88% of the workforce in India agrees that work-from-home is indeed a good option for them; 69% even concur that their productivity levels have increased while working remotely, according to a survey by SAP Concur, an expense management firm. With the pandemic forcing employees away from workplaces, these statistics are indeed encouraging for most organisations.

While these companies, especially in the IT sector, were still pondering over allowing around 25-30% of critical staff to rejoin workplaces, the Department of Telecom, Government of India, has brought about a massive reform for the tech industry that will facilitate permanent work-from-home (WFH) and/or work-from-anywhere (WFA) for these companies.

The government has eased registration and compliance requirements that prevented companies from adopting WFH and WFA policies. This is in tune with the government’s commitment towards ensuring a conducive work environment for promoting growth.

What benefits will the new reform bring to the table?

For employees – Professionals working in a crowded metro city will save a huge amount of time, energy and money when they don’t have to commute to their workplaces daily. They can work from their own homes or from co-working spaces near their homes and increase their own productivity.

For organisations – Companies can lower infrastructure and operational costs. Instead of a dedicated workplace in an IT park, they can accommodate their employees at various co-working spaces across the cities in close proximity to their residences. They can take this opportunity to boost revenues and engage better with employees; provide them with additional benefits. Organisations will also be able to recruit the best talent from across the country at competitive wages, which earlier was confined to geographies where the C-suite was stationed, in head offices. 

For service providers – These organisations will now have newer opportunities to improve quality of life in the co-working spaces and even in the homes of employees. Companies having expertise in workplace design, facilities management, technology management and food services, like Sodexo, can step in at these spaces.

For the ecosystem – With lower commute on the roads, metros and rails, there will be savings in precious resources and a lower carbon footprint on the environment. This in turn, will signal a sustainable universe and keep people healthier and happier – promoting a better quality of life.

What is the way forward to enable WFA?

Although it was expected that a substantial part of the workforce would gradually shift to WFH and WFA within a few years, the pandemic has accelerated the process, without warning. Employees and organisations are adapting to the process and trying to address the obstacles. But there is still a long way to go. The major challenges are data security and collaboration among employees. Organisations have to work towards reinforcing seamless and engaging work environment in employees’ homes and co-working spaces. They must invest in innovative technological tools, platforms and products that are accessible from any location and are scalable with time to foster learning, collaboration and to monitor productivity. Financial and administrative policies must also be revamped to support WFA.

Complete WFH and WFA for the IT sector is a new concept at present that might also be adopted by other industries with time. The concept might actually turn out to be a boon for all stakeholders; time will tell.

- Rohit Bahety, Country President & CFO, Sodexo India 

November 11, 2020

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