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India Inc. Now More Comfortable Returning to Physical Office Spaces: InterMiles

WFH continues to elicit a mixed response from Indian employees, with one end of the spectrum enjoying saved travel time and increased family time, even as the other end laments the lack of separation between personal and professional spheres. A survey conducted by loyalty and rewards programme, InterMiles, shows that time spent by Indians on work and business increased by a stupendous 46%, suggesting decreased work-life balance. With physical offices shut, video calls and messaging apps saw a 76% increase in member engagement.

 As confidence in travel surges with the roll-out of vaccines and heightened sanitation measures, India Inc. is gearing up to return to physical office spaces. The survey states that 56% of the respondents are comfortable visiting their office for work. This can be attributed to increased comfort levels when it comes to meeting familiar, trusted individuals including family, friends and colleagues.

 Hybrid working models are the future

 ‘Work-from-home’ and ‘work-from-anywhere’ models have been some of the most notable by-products of the Covid-19 pandemic. HR Tech is at the heart of this transformation process, that has vast digital and cultural implications. Given that work-from-office is no longer the norm, companies are now more open to hiring freelance / contractual employees from across the globe, with no restrictions on residence or base city. Businesses have greatly heightened the implementation of technologies that enable virtual employee interaction and collaboration, as well as automation,” said Nayela Mulla, Head – Human Resources, InterMiles.

While organizations have become accustomed to the WFH model, they also realize the need for face time amongst employees and clients, to promote better interpersonal relationships and establish team camaraderie. This has birthed hybrid models across various sectors, with employees working in a staggered format and alternation between WFH and WFO. From an HR perspective, this shift is massive and significant, and requires the assistance of technology as well as structural changes. For instance, offices need to be redesigned to create more space for collaboration; this possibly means more meeting rooms and break out areas.

“Human resources need to be able to not only explore the wide range of AI solutions available but also design a process that complements technology to suit the requirement of the workforce. Since the future is nothing short of ambiguous, human resource teams must be well-equipped to change course quickly to adapt to diverse situations that may arise. Today, HR needs to be able to be prompt in anticipating changes and co-creating multiple scenarios in planning the future and for business continuity,” she continued.

With the intention of understanding evolved employee priorities in 2021, InterMiles – a leading loyalty and rewards programme, asked key questions to more than 11,500 InterMilers across India. Responses were benchmarked against behaviour displayed pre-pandemic, so as to showcase a pandemic-induced pivot.