Offices 2.0 await employees this year; companies prefer adopting hybrid work model

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January 24, 2021 5:00 AM

At Flipkart, a bunch of employees who are not being able to work optimally from home have been permitted to come to the office.

Most of the staff will continue working from home till May, said a company spokesperson.Most of the staff will continue working from home till May, said a company spokesperson.

Even as offices reopen, getting back to work will not be the same. The crowded meetings and huddling in the cafeteria for gossip will have to wait for sometime. Instead, as employees start working from offices in the new normal, they will be greeted by sanitation booths and safety booklets. In fact, pre-booking your desk to avoid crowding may well be the norm.

Companies FE spoke with said while they were keen on bringing all their staff back to offices, they prefer adopting a hybrid work model for now.

Employees of Deloitte India can attend the workplace on a ‘need basis’ but they have been mandated to book their desks through an app before stepping into the office. SV Nathan, chief talent officer, says this helps in allocating workstations while maintaining social distancing and also determining the amount of office space that needs to be operational on any given day. While activating the Aarogya Setu app before entering the office premises is mandatory, employees have also been instructed to avoid assembling in the cafeteria and meeting rooms. “The reason that work from home continues to be the default mode is that while we follow multiple precautions at the workplace, not all cities have buses, metros and trains available and operational,” Nathan says.

“Majority of our people rely on public transport. Also, commuting involves high risk unless you use your own car or cab,” Nathan says.

Mumbai-based EuroKids International is operating at 40% strength. Desks and chairs have been labelled to ensure that there is no swapping and employees have been advised to eat at their desks. Rostering at work has been extended to all housekeeping and support staff besides full time employees, says co-founder and group CEO Prajodh Rajan. To enable a graded return to work, the company has implemented a hybrid work model wherein teams attend office on certain days and work from their homes on the remaining days. “A lot of people want to break the work from home-led monotony,” says Rajan. The regional offices of the firm are, however, shut.

At Flipkart, a bunch of employees who are not being able to work optimally from home have been permitted to come to the office. However, they need to book their seats prior to visiting the office campus. Most of the staff will continue working from home till May, said a company spokesperson.

Beam Suntory has divided the employee strength into weekly rosters to ensure limited occupancy, with Fridays being universal work from home for all. The company, however, is following a voluntary opt-in policy currently that allows only those employees to come to the office who are comfortable with the idea and also do not rely on public transportation. The firm has installed sanitiser stations at various spots and allocated special roster seats to employees. In common areas such as the cafeteria and washrooms, special markings have been made to ensure a six-feet distance between people at all times, says human resources director Sayan Chatterjee.

Marico has reconfigured cafeteria and seating spaces to maintain social distancing. Members are required to wear face masks at all times within office premises and occupy not more than 50% of the original capacity of meeting rooms. “Our members will have the liberty to choose the rotations with which they would like to work from the office, and we aim to continue this further in the coming year. We believe that by offering our members the flexibility in work, we would be able to offset the fatigue that has started to arise while working from home on a prolonged basis,” says chief human resources officer Amit Prakash.

Co-working firm WeWork claims to be providing access to a safe, hygienic and secure working environment, at various pricing models to cater to its diverse set of members. Apart from the mandatory temperature screening and wearing of masks, the work spaces are also installed with hand sanitiser dispensers at all high touch point areas, says head of people Priti Shetty.

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