I received a desperate call from a friend of mine who sounded totally disturbed. Two of his female colleagues were facing harassment from their boss. My friend too was being bullied for extending his support to them. Since they worked with a private limited company having lesser staff, they all three reported to the owner of the organisation. In such a case what could be done? There obviously wasn’t an Internal Complaints Committee – ICC.
A lot has been talked about big companies grappling with this issue where the culprit is asked to quit but, how can we battle such issues in relatively smaller companies? What would I do if I find myself in similar situation?
A study has been conducted by Ernst & Young, Reining in sexual harassment at the workplace in India, which throws light on the present state of implementation of The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013.
The survey reveals that over a quarter of the large companies and half of the small and medium companies, which were surveyed were non-compliant with the act, thus, indicating clearly the indifferent attitude towards addressing this serious issue.
I am a freelance writer now but alongside when I had a full-time job, life was quite stressful. Often, I had to stretch beyond office timings to meet the deadlines. It is true that there was a lot of learning when our entire team was working towards finishing the tasks but getting home late and getting back to work again the very next morning was hectic. Isn’t it obvious?
I was left with no personal life, figured out the gap was only getting widened between my personal life and professional life, and work-life balance was just a dream; fashionable to be mentioned during discussions. Also, I started getting increasingly exhausted and couldn’t write creatively.
I found myself losing patience and getting irritated at work as well as at home. Counselors are placed in some companies to handle emotional issues but not approaching them out of awkwardness is commonly seen. Where some companies have yet to address this growing phenomenon, a couple of startups have taken the mantle of bettering the mental health of working professionals.
Companies have realised that happy workers lead to happy customers. Heldergroen, a Dutch startup has introduced ‘disappearing office’ aiming at work-life balance. At 6 pm desks are lifted up into the ceiling and all the paperwork is left on the desk forcing the employees to step away from work.
While working with the team, I found interacting with my team members and teams across various other departments refreshing as much as it was engaging and productive. It just gave me a broader perspective of how the company was being run and the challenges too. But, one thing I strongly disliked is chatting over the messenger while sitting in the same office. I preferred walking up to my colleagues to connect and discuss. Face-to-face conversations were more detailed, connecting, transparent and fulfilling.
Soon, I learnt a bit about social media campaigns and digital marketing. Interacting with digital marketing head and the team was drop dead interesting. They kept sending me literature on varied topics and I found myself on Coursera too joining courses on related topics. My boss sent me to a 3 month comprehensive training on varied products. Things had changed; with this wider scope to learn and implement my knowledge, the office seemed an interesting place to hang around.
Freelancers have a tough life juggling between varied projects but, do have the liberty to work when it suits them and to attend meetups arranged by companies. One such meet up I regularly attend are the WordPress meets.
Automattic is the company behind WordPress, which provides a platform to bloggers and companies to create their website. All their team members work remotely and they have a process in place to integrate, communicate and keep a track of work updates. With a team of over 600 people working remotely, they have managed to successfully run and grow the company.
Companies are also running the extra mile to adjust to the work preferences of employees by allowing them to opt for flexible working hours. Four-fifths of companies in India are offering flexible working hours and this has resulted in reduced overheads.
The ways we work today are transformed phenomenally. Our workplace has evolved due to the volatile economic, technological and social factors. It is no more the same routine and static workplace now; it’s dynamic with full of innovations and experiments. Knowledge itself is not enough, employees need to use it to get creative solutions.
Today, our economy is fueled by creativity and diversity; a thriving and a lively workplace that adapts quickly so that we step out of our comfort zones more often and bring our thinking forces to work.
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