There is plenty of evidence to suggest that real change rarely ever takes place linearly and rather that it is discrete episodes or moments in time that prompt a radical social or cultural overhaul. From the invention of the fuel-based automobile to that of the personal computer, we have seen this play out in recent history on a multitude of occasions.
Over 18 months since the first case of COVID-19 was recovered, countries continue to reel from the relentless spread of the virus. But in the midst of all the chaos that the pandemic has caused, a reimagining of the work culture is transpiring globally.
In a matter of weeks, companies have had to unlearn decades-old work practices, shifting their entire workforces, either to absolute work-from-home models, or hybrid templates. While some companies have found it easier than others, there is a growing sense that the change is likely to persist into the post-pandemic era.
At least this, to some extent, is what the leadership at Tata Consultancy Services, India's largest IT service provider believes. According to a recent report from The Economic Times, TCS has put together a risk assessment model called, Intelligent Urban Exchange to assess how the company could bring in some proportion of their employees back to the workplace.
The model will, reportedly, consider factors like vaccination status, employees' home addresses, risk in the area, and basic health parameters in a quest to ensure that the workplace stays safe and employees remain confident about the same.
TCS, it is worth noting, was one of the first IT companies to adopt a hybrid model after COVID-19 breached India's shores. Since April 2020, around 97 per cent of TCS' 488,649 employees (globally) have been working out of their homes.
The company made announcements that it would bring its employees back in a phased manner and later revealed that it had created a blueprint – Vision 25/25 – to have just 25 per cent of its total workforce in office at any point in time, to be implemented by 2025.
“Our customers are comfortable with this model and want us to take more work that others are not able to handle. This has given us the confidence to come out with a bold new Vision 25/25,” said TCS CEO Rajesh Gopinathan when presenting the company's FY2020 annual report.
As the largest player in the industry, the decisions that TCS makes, undoubtedly, resonate across the sector. In fact, it wasn't long after TCS moved its employees out of the office and into their homes that Infosys and Wipro warmed to the idea. TCS is also not alone in acknowledging that the work-from-home model may be here to stay and that a return to the traditional work culture may even prompt employee backlash.
Twitter and Square, for instance, were among the first in the tech industries to declare that their employees could work remotely forever. Soon after their respective announcements, Facebook also extended its work-from-home policy till July 2021. Later, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg went a step further announcing that he expected, at least, half of all Facebook's employees to end up working remotely by 2030.
Moreover and crucially, as TCS has pointed out, an effort to transition to a hybrid model will also allow it to cast its net wider as far as talent acquisition is concerned, since geographical borders may no longer be a recruitment constraint. A capacity to recruit the best and brightest across the country is not an edge that its competitors are likely to hand it without some resistance, one would think.
|The transformation of work culture isn't likely to happen overnight as new tools and innovations will need to be developed to offset what is lost from a lack of in-person interaction. But it does appear that there is no want of will.
Architects of India's future will define the agenda for growth in this Golden Decade, at the Times Network India Economic Conclave - 25, 26 March | New Delhi. Watch LIVE coverage from the ground on Times Network andar bahar online game channels and www.indiaeconomicconclave.com.