I have, for the last 21 years worked from anywhere I could get a connection. Whether on top of Casper Mountain, at the beach in San Diego, or in another country while on a surf trip, the internet allowed me to work. I told people that often asked about my commute here in Southern California, that it wasn’t a problem as my only commute was to and from the airport. And the train could take me to and from. I rarely had to deal with the dreaded Southern California traffic and in Wyoming the drive down Casper Mountain to the airport was beautiful.
Commuting for the ladies in Chennai is far more complicated and time-consuming. Or it was until COVID-19. That commute was always an issue. I lived in Mumbai for two years. I often took the trains on weekends just to get out and see the sights or even just for the ride. But that was my choice and I was a train tourist. I grew up riding the subways in Boston and I always check out the local trains in countries I visit. The ones in the Baltics reminded me of the trains in India sans the crowds, Asia they are state of the art, Europe wonderful adventures await and Africa…. Yeah never mind a topic for some other place and time.
I did not need to take the train every day to get to and from work. Sometimes taking 1-2 hours just to travel to an office, work 8-9 hours, and then head back in a jam-packed train, sitting on the floor with no closing doors and windows just open areas to jump on and off. Women and kids laughing, talking, buying from the hawkers that sell trinkets. They have all women cars for trains, not buses. I tried the first-class train from Andheri, the first time in Mumbai years ago on a recommendation of a friend. Now that was a shock, to all the men when I got on board. 😉 I decided on the regular class, all-woman cars were more fun. Yep for me, it was weekend trips for my employees, a daily grind.
That public transportation is great and improving but it is still congested and packed. The buses? Nope don’t get me started on those. I cringe when I think of riding them, they are very problematic for a myriad of reasons and I was able to at least take autos where the train did not go. But public transport is how some of our employees got to work before COVID-19. Now when we open that will no longer be allowed. Not that it will not be available. The trains and buses are running, and they will have passengers, just not our employees.
Rule # 1 No public or hired car transport. Unless our employees can use personal transports like an automobile or two-wheeler they will continue to work remotely from home.
Rule # 2 If you have children stay home and work remotely. We have a day-care room built in our office and prior to COVID we had a fulltime childcare provider to take care of the 3-5 little ones that showed up daily. But for now, we will keep that closed and let the moms work from home.
Rule # 3 If you are feeling anything like a cold, fever, flu, headache, or difficulty breathing stay home and check back the next day. If a family member is feeling any of these symptoms, stay home.
Rule # 4 If you do come to the office to work, Masks are mandatory at all times. (yes, we will supply them and have them cleaned daily)
Rule # 5 Temp checks and wellness questionnaire will be done each day before entering the common workroom
Rule # 6 The office will be sanitized each night. Hand sanitizer will be at the end of every row and toilets cleaned on a regular schedule. (that part was already in effect now we just have a daily signed checklist to confirm it.)
Rule # 7 Every other workstation will remain empty and fans will circulate to open windows at all times. No AC. (Yep the temps can be tough, but the fans actually are better than the AC anyway. Even I prefer them to AC when I am there.)
Rule # 8 If you have to go to family, cultural, or religious events, outside of your cohorts that reside in your home, stay home for two weeks after the event.
At first when they got to work from home these ladies we excited. It was a new adventure. Their families occasionally showed up in a zoom call background. In some ways, it made us an, even a more, cohesive unit. But after two and ½ months even this has worn off. Last night there was a unanimous call to get back to the office and lots of laughter over why.
The remote option is there and is the safety they can rely on. The choice is theirs’ as long as the rules above are followed.
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Penny Breslin is the founder of MoneyPenny, a consulting firm specializing in helping accounting firms and other businesses embrace the power of technology to simplify their operations and increase their profit margins.
Penny has been recognized by Worldwide Who’s Who for showing dedication, leadership, and excellence in providing quality consulting services to an international clientele made up of CPA firms and other businesses.
Penny holds a Master of Business Administration in Global Management and is a member of the Intuit Pro-Advisor Group, is a Xero Certified Advisor, a member of the Wave Pro Network, and a FreshBooks consultant. A firm believer in being able to work from anywhere, you’ll often find Penny running her business on the beach after a morning surf session.