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India’s tech workforce braces for hybrid work

A Nasscom study reveals that India’s tech workers and their employers are planning to return to offices thrice a week, paving the way for hybrid work

India’s technology workers and their employers expect to return the workplace for up to three days a week next year as the hybrid work model catches on in the subcontinent, a study has found.

According to the study commissioned by India’s National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) involving more than 6,000 employees in the country’s technology industry, younger workers under the age of 40 want a sooner return to workplace as compared to their older colleagues.

Even though many Indian technology workers enjoy higher productivity, flexible work timings, and better communication with supervisors while working remotely, they also yearn for better infrastructure, social bonding with peers, and fewer distractions in the workplace.

“With the Covid-19 wave receding, many employees and organisations are looking at returning to the workplace,” said Nasscom president Debjani Ghosh in a report on the survey, which was conducted by Indeed.com, an employment website.

“The report consolidates the perspectives of employees and employers to assess how and when organisations are likely to return to the workplace. Further the report evaluates the key imperatives of return to the workplace, and the timelines,” she added.

Indian employers are also paving the way for a return to the workplace. About 60% of organisations are ready to re-open their office spaces by January 2022, with IT and physical infrastructure in place to support entry scanning and digital asset security, among other operational requirements.

For employers, the top three considerations for a return to workplaces are maintaining organisational culture, cyber security, and managing critical business functions. Employee health and safety is also paramount, voiced by over 81% of respondents.

In prioritising which groups of employees will be the first to return to the workplace, Indian technology firms are considering factors such as data security, stakeholder preferences and employee vaccination status.

According to the study, about 72% of organisations are looking at having up to 50% of their workforce in the office as part of their hybrid work plans. Led by IT services firms, those that have over 1,000 employees are also more likely to adopt the hybrid work model (83%) as compared to the tech industry average of 70%.

To get employees up to speed with hybrid work, Nasscom advised employers to actively communicate with employees on the need and merits of returning to the workplace and to manage employee expectations.

They should also actively invest in training managers and supervisors to lead teams in a distributed setup, and re-skill the workforce to leverage technology for efficient virtual collaboration, Nasscom noted in its report.

Sashi Kumar, head of sales for India at Indeed.com, said the pandemic has been a “crash course” in the pros and cons of remote work, driving companies and workers towards a hybrid model that will define the future of work.

Though empowered to work remotely, Kumar said employers and employees also understand that leaving behind the pandemic will necessitate new processes, approaches and mindsets to work.

“It will necessitate a hybrid work paradigm that gives employees a space to collaborate and co-create, while empowering them with more bandwidth for their personal responsibilities,” said Kumar.

A separate study by real estate company Colliers and Propstack, a commercial property information provider, revealed that the demand for commercial real estate in India is recovering, led by companies in the technology hub of Bengaluru and the financial sector.

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