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COVERSTORYThe coronavirus pandemic forced governments and corporates worldwide toswitch to a new paradigm: Work From Home. Could this be a viable option, evenafter the crisis passes?Coronavirus ChallengePropelling a New Paradigm ofWork from HomeAnand Parthasarathy
April 2020|Science Reporter|15THE more things change, the more they remain thesame, runs a French proverb. Here is a strikingillustration. Some five years ago, this correspondenthad an interview fixed with an IBM executive in one of severaloffices of that company in Bengaluru.On the appointed day I made my way to the office and wasmet in the lobby by one of IBM’s corporate communicationsofficers. “We need to go to Meeting Room no 2. Let me tryand find it,” she said. I was a bit surprised. Surely someonewho worked there would know the geography of the place?Turned out she didn’t work there – or in any of IBM’s half adozen locations in the city.Like thousands of IBM staff, she ‘worked from home’and came to office on rare occasions like this when she hadto organise a media meeting. If for some reason she neededto work from office, she had to “book” a workstation inadvance. She showed me a large hall with dozens of suchcubicles, with a floating population of IBMites. After myinterview was over, I went back to my home – and the ladydid likewise, to hers.More recently, I heard from a manager at the multinationaltech company, Cisco, that some 60 percent of their staff,particularly in Indian metros, had the option of working eitherfrom home or from one of those serviced “workspaces”available for rent near their homes. Cisco saw no sense inthousands of staff spending three hours or more of productivetime, commuting to the city’s IT clusters.“Work From Home” is therefore not a new concept.It has been around for over a decade (see box: “Flashback:the first home worker”). The concept has been called manythings including Telecommuting and Remote Working. Butthe coronavirus pandemic suddenly made this a compulsionrather than an option.The Indian government mandated that corporates allowas many as possible of their employees to operate fromhome – and set an example within its own walls. When ane-Learning: Touching a Broad Spectrum of StudentsWith students and professionals forced to stay indoors, the appeal ofdistance learning is compellingFor parents with young children, the challenge of how to slip in some study time into allthose hours of TV binge watching has been met. The answer is e-learning: Internet-basedcurriculum-based coaching, at which leaders like Byju’s, Unacademy, Khan Academy, etc.have excelled for some years.There are over a hundred India-specific e-learning apps, most of them in the form ofAndroid apps. And many lifted their paywalls during the Covid-19 lockdown. The walls willcome back once full normalcy is restored – but many parents may see the value of distancelearning as a long term investment.

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Term
Fall
Professor
Unknown
Tags
Videoconferencing, Telecommuting

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