In response to the evolving workplace landscape, major IT firms like TCS, Infosys, and Wipro are ushering in a new era by making office attendance mandatory for their employees. During the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work (WFH) became the norm, but now, as pandemic-related restrictions gradually ease, IT companies and startups are rethinking their work models, emphasizing hybrid arrangements to boost productivity.
Infosys, after almost four years of remote work, is having the majority of its employees return to the office three days a week starting from November 20. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) recently mandated a five-day office workweek. This shift is motivated by the desire to integrate the new workforce with the larger corporate community effectively.
Wipro, since May, has been encouraging its employees to work from the office for at least three days a week, with approximately 55% of employees choosing to do so. HCL Technologies has also implemented a three-day in-office workweek policy.
Sonata Software has chosen a phased approach to bringing employees back to the office. Mid-managers, senior managers, and leadership personnel have already returned to the office twice a week, accounting for 30% of the workforce. Starting in January 2024, the remaining global workforce, including entry-level and junior management, will also transition to a hybrid model, requiring a minimum of two office days.
While hybrid work models are being discussed, the question remains: will more companies follow TCS’s lead and make office attendance mandatory, spelling the end of the remote work era?
Remote Work Diminishes: Anjali Raghuvanshi, Chief People Officer at Randstad India, notes that the concept of 100% remote jobs is gradually fading as the Indian workforce adapts to working from the office while using the WFH option once or twice a week, depending on their needs or team-assigned schedules.
According to the Randstad Insights 4-Day Workweek Candidate Pulse Survey 2023, 35% of respondents are open to working from the office every day if their company transitions to a four-day workweek. Furthermore, 43% are willing to extend their work hours to gain an additional day off.
Organizations must explore these cues and align with the preferences of their employees, creating a situation where employees are more engaged while in the office, resulting in higher productivity, according to Raghuvanshi.
It’s crucial to consider that in the current macroeconomic conditions, employees may comply with the WFO model, but as the employment market becomes more talent-friendly, they may seek jobs offering greater flexibility. Therefore, organizations should take these factors into account.
Better Learning and Development with WFO: HR experts also believe that WFO facilitates 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, while others may resist due to the daily commute’s impact on work-life balance,” says Anshuman Das, CEO and co-founder of Careernet.
Top IT executives argue that WFH is not ideal, and many companies will eventually phase in a return to the office. The debate about remote work has significantly diminished from its pandemic high, reflecting companies’ ongoing efforts to bring employees back to the office.
Supporting Employees: Joseph Anantharaju, Executive Vice Chairman of Happiest Minds Technologies, believes that most youngsters work more than 40 hours, considering their time spent at the office, meetings outside of office hours, and weekend learning and training efforts. He encourages young professionals to gain as much exposure as possible during their early years and suggests that companies offer the necessary help and support to ensure a win-win situation.
Raghuvanshi of Randstad India emphasizes that a 70-hour workweek may affect both women and men, especially those who are caretakers, new parents, or have additional responsibilities beyond work. Such a demanding schedule can lead to a loss of productivity and happiness at work, which could further skew gender representation targets in India Inc.