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Blended working model the new way of working – #future of work

In my previous blog in April, “Is Work-from-home (WFH) the future working model for technology companies?” I had highlighted that Indian technology companies have been fast in reacting to the pandemic by making a shift towards working from home in line with their global counterparts.

Indian Technology companies maintain 90% or above level of employees WFH in 1QFY21

In their 1QFY21 results majority IT companies highlighted that over 90% of their employees continue to WFH during the quarter.

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Company

Share of employees working from home as of 1QFY21
Wipro ~97%
Infosys ~99%
HCL ~96%
WNS ~92%
Mphasis ~90%
Tech Mahindra ~95%

Sources: Company Reports

Also, this situation is expected to in the short-term as with majority employees continuing to work remotely as companies are concerned about employee safety and thus are not in a hurry to get all people back to offices soon.

  • During the 1QFY21 results conference call, Milind Lakkad, EVP and Global Head, Human Resources, TCS, said, “We are in no hurry to get our employees to office. We are very conservative in bringing people to work. Our strategy will vary depending on the COVID-19 situation in each country and each city.”

For the same reason IT companies had requested the government to extend the WFH relaxations, which was agreed by the government with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) extending the relaxation in terms and conditions to facilitate work from home till December 31, 2020 (earlier it was allowed till July 31, 2020).

Work Productivity – mixed impact during WFH

According to a Bain survey of over 900 company employees, during April 28, 2020 to May 20, 2020 – more than 50% of the respondents said their productivity either increased was the same during WFH with no commute time and increased ability to focus as the top reasons for the same.

On the other hand, 42% respondents highlighted that the productivity declined with lack of work mindset and dedicated workspace as the key reasons for poor productivity.

Source: Bain and Co.

Gradual return to office important for some employee’s basis client demand and remote working challenges…

  • In a recent round table organized by NASSCOM, it was concluded that the industry is expected to bring back around 15% of their staff to offices in the near-term, which will include employees who are needed for essential roles, and others who have infrastructure-related hurdles in working remotely.
  • Also, companies are analyzing data to related to employee metrics and client demand to decide who comes in and who continues to work from home.
    • We are going to be very focused on data. It will tell us very clearly what the movement of people is. We’ve made a list of projects that we will start calling people out on. Project managers have made their teams and rosters and all the prep work is ready. But we’ll not call everyone on day one just because the government has allowed it. We will take a gradual approach.” Jagdish Mitra, chief strategy officer and head of growth at Tech Mahindra
    • “We have carefully selected people from projects where clients were very reluctant about working from home. We are not in a hurry to get people back. And when people have come back, they’re sharing their experiences and it’s been positive. They talk about our safety measures. We’ve used data, looked at clients who, once things become better, want people to work in office. And rather than doing it in one shot, we wanted to start bringing them in and acclimatize them over time.” UB Pravin Rao, chief operating officer, Infosys, and chairman of Nasscom

… with WFH expected to remain a critical part of future Business Continuity Plan (BCP)…

  • One thing that clearly came out from the current situation is that work-from-home could be a crucial part of the business continuity plan (BCP), especially in a global pandemic like situations (which could reoccur as we open international borders). Consequently, most of the service providers with offshore delivery centers are already asking their clients for work-from-home (WFH) waivers in their contracts.

 

 

….Blended working model with a WFH component will emerge as the future of work model

This current success of managing work-from-home seems to be disrupting the future of work with companies making a shift towards a blended model, which will have a component of WFH.

  • Infosys is looking at allowing at least a third of its workforce to work remotely over a period of time.
  • Tech Mahindra also announced that eventually it will have 25% – 30% of its employees working from home permanently.
  • HCL Technologies is also exploring the option of making WFH a permanent feature and roughly 50% of its employees would work from home in the next 12-18 months as part of its operating model.
  • A recent blog by Sindhu Gangadharan, SVP & MD, SAP Labs India, “Washing machine moment for the IT /ITes Industry?”, stated that 48% of the participants will likely work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19 versus 30% before the pandemic.

This trend is not only for Indian companies but global companies are also making similar changes:

  • Earlier this month, Germany-based Siemens (the industrial manufacturing company) announced that its employees may work from wherever they want for two or three days a week. Another strong endorsement of the blended working model coming into force in the newnormal.

Overall, a lot has changed in the post Covid era and it seems the Blended working model with remote work component will be one big change which will stay virus no virus.

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