Not everyone endorses Marissa Mayer's stand against working from home.
The Yahoo CEO recently called employees working from home back to office, startling many a proponent of flexi-work/time policies. Back home in India, while many companies and banks in the private sector already follow flexi-time policy, which also serves as a retention tool, the practice has found a key taker in a very important institute of the country — the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Early this year, RBI introduced what it termed as "crucial four hours" during which every employee should be present in office. The employees can choose the remaining four hours according to their choice. Earlier, the RBI office in Mumbai remained open between 9.45 am and 5.45 pm. To accommodate the new flexi-timing option, the office now remains open between 8 am and 8 pm. Counting the four core hours between 11 am to 3 pm, which includes lunch time, the officers get to choose any eight hours that they wish to work from office. Some come at 8 am and work till 4 pm while others come in at 11 am and leave at 7 pm.
The new scheme is valid for officers from grade B, the base rung, to grade F, the highest level across India. Going by RBI's latest annual report, a little over 3,000 officers will be entitled to its flexi-timing system. So, if an employee has personal work to attend to during the morning hours, he or she can opt any eight hours between 8 am and 8 pm. Similarly, there would be others who may want to spend time with family or attend social dos in the evenings and may accordingly choose their eight hours of work at office.
"The RBI felt the need to adopt a flexi-time approach to align its HR practices with the best in the country and in the world, and to supplement its efforts at being a knowledge institution," said Alpana Killawala, chief general manager, department of communication, RBI. "More importantly, as younger people join the stream of our officers, we want them to balance their home and work lives," Killawala said.
While the project is a pilot that the policy maker with 18,000-strong workforce has started from January 2, 2013, it clearly indicates the growing importance of maintaining a work-life balance in the public sector as well. Most people have a perception that government-related jobs are rigid when it comes to adhering to a certain time schedule.
A few PSUs that TOI spoke to on their intention to introduce flexi work timings elicited a curt negative response. However, RBI's move could influence other government institutions to follow suit.
"It is a step in the right direction. It would certainly help motivate the staff. The private sector has been doing this for quite some time now, but for a public sector body to introduce flexi timings, I would give RBI full marks for this," said Ronesh Puri, managing director, Executive Access, an executive search firm.
RBI's HR department is preparing a feedback report on the scheme. The transformation of the administration department to the human resources management department within RBI is a critical indicator of how processes and approaches have changed over the years. It was only a decade ago that RBI set up a separate HR department alongside the admin department. While HR came up with new policies, the admin implemented them. A few years ago, a need was felt to merge the two departments.