NEW DELHI: An average 13-14 per cent of corporate workforce may permanently work from home - a development that may hit demand for office space slightly, JLL India country head and CEO Ramesh Nair has said.
However, he said, the de-densification of office space by corporates to ensure social distancing between employees may mitigate any adverse impact on office demand due to adoption of work-for-home (WFH) policy.
Nair was speaking at a webinar organised by Workplace Trends India founder Tushar Mittal, who also heads interior design firm SKV on Tuesday.
Sanjeev Mohanty, MD, South Asia, Middle East And North Africa, Levi Strauss and Company, and Shiv Agrawal, MD, ABC Consultants were the two other speakers in the webinar titled "Will work from home be the new normal".
All the three panelist agreed that WFH would gain acceptance in India post COVID-19 and said that the corporates are now including this option in their HR policies.
Nair listed several challenges in proper implementation of WFH during the last two months of lockdown, right from physical infrastructure to internet connectivity to data privacy to employees' productivity to psychological impact on workforce.
Based on a survey done by JLL India, Nair said that an average 13-14 per cent of corporate workforce may permanently work from home post the coronavirus pandemic.
"WFH will definitely vary depending on region, industries, organizations and so on.
JLL did an internal survey with all our employees globally.
5 per cent of the employees said they only want to work from home.
65 per cent of the employees said they would like to work from office as well as home, but we need a good balance.
30 per cent said they only want to work from office, Nair said.
JLL India, a leading property consultant with over Rs 4,000 crore revenue in 2018-19, also did a survey of its corporate clients across various sectors to gauge the mood.
We also asked our corporate clients who occupy nearly 70 million square feet of office space that once things get back to normal, what percentage of your workforce at a given point of time would work from home permanently and the answer we got varies between 4-22 per cent.
So at an average we assume that real estate demand of about 13-14 per cent could get impacted and go to work from home," he said.
Another finding from the survey indicates that 64 per cent respondents who did not have any WFH policy pre-COVID-19, wanted to incorporate that in the future, Nair said.
"Also, compared to pre-covid era, the number of respondents who said they want to work from home for more than two days in a week, actually doubled.
So certainly we will see an uptake in work from home policies," Nair said.
On challenges being faced by employees during this lockdown period, Agrawal said the sudden announcement of lockdown made things more difficult and if companies and employees had got more time to prepare, the result could have been different.
"We need to distinguish between situations like work from home in the lockdown and work from home in a normal situation.
The concept is not new; it's been there since long.
But there is a change in the mindset of management and employers; they are now seeing possibilities and gaining confidence in the concept, Agrawal said in a statement.
Sanjeev Mohanty of Levi Strauss favoured giving employees a choice to work from home.
Employees should be given the choice, whether they want to work from home or they want to work from office.
Work from home will help both employers as well as employees in terms of enhancing productivity as employees will save time of commute.
It will also reduce cost and effort for both," he said.
Mittal of SKV said WFH would not hit demand for modern office spaces.
"We will see a surge in demand for redesigning office spaces to maintain and incorporate statutory guidelines or international standards and practices.
Companies will make changes in their offices depending on their WFH policies," he added.
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