Work from home: Many IT professionals return from other states to Kerala

Economists feel that if WFH becomes norm and many mid-to senior-level professionals decide to settle down in Kerala, it will have a multiplier effect on the state economy.
Image used for representational purpose only (Express Illustration)
Image used for representational purpose only (Express Illustration)

KOCHI: For Madhu Krishnan, a senior software engineer with American multinational Intel, the work-from-home (WFH) option has helped him realise his dream of settling down in his hometown of Thrissur. And he has been able to do it mid-career without having to quit his job.

"With the COVID spread and the lockdown, my children are also happy to be at our home and its surroundings in Kerala rather than being confined to an apartment in Bengaluru. When you are 45-50, it's always a concern that your parents are alone at home as they are in their late 70s. The WFH option has helped me return to my parents. I have also enrolled my children in schools here. Surprisingly, the kids are also liking it here though they had some reservations earlier," he said.  

As the second wave intensifies, the WFH option has given Kerala an immense opportunity to woo hundreds of its professionals working in different parts of the country to settle down in their home state.  A senior executive with TCS in Infopark, Kochi, told The New Indian Express that some of his colleagues have moved to companies like Deloitte, Cisco and Ernst & Young with good salary packages.

"Earlier, it was unthinkable for mid- to senior-level employees, especially those in analytics and insights, robotics, cloud, mobile interactive, AI etc., to get an opportunity to work in Kerala in senior positions as most big global corporations have no presence here. The WFH option has completely changed the scenario," he said.

Recently, IBM, in a post via LinkedIn, invited applicants for Kochi, triggering speculations that the US multinational was planning to set up operations in Kerala. Sources said these vacancies could be for WFH options as it would take a longer time to set up an office in Kochi given the COVID spread.

A mail sent to the IBM spokesperson on Thursday is yet to elicit a response. Jackfruit365 founder James Joseph, who - as director of Microsoft - worked from his home in Aluva, said the new WFH openings may be available only for experienced mid to senior-level professionals.

"This is because they don’t need to be trained," said Joseph, who narrated the benefits of WFH around seven years ago through his bestselling book 'God's Own Office'. 

Kerala, which has managed to control COVID spread much better than other states even in the second wave, could also attract professionals preferring WFH on a long-term basis. "If WFH is here to stay, it’s a big opportunity for Kerala," he said.

Krishnan, of Intel, said he knows another software engineer who returned home for delivery from Chennai, where she works. "She was worried about going back to Chennai because of the Covid spread. But her company has now allowed her to work from home in Kerala," he said.

Augustine Joseph, a Bengaluru-based senior software engineer with a Japanese multinational, has been working from his home near Adimali for the past 6 months. He said a big problem with WFH is the missing social connect.  "Once COVID threat is over, people may want to return to big cities as there are facilities for recreation and outing, like shopping malls or cinemas," he said.

He pointed out another aspect of WFH. "You always feel connected, and there’s a feeling that you are needed by the company for one job or the other always. In a work-from-office environment, you are disconnected the moment you step out after duty hours," he said.

Economists have said, if WFH becomes the norm and many mid to senior-level professionals decide to settle down in Kerala, the development will have a multiplier effect on the state economy as the money earned will be spent locally.

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The New Indian Express