Bye home!: End of remote work era as tech companies make work from office mandatory
Top IT firms like TCS, Infosys and Wipro gradually calling back their employees to office
BENGALURU : During the pandemic, work from home (WFH) had become the norm and when Covid restrictions eased over the years, IT companies and start-ups have been brainstorming on the hybrid model and how it can increase employees’ productivity.
Now, companies are making it mandatory for employees to work from office (WFO), signalling the end of the remote working era.
After working from home for nearly four years, the majority of Infosys employees will now return to office from November 20 and work thrice a week from office. Last month, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) made it mandatory for its employees to WFO for all five days in a week. The company believes that employees need to come to work so that the new workforce gets integrated with the large workforce of the company.
Since May, Wipro has been encouraging its employees to work from the office any three days of their choice in a week. Nearly 55% of its employees come to the office three days a week.“We have adopted a flexible approach in our policies, keeping the requirements of our clients and employees as our foremost priority. Collaboration and innovation through shared perspectives is the foundation of a high-performing culture,” Wipro told this newspaper in a statement. HCLTech too has asked its employees to WFO thrice a week.
At Sonata Software, return to office roll out has been executed in a phased manner, with mid-managers, senior managers and leadership already in office twice a week. “This cohort constitutes 30% of our workforce. Starting January 2024, the rest of our global workforce, including entry levels and junior management will also work in a hybrid mode, with a minimum of two working days from office,” Balaji Kumar, Chief Human Resources Officer, Sonata Software, said.
Though companies are talking about the hybrid model, will it continue, or like TCS, will all companies make WFO mandatory and put an end to WFH era?
Remote work fades
Anjali Raghuvanshi, Chief People Officer, Randstad India, says the concept of 100% remote jobs is gradually fading out and the Indian workforce has adjusted itself well to working from the office while using the WFH option once or twice a week depending on need or the team-assigned schedule.
According to the Randstad Insights 4-Day Workweek Candidate Pulse Survey 2023, 35% of the respondents do not mind working from the office every day if their company transitioned to a 4-day workweek, and 43% do not mind stretching their day in order to get an additional day off.
“These are some of the cues that organisations need to explore, depending on the nature of their business, and align more with the voice of talent to create a win-win situation where employees are more engaged while in the office and are highly productive,” Raghuvanshi adds.
It is also important to consider that given the current macroeconomic conditions, the workforce might comply with the WFO model, but, once the overall employment market becomes more talent-friendly, they may look out for jobs that offer more flexibility. Hence, organisations must consider all these factors, she adds.
HR experts also believe that WFO allows better learning and development. “A hybrid approach is highly likely to have a positive impact on employees in the IT/IT services sector. Some employees may be more adaptable and willing to return to the office; some may resist the change due to the daily commute to work which may affect work-life balance,” says Anshuman Das, CEO and co-founder, Careernet.
Top executives of the IT companies feel that WFH is not a good idea and all companies in a phased manner will make their employees return to office. While the debate over remote work continues, it has plummeted significantly from its pandemic high. A gradual decline of remote work also reflects the ongoing push from companies to get employees back in the office, says Puneet Arora, Managing Partner, Biz Staffing Comrade.
Organisations should support employees
Meanwhile, Infosys founder Narayana Murthy’s 70-hour workweek suggestion still sparks debates in the industry, especially after IT companies have started calling back their employees.
Joseph Anantharaju, executive vice Chairman, Happiest Minds Technologies, says, most youngsters work more than 40 hours if one includes time spent at office, joining meetings outside of office hours and efforts made on learning and training over weekends.
“We should encourage our youngsters to push themselves to get as much exposure as possible and broaden their vistas as the experience from the first few years of one’s professional life yields learnings that are invaluable for the rest of the career. At the same time companies should be cognizant of challenges faced by employees and provide the necessary help and support to make this a win-win,” he adds.
Raghuvanshi of Randstad India feels that a 70-hour workweek is likely to impact both women and men alike who are either caretakers, new parents, or have additional responsibilities and interests beyond work. “Working for 70 hours a week which requires the employee to log in 11-12 hours a day for 6 consecutive days might lead to severe loss in productivity and happiness at work,” she says adding that as women are more likely to manage major household tasks along with work, the gender representation targets of India Inc. might get further skewed.”