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The Future of Flexible Work In India

Published on: August 31, 2022

Authors: Dilpreet Singh

Topics: India

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted workforces and work-arrangements around the world – and India is no exception.  Urban workers relocated to village homes to find stable housing and food security through farming – a decision many are not likely to reverse.

For many employers in India, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an intense period of adjustment and adaption to accommodate for an increasing desire by employees to find alternatives to the traditional “Nine to Five” business model.   

Indian President Modi, in comments made on August 25, according to a report in Reuters, addressed the issue specifically, encouraging companies to offer flexible work schedules in order to encourage women to join or re-join the workforce.

Indian companies are already making unprecedentedly aggressive efforts to lure people back. For example, some Indian companies have started meeting folks who migrated to more rural locations at those locations instead of requiring them to move to cities.  Economists, concerned for the wider impact on the macro-economy on the other hand, are hoping that people do make their way back to cities where local economies rely on their spending.  

Still, other companies have mandated their senior management and human resources work from offices. A recent study by PwC’s India titled “Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022”, indicated the clear shift to hybrid work is expected to continue. In India, 81% of employees believe their jobs can be done remotely. Additionally, survey findings state 31% of those who can work remotely are already doing so in a hybrid way.

HRPI View: The pandemic is not over but people and society have made changes to accommodate for COVID-19’s seemingly perpetual existence.  The way companies respond to the question of remote vs. hybrid vs. in-office work will have long-term ramifications on not only their workers, but the economy and society at large. 

While many firms have given workers flexibility, particularly with work-from-anywhere policies, there is a need to up the communication with employees to get a message across on how employees can learn from one another, how interpersonal relationships matter, how companies build culture, and how the firm can adapt faster to dynamic market changes only when they are physically in office. India is really struggling with skills and skills-related redundancies is a real challenge. A messaging detailing how there are more opportunities for learning and development by working in the office could provide a fertile message for obtaining new talent.

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