The Coronavirus pandemic has changed lifestyles and most importantly the way of working across the globe, as working from home is fast becoming the new normal. This has given birth to what can be called a new hybrid work culture and this kind of workspace has gradually gained acceptance in the last 18 months in several organisations across the country.
To understand the evolving nuances of this concept, NDTV spoke to an array of corporate honchos namely Karan Virwani - CEO of WeWork India, Anandorup Ghose - Partner in Deloitte India, Arjun Vaidyanathan - chief operating officer KPMG in India and Ajay Arora - vice president of strategic planning and projects, Hero Enterprise.
According to Karan Virwani, CEO of WeWork India, hybrid work culture has inculcated a feeling of belongingness among employees, right from the top to the bottom levels.
“It was a new exciting thing initially, but now after almost two years, the perception has changed about the work from home culture both at top level and employee level. To be able to interact with people and exchanging new ideas has made it a completely new experience for everybody. Employees feel that they belong to the organisation and realise that this is a hybrid solution for the future,” said Mr Virwani.
On the challenges of working from hybrid space, he said that it is still early days for this kind of a hybrid culture “as these are untested waters and companies are still evolving their strategies on it. However if one has a young organisation, it is extremely important to be together and this is indeed a challenge. We are facing them now but at the same time we have realised that flexibility is involved in workplaces now”.
On the future of having physical office spaces, Mr Virwani said that how these would be used is the challenge now. To be working in such times when one has to think about how to put the office space to effective use, is the constantly evolving concept.
Mr Ajay Arora, vice president of strategic planning and projects, Hero Enterprise, was of the view that two basic needs of human beings, that is to socialise and travel were badly hit by the lockdown and this gave birth to hybrid work culture.
However, he felt that while flexible working hours work fine for “white collared” workforce, it is the “blue collared” workers who are in majority in India, and the concept does not suit them.
“We are now thinking of white collared people while planning flexible time schedules for them. However India is a nation of blue collared workers who don't have flexible working hours… Also any kind of hybrid work space should also think of giving people space to think, discuss and collaborate, something which is possible in office spaces,” Mr Arora said.
Arjun Vaidyanathan, chief operating officer of KPMG in India felt that for organisations like his, which are into client serving space that requires lots of travelling and meeting clients, the work from home or the hybrid culture has made them realise the need understand what clients want.
“This pandemic has done one thing and that is that work can be done irrespective of place. Earlier the trust factor meant going and seeing if the person is actually there in office, but now the trust factor has gone up for adults and we have been forced to rethink our work strategies,” said Mr Vaidyanathan.
He also stressed on the point that earlier the concept of office was that people with different skill sets used to converge at a particular location to deliver their talent and those set of skills were available in a vicinity of an office space.
“Now it has reversed and those set of skills are now available in different locations but are accessible virtually and an office space is now not required,” Mr Vaidyanathan noted further.
Anandorup Ghose, Partner in Deloitte India, felt that the initial apprehensions about productivity getting affected when the nation-wide lockdown in early 2020 was imposed and people were forced to work from home, has given way to the confidence that irrespective of place, people did their work and trust grew.
At the same time Mr Ghose said that the basic concept of an office space, which meant coming together and sharing thoughts, has suffered.
“If productivity depends on putting in a number of hours and giving ideas, then the concept of an office has suffered. So the verdict is not exactly unanimous on hybrid work space, as the need of an office will always be required. The byproduct of hybrid space is loss of team building, loyalty, confidence building and bonding,” felt Mr Ghose.
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