Benefits of staggered office hours outweigh challenges: Working professionals

Echoing the sentiments of urban planning and transportation experts, working professionals who face the daunting prospect of commuting to work again, while keeping the threat of COVID-19 at bay, feel that both the public and private sector should pursue staggered working hours in offices.

For instance, Shadab Siddiqui, a management consultant working in the city, believes that while there may be significant challenges in implementation of staggered office hours, the benefits are worth overcoming any teething problems associated with such a move.

“Most corporates have a digital attendance recording system which captures swipe-in and swipe-out timings which automatically gets translated to monthly payroll workings. These will have to be modified by the corporates with the help of their technology vendors to factor in the timing adjustments,” said Siddiqui.

“Also, monitoring the compliance is a challenge for the authorities, and this may take the form of self-reporting of weekly or monthly attendance logs by the corporates and surprise audits at best. So, while the concept of staggered working hours sounds good, there will be significant implementation challenges. The city authorities would do well to look at case studies of comparable cities overseas which have implemented this in the past to identify and adopt best practices."

Vijayendra Bhaavsar, a corporate communications professional working in a private firm, suggested that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and state government should identify places where a lot of corporate offices are located and implement the concept on a pilot-project basis.

"There is a high density of corporate offices in Lower Parel and Bandra Kurla Complex. The authorities should enforce staggered office hours for those companies that insist their employees come to office during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, government sector employees should also be asked to report at different timings," Bhaavsar said.

Amruta Ponkshe, associate fellow at Observer Research Foundation (ORF), an independent think tank, said, "Of course, staggered office timings will be beneficial. In fact, the government should come out with some directives or guidelines regarding this, especially for those for whom going to office is essential. Now that we are moving toward unlocking, staggered timings will help in many ways."

Ponkshe said ORF has been mooting the idea of staggered office timings as a way to help with dispersal of traffic. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, implementation of the concept can now also help in maintaining social distancing, she added.

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