Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan said that more women can join and rejoin the workforce because of the option to work from home.

TCS looks at 75 workforce working from home by 2025 Will this be new industry normalFlickr/Daniel Davis (CC-BY-SA 2.0)
Money Work from home Monday, April 27, 2020 - 15:06

As part of its earnings announcement for the end of FY20, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) made a revelation that in the future, it believes that it doesn’t need to have more than 25% of its workforce at its offices to have 100% productivity. This would mean that 75% of TCS’ workforce could be working from home by 2025.

TCS Chief Operating Officer (COO) NG Subramaniam said that they call this their 25/25 model, and that they do not need more than 25% of their employees at their facilities to be fully productive. 

In addition, he said that in their experience due to the lockdown, they do not need employees to be present at their offices all the time. “I think it’s sufficient if they spend 25% of their time in our offices,” he said. 

TCS has 4.48 lakh employees worldwide, of which 3.55 lakh are situated in India. 

Many firms had to suddenly adapt to working from home rapidly due to the lockdown. TCS says that it was able to move 90% of its workforce to work from home. According to TCS, this now gives an opportunity to move from a 20-year-old operating model into a new one. 

“We believe that this particular model and way of working, we will be in a position to achieve about 25% improvement in velocity, throughput productivity. This is coupled with our overall machine-first thinking. We also believe that as we go along, 25% of the project team of any project may not locate in one single location,” Subramaniam added.    

The lockdown, according to TCS, has allowed them to accelerate that shift to roll out an operating environment called Secure Borderless Workspaces (SBWS).  

“This is not just about moving the person out from the workspace, office and allowing a desktop or a laptop located in the house to connect. It is about taking the entire elements of the operating model and being able to deploy that into this kind of extended environment,” TCS Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director (MD) Rajesh Gopinathan said.

And not just TCS, Infosys also said during its earnings call that it may be looking at a remote working model as the company’s medium to long term strategy.

Infosys CEO Salil Parekh said that the company was able to move to a remote working model extremely fast and is now looking at how some of these aspects can be part of the company’s medium and long term. However, it will have to be more careful about the security aspect with no lapse there, he added.

Wipro CEO Abidali Neemuchwala too is of a similar opinion. During Wipro’s investor conference call announcing its Q4 results, he said that 93% of Wipro’s employees were approved to work from home and “90% of our employees are actually engaged in delivering projects globally and services to our customers in a work from home mode.”

Terming this the ‘new normal’, Neemuchwala said that it would create new opportunities for them to do more work globally. 

Bhanumurthy BM, the company’s President and COO said that there could be larger opportunities in enabling working from home “depending upon the size of the organization and how ready they are right now.” 

This could lead to a tectonic shift in how companies operate and may signal a shift for a country which has massive tech parks, leading to mushrooming development around the area — houses and other residential options, malls, restaurants and cafes. 

It would also lead to lesser costs for companies, less travel time for employees and could even lead to increased efficiency. However, while it still remains to be seen if current infrastructure will support such a shift, it may also force a time when cybersecurity will have to be strengthened. 

Speaking to TNM, Infosys co-founder and former co-chairman Kris Gopalakrishnan said that for larger companies, 20-30% of their workforce could be working from home after the pandemic ends as it becomes a part of the business continuity plans of companies, he said. 

“What happened this time was that work from home was not really part of companies’ business continuity plan. They had to scramble to move people to WFH, and they faced a lot of challenges there. But, they have surmounted those and moved people to work from home. Larger companies will make sure people are accustomed to this and will have about 20-30% WFH as per my calculation,” he said. 

He added that he now sees more benefits with people working from home — productivity will not be an issue as people will not have to spend time on commute, and can spend longer hours working. 

Kris also echoed the views of many in the IT sector — that women can join and rejoin the workforce (if they left) because of the option to work from home.

When companies had to move employees to work from home, they had to receive permissions from clients to do so. Now, Kris says, as this will now be a part of the standard operating procedure, clients have accepted it, and need it too.

NASSCOM President Debjani Ghosh said on Twitter that blended work models are here to stay. “3 points on the future of work in tech: Blended work models r here to stay. The Gig Economy will become a key part of the workforce. #WFH will improve the gender gap in the industry. And, all of this will force a major rethink of HR and employment policies,” she said. 

Work from home roles will open more roles for women too, she added. 

Former NASSCOM chairman and WNS Group CEO Keshav Murugesh said that this pave the way to a parallel gig economy in India, "where technology enables efficient, remote consultants as an imperative part of the employee force."

"The integration of WFH in the long haul can lead to mainstreaming of a huge untapped workforce across the country. As per estimates, over 120 million Indian women with at least secondary education do not participate in the workforce. This could be the right opportunity to create smart policies to bring them into the ambit. As businesses are turning to digital, this will be a fantastic opportunity to create new and enhanced streams of talent," he added. 

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