The work-from-honeymoon is drawing to a close at India’s biggest IT services player.
TCS has asked employees to attend office for 5 days a week, an internal communication has said. The new rules will come into effect starting 1st October. TCS currently requires employees to attend office for only three days a week.
“As communicated by CEO and chief human resources officer (CHRO) in various townhalls, it is mandatory for all associates to attend office on all the working days (5 days per week if there are no holidays) starting 1 October 2023,” the internal official mail said.
This is a complete volte face from just three years ago, when TCS had first announced a plan to go remote-first. In April 2020, when the extent of the pandemic had first become clear, TCS had announced something called the 25/25 model, which mandated that only 25% of its staff would work from offices by 2025, and 75% would permanently work from home. “We don’t believe that we need more than 25% of our workforce at our facilities in order to be 100% productive,” TCS’s chief operating officer NG Subramaniam had then said.
But TCS had appeared to dial back on its work-from-home enthusiasm as the pandemic had ebbed away. In 2022, managers had begun nudging employees to start working from offices, and by September, the company had given them an ultimatum — TCS had then asked employees to work from office at least 3 days a week, or face action. “Adherence to (thrice a week) rostering is mandatory and will be tracked… any noncompliance will be taken seriously, and administrative measures may be applied,” TCS had then told employees.
TCS had also indicated in its FY23 annual report that it wanted employees to return to offices. “Without those (in-person) interactions, employee engagement as well as acculturation got badly impacted. All these factors led us to gradually bring back people to our offices during the year,” TCS had said.
TCS now seems to have given up remote work altogether, and now wants employees to start working from offices every day. The move can have some unintended consequences — TCS has already indicated that it saw greater attrition from women employees when it asked people to return to offices thrice a week, and this number could rise as TCS bans remote work altogether. But TCS seems to have considered the pros and cons of the move, and now appears to formally be doing away with remote work. This will not only immediately impact TCS’s massive workforce, but also have ripple effects across the entire IT space — with the biggest player asking employees to return to offices, it’s likely that many other companies, employing lakhs of IT employees, will soon follow suit.