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To Hold On Or Let Go The Office? Conundrum Of Start-Ups & MNCs In India

The office spaces of MNCs traditionally, have their own vitality. In addition to creating a space to connect & collaborate, companies invest in office spaces that reflect their brand, provide premium employee amenities, create a smart building experience and setup IT infrastructure for data security.

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COVID-19 has forced companies to overcome inhibitions and embrace Work From Home. Companies that never had a WFH policy, today are accustomed to remote working without feeling lost. This WFH experiment has increased uncertainty among corporates about the need for physical offices. Companies are unsure if WFH can be forever, if it can reduce office infra costs, attract & retain quality talent, reduce the cost of employee commute and allow employees to work out of hometowns owing to low rentals in tier 2 cities. To further add to the uncertainty, companies are unsure of when they could return to their offices in full capacity, could it be Dec’20 or could it go beyond Mar’21. So, considering all of this, should they keep their office space or just let go? 

The answer to this is not quite simple. The office spaces of MNCs traditionally, have their own vitality. In addition to creating a space to connect & collaborate, companies invest in office spaces that reflect their brand, provide premium employee amenities, create a smart building experience and setup IT infrastructure for data security. Further, IT Industry which is the largest consumer of office space in India did not have a significant impact due to pandemic. There has been an increase in off-shoring which in-turn had a positive impact on hiring trend. Joining dates of most of the campus recruits are being adhered and companies are willing to hire from campuses next year too. So, MNCs & IT majors are not thinking to let go their office space completely but to cut costs. They are looking at solutions that offer flexibility, provide a safer work environment without compromising on data security. They are adopting a wait and watch approach and are simultaneously predicting business growth and future office space requirement on back of their minds. 

On the other hand, the Start-up ecosystem in India has a heterogenous crowd and a cross functional set up. More than just completing the tasks, they face diverse challenges everyday due to their business dynamics and need cross functional collaboration in addition to brain storming sessions. Such businesses are finding it difficult to cope with WFH culture for a prolonged period. Many of our own clients whose businesses and clients are based in India are craving to come back to offices once the situation normalises. 

Compared to their offshore counterparts, Indian firms are very different. The employee base differs in terms of salary structure, competency and education profile. Large part of employees are from tier 3, tier 4 colleges & have migrated to cities. They stay in PGs and share homes with large families. So, situation in India is very different from that of US and it is not wise to copy paste situations and work culture of US companies to India. I personally feel that Indian IT companies and startups will take the lead in getting back to offices as many of their employees are accustomed to using a host of office amenities and services. So, in the days to come, we are bound to see some decoupling between Indian and US firms with respect to WFH culture, its scale and its adherence.

The office space is here to stay, the only question is from when.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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mncs startup business sense WFH policy COVID-19

Rishi Das

Co-Founder of IndiQube

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