BENGALURU: The new normal in work culture is here and, in all likelihood, it will stay for at least some time to come. Looking ahead, companies are considering a hybrid-model with smaller operations outside the state capital while retaining their major operations in Bengaluru.
Many firms are exploring co-working spaces in other cities and towns outside Bengaluru even as they await the task force report, which is expected next week. This is in line with the government’s push to take IT/BT firms to other cities and towns in the state as part of its strategy to decongest Bengaluru and develop other cities.
Though past governments have been stressing on setting up IT companies outside Bengaluru, there has not been much success. The latest initiative by the Yediyurappa government — Beyond Bengaluru — which was launched in November 2020, focuses on building an innovation and technology ecosystem.
A senior official from the IT-BT Department told TNIE that after they launched ‘Beyond Bengaluru’, they are in talks with a few companies that have shown interest in the hybrid model — a blend of offline and online working. While some employees will work from offices with physical presence, others will work outside Bengaluru — it could be from home or small work stations/co-working spaces, depending on number of employees.
‘Better infra outside B’luru must to attract IT firms’
But some companies feel they would rather wait for the task force report. The five-member task force includes Prof S Sadagopan, former Director of IIIT-Bangalore, B V Naidu, former director, Software Technology Parks of India, Sridhar Mitta, founder of NextWealth Entrepreneurs, Prashanth Prakash, Founding Partner, Accel India, and K S Viswanathan, vice-president of industry initiatives at NA SSCOM. The committee has interacted with various stakeholders across the state, studying the local eco-system.
“Companies are waiting for the report to see how their recommendations have been considered. We do not know how much of it can be implemented in the short term or in the long term,’’ the official said. However, sounding cautious, the director of a two-year-old startup in Bengaluru, who did not wish to be named, said there are many issues, including internet connectivity and power supply, that matter for start-ups to function outside Bengaluru.
“At present, we are all working from home and are connected using technology. What we were offered is incentives for buying land, but we need more focus on technology,’’ he stressed. V Balakrishnan, former Chief Financial Officer, Infosys, pointed out that Bengaluru is a cosmopolitan city and people who come to the city for work also look at the ecosystem — be it the night life, malls and pubs or health care and better education. “Just setting up companies outside Bengaluru will not make employees shift their base. Similar ecosystems have to be provided there too,’’ he argued.
While experts stress the need for IT companies to move out of Bengaluru, they have also called for creating better facilities outside. Industry veteran Mohandas Pai said the ‘Beyond Bengaluru’ concept is not new and earlier too, the government was pushing to take the IT industry to tier-II and tier-III cities. Just by giving tax exemptions or incentives, it will not really happen he felt.
Pai pointed out that unless the government provides better education and health care facilities, employees will hesitate to move out of Bengaluru. “The facilities an employee gets in Bengaluru should also be made available in other cities, otherwise companies will not move out. In many cases, IT companies outside Bengaluru do not get support from the local urban bodies,’’ he noted.
With Bengaluru having reached a threshold, traffic snarls are a common occurrence along many stretches, prompting some companies to shift base to Hyderabad and Pune over the last three years. “I personally want ‘Beyond Bengaluru’ to materialise, provided all facilities are provided in smaller cities and make employee and employer-friendly,” Pai added.
Karnataka still preferred destination
Deputy Chief Minister and IT-BT Minister Dr C N Ashwath Narayan said 86 new companies registering in two years in Karnataka despite the economic slowdown and Covid is a good sign. “Karnataka was and is a preferred destination for the IT sector. Covid came as blessing in disguise as employers could think of setting up facilities outside Bengaluru after they adopted the Work from Home or Work from
Anywhere concept. The gap between virtual and real world is small. Information technology is an integral part of any sector — transport, health, agriculture and even governance,” he said.
- 12.15L people directly working in various IT/BT and ITeS firms in Bengaluru
- 80,000 people working in IT/BT companies outside Bengaluru, including Mysuru, Mangaluru, Hubballi-Dharwad, Shivamogga, Kalaburgi and Belagavi
- Around 5L jobs estimated outside Bengaluru by 2025