For the last few quarters, TCS had been using carrots to get its workforce back into offices. It now seems to have transitioned to using sticks.
TCS has issued a final notice to employees who are working remotely, asking them to resume working from office starting March. TCS has granted a month’s extension to its directive, but says that this extension will be the last, and any failure to adhere to it will result in significant repercussions. TCS says concerns regarding work culture and security issues were the primary considerations associated with ending remote work.
“We are exercising patience but have taken a principled stand that employees have to get back to offices,” said TCS COO NG Subramaniam. “We have sent employees the final communication on this and if they do not, there will be consequences to face,” he added.
Subramaniam said that work from home had made both employees and employers vulnerable. “With the kind of cyberattacks in today’s context, an organisation can inadvertently get into trouble. One cannot have the kind of controls at home and there can be security risks to businesses,” he said.
“We are very clear that we have to get our original culture back. Around 40,000 employees joined us online and quit online without any offline interaction during the pandemic and that kind of situation cannot be helpful to an organisation,” he added.
Interestingly, TCS didn’t seem to have these reservations when the pandemic had first struck. At that point, TCS had boldly announced that it expected that 75 percent of its employees to permanently work remotely by 2025. But as the pandemic had ebbed away, TCS began gently recalling employees back into offices. The company had even embarked on a social media campaign to get its employees to attend offices — the campaign had been titled #TogetherWeBelong, and attempted to remind employees of the fun moments they’d had in office. But soon its tone had become sterner — in September 2022, TCS had told employees to work from offices at least 3 days a week, and warned them of “administrative measures” if they didn’t comply. A year later, in October 2023, TCS had formally ended its work-from-home policy, and asked employees to work from offices on all 5 days of the week. Just last week, TCS had yet again attempted to coax employees back into offices, saying that promotions and salary hikes would be linked to office attendance going forward.
But in spite of all these efforts, only 65 percent of TCS employees are currently working from office for more than 3 days a week. TCS now seems to have had enough, and has given a “final warning” to employees to return, and warned them of “consequences” if they don’t.
And TCS might eventually get its way, thanks largely to macroeconomic factors. India’s IT sector is currently facing a slowdown, and companies are jettisoning staff — fresher hiring has been curtailed, and many IT companies are laying off employees. Amidst all this, employees might not have too many options, and could be forced to acquiesce with their companies’ wishes. And with most IT companies now calling employees back to office in unison, and TCS giving final warnings, it appears that the days of remote work in India’s IT sector might be truly numbered.