The culture of work from home (WFH) has gained more acceptance in the IT sector. Although the industry is making a comeback and employees are gradually returning to their offices after spending more than 18 months on the work from a home model, the trend is expected to stay.
According to John M Thomas, the CEO of IT parks in Kerala, the new work culture has created a positive impact on society by including more new mothers and the differently-abled in the workforce. Thomas said that the companies will continue to operate in a hybrid fashion and not shrink the workforce.
"This trend has a net positive impact on the IT industry and society, including workforce expansion to include segments like new mothers, differently-abled, etc., reduced traffic congestion in cities, and a decentralized IT workforce that is not just clustered around major cities," Thomas said.
Notably, with the easing of Covid-19 regulations, exemption of restrictions and complete vaccination of employees, firms across the country are planning to resume work from the office. The majority of the IT companies are opting for a hybrid working model with a mix of employees working from home and office simultaneously.
Leading IT companies like TCS, Infosys, Wipro, and HCL Technologies are chalking out plans to recall their employees.
TCS, the country's largest IT company, has said it will call back its employees to their office soon as 70 percent of them have been fully vaccinated and around 95 percent have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
“With 70 percent of employees fully vaccinated, and over 95 percent having received at least one dose, we plan to gradually get our workforce back in the office by the end of this year,” Milind Lakkad, chief HR officer of the company, said.
The company has plans to encourage its associates to return to offices towards the end of CY'21. The company will move towards adopting the '25/25' model wherein only 25 percent of its almost half-a-million global workforce will be in office locations at any point in time, with associates spending only 25 percent of their time in the office. And within project teams, only 25 percent of employees can be co-located.
"We are committed to the 25/25 model but before the transition to the model, we need to start by getting people back to the office and gradually evolve to 25/25," the TCS said in a statement.
Infosys, the second-largest Indian IT company, is also planning for a hybrid work model. Its COO Pravin Rao said that 86 percent of Infoscions in India have received at least one dose of vaccination and that the company is now preparing to embrace the hybrid work model.
"We have equipped employees with the resources they need to be productive, cyber-secure, stay connected, and maintain a work-life balance. Our talent strategy also factors in expanded hiring pools that include new communities and work locations,” Rao said.
Notably, Wipro's fully vaccinated employees have already started going back to offices. The country's third-biggest IT company is also following a hybrid work model with fully vaccinated workers coming to the office two days a week. Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji had earlier shared a video showing Covid-19 safety protocols such as temperature checks and QR code scans being observed as employees return to the office.
HCL Technologies has also asked its senior employees to come to the office at least twice a week, while others must attend office once a week as per requirement.
“We do expect momentum to increase by the end of this calendar year. This is the policy that we have at this point of time,” Apparao VV, chief human resource officer, said.
With IT companies' decision to resume offices, many believe that the decision will help in reviving the local economy as there will be an increase in demand for rented housing facilities, daily wage laborers, and other services.
"The reopening will be a great step for the local shopkeepers and small businesses who have been hit hard due to the pandemic and remote working culture. Many bachelor tenants who moved suburbs or to their hometown to save money are looking to grab the best rental properties available while the rents are low due to pandemics. Similarly, there shall be a significant jump in the packers and movers services, painting and cleaning services. All in all the local businesses should be prepared and looking forward to this," Janardan Tiwari, co-founder at DataTrained, said.
Anil Agarwal, founder & CEO, InCruiter, said that pandemic has led to a severe crisis in the local economy which increased with work-from-home opportunities provided to employees all over the country. Though work from home scenario acted as a boon for many who could return back to their hometown and could save on daily costs but it led to a great setback for the local vendors who suffered immensely due to almost negligible work opportunities.
"Fortunately, the decision to resume offices has brought a ray of hope and relief to the local vendors, daily wage labourers, paying guest houses, and so on. This decision will definitely help in reviving the local economy as many employment opportunities will be available for local vendors," he said.
A hybrid approach is basically when employees can work from home as well as in the office on some days. As of now work from anywhere will not be possible and employees will have to return to the location for which they were hired.