corporate careers is growing exponentially. Working from can help hedge that risk.”

Away from the pressures of a boss and an eye on the clock, how does then one keep oneself on track and achieve results? Kiran gives credit to her strong ‘work ethic’ to deliver things as promised, while James attributes this to his “discipline to work without supervision and my ability to manage disruptions.”

In today’s age when the noise on twitter and Facebook is a business must, how does a home worker manage the pressures of the constant fish-bowl treatment? James believes in keeping the ‘public professional side of his concern’ and any tit-bits in the personal or social experience can go public if ‘it helps to reinforce the message I am trying to convey through social media.’ Kiran has gone a step further and deleted Facebook and twitter from the phone and ‘only allow myself coffee breaks during which I check all social media though she is quick to add “social media has been a tremendous help.”

With the ease of work growing, aided by technology, fast growing attitudes and the ability to take risks, many skilled people, irrespective of the gender, would be joining this growing work from home force. Sairee adds, “I see this trend growing further as technology advances and workplaces increasingly becoming flexi-work friendly. The taboo of working from home especially for men and following your passion is no longer there in at least the urban set-up.”

As a tip for the upcoming home-based workers, James says, “Keep a tight control on cash flow management and leverage social media and PR well to keep the cost low”.

Kiran adds, “Have one year’s expenses in the bank or a trust fund. Have a strong work ethic and deliver as promised. Don’t stop work because you don’t feel like it, you are your own boss and you should know how to crack the whip on yourself!”

The other benefits of working from home include, saving up on commuting time, cashing in on the early morning hours and so on. However, the challenge lies in marrying freedom with responsibility consistently!

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