TIRUCHY: It has been a hectic week for Karumandapam-resident Suhasini. She has been running around, packing her bag to relocate to Chennai, as she very recently received a message from office, telling her to come back and start working from office. Since May 2020, the native of Tiruchy had been at her hometown and is now all set to report to work at an IT company, like so many others, on March 3.
While several corporate firms had asked employees to get back to office last year itself, IT companies like TCS, Infosys and Cognizant, continued to offer the work from home option. Even now, some of the major IT companies are planning to follow a hybrid model (work from home for a few days and then from office for a few days).
Work from home began for most employees in March 2020, when the first Covid-19 lockdown was announced. A majority of workers, especially in the service sector, reported to their office by the end of 2020.
Employees who were asked to continue working from home decided to move to their hometown, to save rent, and spend time with their family. Several people working in Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and other parts of the country, moved to their native places such as Tiruchy, Pudukkottai, Thanjavur over the past two years. As the second wave extended the work from home option, their stay got longer. Some had to move back once schools for children reopened, especially older kids. Now, everyone has to move back, as most companies want their employees to be present at their 'base location' by April.
"I moved to my parents' house in Pudukkottai in June 2020. We initially thought work from home would be around only for a few weeks. After the second wave, we were sure that we wouldn't be called back till 2021-end. Due to Omicron, that got delayed. Since there was no point in paying rent, we vacated our house in Chennai in 2020 end and brought home all our furniture and things too. Now, we have to look for a house again," says Rohit, an IT employee.
A HR manager in an IT company in Chennai said they were planning to stagger the return-to-office model.
"We do want employees to be back at their office location in the beginning of March. We will initially ask them to report to work twice a week. If some employees can't return for the moment, we are willing to extend the work from home option for them," the manager said.
Getting back to office is likely to be difficult for many, considering that they have been working from the comforts of their home for several months.
"Most companies are performing much better than before. Work from home has worked wonders for everyone. We also get to spend so much time at home. Our performance has also improved. I don't see the tearing hurry to ask us get back to office," says Mohan, who is moving back to Bengaluru from Thanjavur.
However, some persons are happy to go back, as they missed the bonhomie at workplace.
"It is boring to keep staring at a computer screen the entire day. We are missing out on face-to-face interactions. I miss the tea breaks with my friends and all those endless discussions," says Divya, who is moving from Tiruchy to Chennai.