WFH flattening socio-economic curve by creating buoyancy in rural India: Cisco

Mini Tejaswi Bengaluru | Updated on October 30, 2020

Daisy Chittilapilly, M D, Digital Transformation Office, Cisco India

An affluent segment that has migrated from cities is creating jobs in rural areas

The pandemic-triggered work-from-home model has been flattening the socio-economic curve through wealth distribution and job creation in small towns and villages, and thuscontributing greatly to the growth of the rural economy of India, says Cisco India.

Rural markets are suddenly spotting a new customer segment, migrated from urban cities, who are able to spend much higher than the locals there. Not just the spending power and the consumption, they are also able to create some local jobs by hiring drivers, domestic help, painters, plumbers, electricians, gardeners, utility and essential services, etc.

Daisy Chittilapilly, Managing Director, Digital Transformation Office, Cisco, India, told BusinessLine that there has been a lot of talks around WFH's impact on the environment, but we must also see the impact it is having on the country's rural economy as a whole after thousands of well-earning professionals moved to their hometowns, as part of the new work regime, and thus collectively creating some kind of economic buoyancy across rural India.

For instance, Cisco currently has over 13,000 employees in India who used to work from less than 10 locations before the pandemic and are now spread across 108 locations.

Similarly, millions of professionals employed by hundreds of enterprises have made a conscious decision to return to their homes and work from there, greatly contributing to ‘flattening of the curve.'

“WFH has been leading to the flattening of wealth distribution and job creation; until the pandemic, it was mostly a metro or urban scenario and small towns and cities were not directly part of this growth wave,”' she pointed out.

Aspirational value

Obviously, the aspirations — the urban sprawls, lifestyle, better job options — are what attracted millions of rural folks to urban India. “But if we can get people to access the four basics — education, healthcare, food and livelihood — I don't think they want to come to cities. It is purely aspirational, and that is typically the concern about getting a better education for their children, better opportunities for themselves and better healthcare for parents and themselves. If our small towns are well equipped, we will see a large number of people vacating big cities.”'

Commenting on the longevity of remote working in the country, she said, almost 75 per cent of Indian CFOs are on record, saying that they're going to look at WFH as a way to depress their operating costs. Cisco traditionally has been an 85 per cent + WFH-enabled enterprise and, therefore, it didn't have to specially get ready for Covid-19. Between 2012 and 2017, the company consolidated its real estate, closing down 239 buildings worldwide and saving almost half a billion dollars a year.

Hybrid mode

“We believe the world post-Covid-19 will settle into a hybrid mode. As per our own internal studies, and what we can see from some early research that's happening externally, there will be some aberrations to it, who are announcing much larger work from home. But if you take an average across all industries, about 65 per cent of companies settle into hybrid mode.”'

But again, India has a go-to-work culture, and a lot of us naturally go to work. The social aspect of work is something that all of us miss. Overall, there's research there, community innovation, community learning and community contribution. “Human beings get energy from each other. So, I don't think we'll go back to either extreme after the pandemic,”' Chittilapilly further said.

Published on October 31, 2020

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