Home » Corporate Trends – Employees free to return to office, or continue to work from home, say top companies
Reference : ET Bureau
Several top companies including Nestle, Coca-Cola, Godrej Consumer, Dabur, Amway and Tata Consumer have decided to allow their employees to choose whether to return to offices or continue working from home for the next couple of months.
This despite more than three-fourths of their employees have been fully vaccinated, the companies said.
Some companies like Tata Steel, GE India and PepsiCo said they are mostly working from home, while others such as Maruti Suzuki, Mercedes-Benz India and ITC are following a roster system.
“Employees can choose to work from office or continue to work for home; it’s their choice,” said Suresh Narayanan, chairman of packaged foods maker Nestle. “For the next couple of months this will be the case, after which we will take a further call.”
Executives of all the dozen companies that ET spoke with said flexibility is being offered for all roles which can be managed from home, excluding sales, manufacturing and other field jobs.
“We are providing our employees the flexibility to work from home even now, irrespective of whether they have been vaccinated one or two doses,” said Sunil Kataria, chief executive of Godrej Consumer Products.
The hesitancy to get the entire workforce back to office is also because of the possibility of a third wave of the pandemic, with peak festive season set to start next month, executives said.
“We don’t want to take any risks whatsoever and hence the most appropriate option is to let employees decide for themselves,” said the HR head of a large, diversified group, requesting not to be named.
A spokesperson for Tata Steel said more than two-thirds of its employees have got their second dose of Covid-19 vaccine, and that the company has rolled out an agile working policy for all the managers where they are offered flexibility to work from home.
“Employees are advised to work from the office only when necessary,” he said. “Also, employees engaged in support functions are encouraged to work from home to the extent possible.”
GE India Technology Centres HR business partner Neerja Bhardwaj said that while 80% of the company employees have taken at least one dose of vaccine and over a half are fully vaccinated, all are currently working from home.
Most companies said employees with at least one dose of vaccine can choose to work from offices and that the workplace can operate at 50% capacity, following directives to reopen workplaces by various state governments.
“Though our offices are currently open, our employees have the liberty to continue to work from home unless work demands or there are genuine issues in working remotely,” said Amway chief executive Anshu Budhraja.
The work-from-home concept was necessitated with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, something that changed the dynamics of work culture, and led to companies working out different models of operating.
“Based on employee insights, we have launched a new policy – ‘work that works’ – with its core being flexibility,” said PepsiCo’s chief HR officer Pavitra Singh.
Many companies that had earlier planned hybrid arrangements for resuming office for employees – such as working out of office by rotation for a few days a week and so on – by the end of the second quarter are revising their plans, citing safety as a core concern despite vaccination.
Tech giants such as Google and TCS have revised the work-from-home option.
Google recently announced that till January 2022, its employees will work from home, citing uncertainty of the pandemic in various parts of the world. It said employees will be given a 30-day heads-up before they are expected to report to offices.
TCS has said only one-fourth of its total workforce will have to go to office in the future and that by 2025, only 25% of its associates will need to work out of offices.
Maruti Suzuki chief information officer Rajesh Uppal said, “For functions that can be managed remotely, we are encouraging people to work from home and follow a roster system.”
This comes even as Covid-19 cases have been steadily declining in the country, and flights and other travel have resumed.
A Dabur spokesperson said reporting to office is not mandatory, even though 90% of its employees have received the first dose of vaccines and 75% are double vaccinated.
Coca-Cola’s vice president, HR, Nishi Kulshreshtha Chaturvedi said remote working remains the default way of operations, and that the beverage maker is currently operating at an occupancy of maximum 20-25% at its headquarters.
Mercedes-Benz has adopted a hybrid model of working starting this month. There is a 50% attendance with employees attending office every alternate day. “Our vaccination drive has met with a very good response from the employees and dealer partners and we will complete the vaccination for almost all our employees by the month end,” Mercedes-Benz India managing director and CEO Martin Schwenk said.
ITC, too, remains in hybrid mode. “Employees who are vaccinated with both doses are attending office at a greater frequency relative to the others,” said Amitav Mukherji, head, corporate human resources, at ITC.