WFH vs Remote working & the WFH allowance analysis

I had previously written about how the employees working in major Indian IT companies became accidental remote workers. Adding to the puzzle was the 20000 to 50000 INR work from home allowance given by employers to set up or upgrade work from home infrastructure. Let’s understand the what, how, why about the WFH allowance.

What is the difference between WFH and remote working?

Work from home or WFH is a temporary arrangement till the pandemic subsides whereas remote working is an employer mindset where employees are empowered to work from wherever they live.

WFH will soon subside but remote working will last forever. In the future companies adopting WFH will reduce the number given the vaccine and adaptability.

Understanding the difference between WFH and remote working is critical to analyze how companies tried to narrow down the WFH financial allowance budget per employee.

What is this WFH allowance

WFH allowance is a no questions asked one-time payment given to employees to set up or fix their home office

The good news is that employees got some extra cash. Here is a news article from TOI about how Salesforce India gives its employees 250$ for setting up a home office in India.

The list goes on

  • Google India gives 1000$

  • G7 CR ships chairs & tables

  • Springworks a one time allowance of 25000 INR

Why do companies give WFH allowance

There are 2 aspects to this allowance

  1. The employers want to partially fund your WFH infrastructure so that there is no dip in productivity due to trivial reasons like power cuts or backaches due to missing ergonomics. Gently the employers have put the ball in employees’ court. The employees cannot blame problems like no UPS, no rolling chair, etc. The employees are bound to fix the work environment problems with WFH assistance money.

    For readers outside India, stable uninterrupted electricity is not guaranteed. Sometimes we have full-day power cuts and uninformed power cuts. Internet being a private sector asset, the quality is good.

  2. The WFH allowance is a quick fix to the bigger problem like keeping employees motivated amidst pay cuts, no promotions, and lack of appraisals. It’s like taking a DOLO 650 tablet during a long grueling bus journey, it gives temporary relief.

What can be done with WFH allowance

Of course, you can buy WFH accessories like

  • Worktable

  • Rolling chair

  • UPS connection

  • Extra monitor

  • Keyboard & mouse

  • mid-range mobile/tablet (to install the office communicator)

  • Coffee machine if you are a coffee fan

You can buy one or two from the above list. It’s very unlikely that you can buy all of the above from the nominal WFH.

What you cannot buy from WFH allowance

There are many things you cannot buy

  1. You cannot buy more space for a dedicated WFH experience. My working place has enough space for a 4 feet table, rolling chair, UPS, etc but it’s part of the bedroom. It means I cannot offer late-night operations support like the way I did at the office.

  2. Shielding from external noises is a challenge. It’s very common to hear sounds from Indian kitchens, roads, and people talking in the background. Due to smaller households, it’s a challenge to keep noises low during meetings.

  3. No psychological on/off for Work mode. Most employees report working longer hours at home because there is no start & end time.

  4. We cannot buy the social networking aspect of the office. No social connection with colleagues and fewer chances of making friends.

  5. You cannot buy top-end accessories, good ergonomic products like the stand-up desk which is the easy upside of 25000 INR.

Is this WFH allowance enough for employees?

I appreciate the effort taken by employers to partially finance the employee’s WFH environment amidst tough times. WFH allowance comes as soother after employees missed their hikes and variable pays.

The amount is certainly enough to buy one or two items but cannot fund the entire home office.

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