To call or not to call employees back to work was the biggest dilemma Indian organisations faced after the lockdown lifted last year. Now, with the country facing the COVID-19 second wave, the situation is back to square one.
In May last year, Twitter said it would allow a big chunk of its employees to work from home permanently. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said, “I think that it’s possible that over the next five to 10 years — may be closer to 10 than five, but somewhere in that range — I think we could get to about half of the company working remotely permanently.”
However, not all tech leaders seem to be okay with the concept of complete WFH. Recently, JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon said WFH doesn’t work “for those who want to hustle.
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So, what’s India tech companies planning to do once the government starts the unlocking process? Let’s find out.
Back to office
Many founders, leaders and HR heads in India are looking forward to safely opening up offices as soon as possible. “Working from offices will not only help increase the productivity, coordination and collaboration amongst the employees but also help them socialise and stay connected with their peers. By following all the precautionary methods, you can not only safeguard employee’s physical health but also improve their mental health,” said Satish Kannan, Co-founder & CEO, MediBuddy.
Medibuddy, a telemedicine startup that merged with DocsApp last year, has a team of 1,100 employees. The startup plans to bring in employees in a phased manner in July 2021.
“I believe it is important for us to be back to the office because when we are working from the office together, there is a different level of coordination, communication and a spirit of teamwork,” said Minal Anand, CEO and Founder of GuruQ, a home-tutoring platform.
A lot of employees have been able to adapt to work from home without hurting productivity. However, not just the leaders, surprisingly, many employees also want to be back in the office, according to the founders. People prefer working from the office for personal and professional reasons, feels Chetan Yadav, Chief People Officer at Tally Solutions.
Tally Solutions is headquartered in Bengaluru, and its business software products cater to more than 6 million users across industries in over 100 countries.
“I think flexibility and empathy are the keywords here. It’s been a tough time for everyone, and WFH has worked, but one really misses out on the office culture. At LogiNext, we’ve always been a team who likes to work together, and we’ve been getting requests from employees to open up as well,” said Neetha Thomas, Chief of Staff at LogiNext.
Vaccination is key
Many tech companies are conducting vaccination drives to make the workplace safe for employees. As of now, more than 50 % of Acer India’s employees have taken their first dose of vaccination. “We are encouraging the remaining employees to complete the vaccination process at the earliest. By the end of July 2021, we are hopeful of completing 100 % vaccination across the organisation,” said Bhasker Bhandary, Senior Director-HR, Acer India.
“Completion of vaccination process will be the top priority at this point of time to ensure everyone’s safety,” he added.
Tally has also mandated WFH till September 01. Meanwhile, it is getting all employees vaccinated. “We have been working on protocols, the first part is getting all employees and their families vaccinated. So far, we have vaccinated 700+ employees and their family members for their first dose,” said Yadav.
Companies are looking to re-open based on internal surveys regarding the comfort and requirements of individuals and teams, with feedback from the leadership team. “Considering this, we’d be slowly opening up the office for whoever wants to work from the office, and a lot of decisions will be taken on a month to month basis depending on how things shape up,” said Neetha Thomas, Chief of Staff at LogiNext.
The protocols include:
- Arogya Setu app and travel history checks at the entrance
- Availability of hand sanitiser at multiple locations
- Everyday cleaning and sanitisation of desks, chairs and all key areas
- Designated quarantine area for isolating employees if someone falls sick
- Awareness sessions for employees
- Temperature screening before entering the office
- Doctor on call
Hybrid work place
Following Google’s footsteps, many companies are considering a hybrid model workplace. Recently Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, sent out an email to employees about the company’s decision to create a hybrid workplace model wherein around 60% of the employees would come together in the office a few days every week, another 20% would work in new office locations, and the remaining 20% would work from home.
Acer, for instance, has settled into a “hybrid” model. “We believe this will offer the flexibility that employees need to balance work with taking care of themselves and also meeting the organisation requirement,” said Bhandary
UST, a digital technology company providing advanced computing and digital innovation solutions to large enterprises and operating in over 25+ countries, has no immediate plans to bring back its 15,000 staff in India to the offices. However, whenever it does, it is going to opt for a hybrid workplace.
“There are many real and tangible benefits for both the organisation and associates in the hybrid approach. Increased productivity, work-life balance, opportunity to engage a diverse, global, and “border-less” workforce are some of the more obvious ones. Family bonding, health, and well-being, increased autonomy are significant but unseen benefits and will be crucial as we move towards finding new ecosystems to create value,” said Manu Gopinath, Chief Operating Officer, UST.