In July last year, Yash Saxena, a systems engineer at Infosys in Hyderabad, decided to return to his hometown of Kashipur in Uttarakhand after his company announced working from home for employees. Calling it a “job,” the 24-year-old, who had lived away from home for six years, said “working from his hometown” was a dream come true. âI always wanted to travel, but I couldn’t because of work. But since October of last year, I have resumed my passion and travel to at least two destinations a month for seven-eight days with a group of friends who also work from home, âsays Saxena, adding that he carries her laptop while she travels and takes breaks to get to work so she doesn’t have to take time off. So far he has visited Kedarnath, Tungnath (a temple of Shiva in Rudraprayag), Gangotri, Yamunotri, Rishikesh, Madhyamaheshwar in the Garhwal Himalayas and Badrinath. Saxena, who takes advantage of the fact that he lives in a hill station, prepares for her next trip to Himachal Pradesh.
It was also good in terms of work. Saxena lives in a shared family of 10 and all of her cousins ââare in the IT industry, so it’s easier to work with them, he says, adding that they usually work in the same room unless someone else does. ‘one is not having a meeting. âI eat homemade food, travel wherever I want and spend time with my family. I want this to continue, âhe said.
Saxena is one of many professionals who have left the chaos and rush of metropolitan cities to embrace a simpler life in small towns or home towns by working from home. The trend of migration to cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad has been around since the 1980s, with Gurugram being a later addition. However, after 2020, a growing reverse trend takes over – from people migrating to major cities for work to those moving away from subways as work comes home.
Like Saxena, Madhusree Goswami, a 29-year-old media professional, has also returned to her hometown of Darjeeling. Goswami, who had been working remotely for a year in Bengaluru, changed jobs in April and that was when his family advised him to return, as his new place of work also required him to work at distance. Most of her friends also work remotely from Darjeeling and it has been a good thing to catch up with them, she says, adding that working from her hometown is like a paid vacation. âThere are very few cases of Covid in Darjeeling so it’s good to be back. There is no madness here. I get home cooked meals and my routine has started to fall into place. In Bengaluru, I never woke up at 5.30am for a walk, but now I do. When I was in school, I could read almost an entire book in a day, but when I started working, I could barely read two pages a month. It also changed because I started reading, âGoswami shares, adding that she would like to continue working from her hometown.
24-year-old systems engineer Shrey Pandey, who returned from Hyderabad to Jaipur in June of last year, also hopes the trend towards remote working will continue as it means less expense and an easier life. âI lived in an apartment with three people and we shared all the housework. It was sort of manageable, but then you spend on rent, groceries, electricity, etc., and whatever is saved when you live at home, âsays Pandey, who lives in the house. his parents, where he has his own bedroom, which doubles as a remote office.
In January of this year, the Union Ministry of Labor announced the integration of the ‘home work’ option in establishments with 300 or more workers in the service sector as part of its draft model of permanent settlement. “Subject to conditions of appointment or agreement between the employer and the workers, the employer may allow a worker to work from home during periods or periods determined by the employer,” says the draft code. However, employees who move to other cities to work from home may face a drop in pay, while those who work from home but do not change location may face a change in the elements of the allowance. Transportation allowance, for example, can be replaced by Wi-Fi charges, etc.
With remote working even receiving the green light from the government, the trend is likely to strengthen and play out on a larger scale, but it remains to be seen how the pay shakeout will impact in the future.
There are three types of professionals today: those who like to work from their hometown, those who don’t, and those who would like a hybrid model in the future. The same goes for the student community. A trainee clinical psychologist pursuing a master’s degree in philosophy at ICFAI University in Tripura, Deeksha Rathore, 26, returned to her hometown Dehradun in April this year after her first semester exams. Her daily routine has fallen into place and distance studies are working well as well, but the challenge is that there are no physical visits to the hospital and interactions with patients, which results in reduced his training to theory only. âThe psychologists at Tripura have launched a tele-counseling initiative for Covid patients, so we have to call 20 to 25 patients every day and advise them. But since there is no face-to-face interaction, building a relationship over the phone takes timeâ¦ patients don’t open up and don’t want to share. Most patients say they are fine even if they are not and do not call back. It’s hard to get them to talk about their feelings over the phone, âsays Rathore, adding that counselors like her can only gain experience through physical sessions.
That aside, Rathore says she enjoyed her stay at home as she eats home cooked food. âNortheastern cuisine (in Tripura) was very new to me and I hadn’t gotten used to it. I didn’t know many people on campus either, so it’s good to be back, âshe shares.
Software developer Praful Parashar also prefers a hybrid working model. The 24-year-old has been working for a startup in Bangalore since August 2019 and returned to his hometown of Agra in March of last year. Working from his hometown, he says, has been a mixed experience as the distractions are plentiful. âI was attending a virtual meeting at 9 pm one day and my family (parents and sister) were in the same room. They kept talking and when I had to speak during the meeting I had to leave the room because of the inconvenience, âParashar explains, adding that he can’t really blame his family because his reunion went down. carried out outside working hours. At first, working from the comfort of your bed seemed like a luxury, but a year and a half of work like this made it boring, he says. âI miss social interactions even though I’m more productive at home. I would prefer a hybrid work model where you fly home on days without an office, âsays Parashar.
Obstacles and challenges
A 2020 University of Utah research titled Planning and Development Challenges in Western Gateway Communities shed light on small-town migration in the United States and how it poses planning and development challenges for them. authorities. In India, the challenges are much greater, with internet connectivity and power supply being the main issues.
Many of those who have returned to their hometowns already face challenges. Saxena, who lives in a mountain resort, agrees that sometimes electricity is not available for a day or two. It has happened three or four times since he came back. âBut it’s manageable,â says Saxena, adding, âHowever, I miss the weekend getaways we had in Hyderabad. As Uttarakhand is not as developed, we can’t do it hereâ¦ and have to wait until everyone is free to plan a trip Even then I like to work from my hometown because the pros outweigh the cons.
Goswami jokes that even though she works from her hometown, she hardly finds time for her parents. âI go online early in the morning and am free between 9pm and 10pm, so I don’t have a lot of time with my familyâ¦ yet I like working in the comfort of my hometown,â she says.
One thing is clear: the way we work now will never be the same again. However, it remains to be seen how this reverse migration trend will play out in the years to come and what infrastructure and structural changes it will bring to cities and businesses.