It’s a catch-22 situation for most companies when it comes to their work policy. While many companies want work-from-office, employees are reluctant to return. However, the companies that offer the flexibility to work from home (WFH) seem to be at an advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.
SaaS unicorn Zoho follows a flexible work policy with managers taking a call depending on the nature of work and the team’s requirement. Zoho believes while it is a mixed bag, there are definite advantages of WFH. “We get to attract talent without being limited to those who can travel the distance or are limited to the specific geographical location. Suddenly, a global workforce becomes available to the recruiter,” said Rajendran Dandapani, director of technology, Zoho, and president at Zoho Schools of Learning.
However, Zoho believes it is important to define what WFH actually is. “Too often, people assume it to be a licence to juggle multiple jobs or complete household chores while also working at a makeshift desk on the kitchen counter. We need to weed these options out, for they tend to give the whole WFH approach a bad image,” added Dandapani.
Australian software company Atlassian, which has 1,400 employees in India out of its total headcount of nearly 9,000, has a distributed work policy that allows employees to choose where they work from: Office, remotely or a combination of the two. “As far as India is concerned, this has opened up Atlassian’s ability to hire from across the country, including those who can’t or don’t want to be in Bengaluru or commute to office every day. In fact, 51% of Indian employees live 2+ hours from office,” a company spokesperson said. Atlassian plans to grow its Indian workforce to over 3,000 by the end of FY24.
“WFH has its benefits like saving in travel costs, rental expenses and creating a favourable work-life balance. Given the dilemma in choosing the ideal working situation, most companies adopted hybrid working models or flexible working arrangements, which became a preferred model among employees in no time. It also helps them optimise their productivity due to flexibility in schedule,” said Sidharth Agarwal, director, Spectrum Talent Management.
To be sure, the decision to allow WFH or call employees back to the office does not lie with the employers alone. “For certain projects, clients need the data to be highly secured and might require the entire team handling the project to work from the office. Employees need to be made aware of all the reasons why they are needed in the office and emphasise the benefits of working from office, if not every day, occasionally,” said Aditya Narayan Mishra, managing director and CEO of CIEL HR Services.
Companies that are calling employees back to the office seem to be facing multiple challenges. For instance, IT major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is reportedly having a hard time getting its millennial workforce back to office. During the pandemic, TCS had announced a 25x25x25 work model, which essentially meant that by 2025, only a quarter of its employees would be required to work from office at any given point and they would spend only a quarter of their time in office. However, the company wants all its employees to return to the office before it transitions to the new model in a phased manner.
Currently, not more than 20% of TCS employees have returned to work from office, according to media reports. “We are moving in a phased manner to get our associates back to office. This is in line with our vision to transition to 25×25 model,” a TCS spokesperson said. McKinsey said in a blog that a “one-size-fits-all” policy does not work and the key lies in the way the message is communicated. “It’s insufficient to say that employees need to return to office for the culture. Rather, leaders should be more specific about why a hybrid working model is needed and how a periodic in-person presence fits into the broader vision and strategy of the organisation,” the blog post stated.