As employees struggle with WFH, IT companies roll out virtual perks

Venkatesh Ganesh Mumbai November 27 | Updated on November 27, 2020

With Covid-19, all that seems to have turned on its head and the majority of the 40 lakh IT workforce are not working out of office spaces

Conduct online music concerts, stand-up comedy sessions, online leisure and wellness programs and other such initiatives to keep their tag of being a cool workplace

Tech majors TCS, Infosys and Genpact are conducting online music concerts, stand-up comedy sessions, online leisure and wellness initiatives, and holding talks by inspirational leaders and mental health experts to keep their tag of being a cool workplace.

Until the Covid-19 pandemic hit the delivery models of tech services, IT companies would showcase amenities such as fully furnished gyms, sports areas, beer bashes, organic meals and other perks.

At that time, the idea seemed to be ― come to the workplace and everything would be taken care of, which could result in improved productivity and better efficiency.

Also read: ‘Indian professionals willing to take salary cuts to work from home permanently’

With Covid-19, all that seems to have turned on its head and the majority of the 40 lakh IT workforce are not working out of office spaces. At the same time, business is growing at a fast clip.

So, with work from home (WFH) and in the absence of the above perks, how are companies managing to get techies to stay focussed and motivated?

On July 2, TCS through its #OneTCS channel hosted a concert of singer Jonita Gandhi.

Milind Lakkad, Global Head, Human Resources, in the September-ended quarter said that it continues to focus on the physical and emotional well-being of its employees. “Our OneTCS channel has hosted inspirational leaders, mental health experts, virtual town halls and global talent hunt competitions, all designed to reduce stress and the feeling of isolation, and to boost morale,” he said. Self-help and counselling services were availed by nearly 8,000 TCS employees in Q2.

Infosys, India’s second-largest software exporter is using virtual reality (VR) technology for new joinees to experience the workplace and interact with colleagues. “We have sessions where teams can get together to maintain a fitness schedule; we provide virtual rooms for collaborative meetings and have substantially increased online leisure and wellness options,” Richard Lobo, Executive Vice President, Head HR, Infosys, told BusinessLine. Recently, Accenture had a ‘speaker series’ with cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle for its employees.

Larsen and Toubro Infotech (LTI) has a 5-5-5 initiative, wherein its leaders connect with 5 employees at 5pm on a Friday evening to discuss non-work-related issues that team members may be facing and provide organisation support wherever needed, a spokesperson said. “Companies are regularly conducting motivation or stand-up comedy sessions to help people relax,” according to Ravish Agrawal, cofounder and CEO, Able Jobs. Additionally, in Q2, almost all companies said that wage hikes will be effective immediately or from January 2021.

Also read: Work from home in the West boost India’s coir exports

Many in the industry believe that the way forward could either be a hybrid work model where a percentage of employees work remotely, or come to work on selective days, or even work completely remotely.

Tiger Tyagarajan, Genpact’s president and CEO, is of the view that the future of tech companies depends on how effective they would be in taking the job to the workforce, rather than making them come to work. “We are not going back to the era wherein all employees will be required to work from physical offices at all times,” said Rajeev Ahuja, President at NYSE-listed Startek.

Some in the industry say sales and marketing personnel find the going tough when it comes to acquiring new clients. “With an existing client, getting extra business is happening due to familiarity. That is not the case with a new customer,” said Harish HV, Managing Partner ECube Investment Advisors.

Published on November 27, 2020

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