For the last several months, tech companies have been trying to cajole their employees back to offices, but the tone of one of India’s IT giants has now become a bit firmer.
TCS has told its employees to work from office for at least 3 days a week, and warned of “administrative measures” for those who don’t comply. “Senior leaders of TCS have been working from TCS offices for a while now and our customers are also visiting TCS offices,” TCS told employees in an internal email. “Your respective managers will now roster you to work from the TCS office for at least 3 days in a week,” the mail added.
TCS also specified that it was serious about the new move. “Adherence to rostering is mandatory and will be tracked… any noncompliance will be taken seriously, and administrative measures may be applied,” the mail added. The email, however, did not provide a deadline for the staff members, but asked them to get in touch with their HR business partners for more information.
This is a slight departure from TCS’ previous approach, which involved gentle coaxing to get employees back to work. The company had even embarked on a social media campaign to get its employees to attend offices. The campaign seemed to be titled #TogetherWeBelong, and attempted to remind employees of the fun moments they’d had in office. “It’s time to relive all the fun moments with your coworkers. It’s time to relive all the fun moments with your coworkers,” TCS had posted on Twitter, with a photo of two employees who looked overjoyed at having returned to work.
TCS had been among the first few companies to react after the coronavirus pandemic had struck. The company had gone ahead and announced an ambitious 25/25 program, in which 75 percent of TCS employees would be working from home at any given time. “We don’t believe that we need more than 25% of our workforce at our facilities in order to be 100% productive,” TCS chief operating officer NG Subramaniam had then said.
But TCS has discovered that after the pandemic has ebbed away, it’s struggling to get even 25% of its employees to attend offices. A recent ET report had said that TCS was unable to yet its young employees to return to offices, with more than 80% continuing to work from home. TCS isn’t the only company with this problem — a report in July had said that 75% of India’s IT employees weren’t attending office even once a week.
TCS, however, has now decided that it’s had enough, and issued directives for employees to show up to work at least thrice a week. Some companies have gone in the opposite direction — Quora and Shopify have gone remote-first, while even Paytm has begun hiring for roles where it doesn’t require employees to ever attend office. It remains to be seen how TCS’ three-days-a-week directive is received by its workforce, but there are now growing indications that Indian IT firms might soon be adopting a much harsher approach to remote work than they had done during the pandemic.