Companies

Start-ups embrace 100% WFH, hybrid models in the new normal

Sangeetha Chengappa Bengaluru | Updated on November 08, 2020 Published on November 08, 2020

Most have seen spike in productivity, besides benefiting from cost savings

Global data solutions firm PromptCloud, which moved into a plush new 6,000 sq ft office in Bengaluru’s upmarket locality Indiranagar four months before Covid-19 struck, has transformed into a 100 per cent remote working company. A bold pivot, considering that prior to March 2020, the company had no work-from-home policy, as it strongly believed that the team’s presence in office is critical to creativity and quality output.

In the last few months, PromptCloud has seen employee productivity rise by over 20 per cent. Customer feedback and NPS scores are also on the rise and the service resolution TAT (turnaround time) has improved by 20 per cent. The company has given out a one-time furniture allowance to all its 85 employees and also reimburses monthly Internet bills to ensure stable connectivity.

“We were just blindly following others – tracking work by time, considering presence in office as the major contribution to one’s work and setting 9-hour workdays that added pressure to the already stressed environment. Going remote has made us more productive due to zero commute time, lesser distractions along with better quality of life and more time with families. Fifteen of our employees were virtually hired and onboarded during the lockdown and we plan to double our headcount in the next 12 months,” said Arpan Jha, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer, PromptCloud, which has 150 enterprise customers including Unilever, McKinsey and Workday.

Edtech start-up Testbook’s 520 employees have all been working remotely since the lockdown and will continue doing so till December end. Its productivity shot up by 26 per cent in the first month after the lockdown, and the start-up has acquired 19 lakh new users. It has also grown its revenue by 160 per cent in the last 6 months. “We pivoted to WFH very quickly because we already followed a WFH policy of 2-3 days a month. But we faced a major challenge in recruiting and training, which is done in our offices. It took one month for us to be able to do it virtually. We hired 238 employees during the lockdown,” said Ashutosh Kumar, co-founder and CEO of Testbook.

Security and big data analytics solutions start-up Staqu Technologies has seen productivity increase 5X with its 50 plus workforce working remotely since mid-March. The team will continue to work from home in the near future, says its co-founder and CEO, Atul Rai. Digital audio platform Khabri’s 30-plus employees, whose productivity has shot up by 30 per cent, will continue to WFH even when things normalise.

Hybrid model

“Covid-19 provided a lot of structure to our daily work, and therefore, we delivered better results. At present, 60 per cent of our team is working from home and HR is developing a hybrid model of two days in office and three days WFH, which we will follow when things normalise. We were able to recruit quality talent, especially in Mumbai and Bengaluru where office commutes are killing,” said Avinash Godkhindi, CEO and MD of fintech start-up Zaggle which serves over 4,000 enterprise and mid-size businesses. Zaggle saw a 30 per cent boost in employee productivity in the last six months as it swung into WFH mode within 30 days of the lockdown. The start-up virtually hired 15 per cent of its 200-strong team during the lockdown to support the growing demand for its solutions and also expanded to Canada with a new office in Toronto.

All 75 employees of agritech start-up Agri10X had to swiftly adopt a hybrid work model of two days in office and three days of WFH soon after the lockdown because it fell under the ‘essentials category.’ “To our surprise, we witnessed a big spike in productivity and execution levels of our employees across departments. We will continue with this hybrid model for all our existing employees and the 110 new employees we plan to hire,” said Pankajj Ghode, co-founder and CEO, Agri10x.

“The pandemic has created opportunities for start-ups to leverage technology, and create products/environments to increase the efficiency of working remotely. No commuting and fewer coffee breaks have resulted in enhanced productivity. WFH does away with one of the biggest expenses of owning or renting an office space for start-ups. The new normal is likely to see a very productive hybrid or complete WFH model. Of course, to sustain productivity in these VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) times such start-ups will also need to take additional steps to ensure the overall health and well-being of their employees,” said Jyoti Bowen Nath, Managing Partner at Claricent Partners, an executive search and advisory services firm.

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Published on November 08, 2020
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