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'WFH ain't no WFO': Kumar Mangalam Birla strikes a contrarian note

Albeit the merits of work from home (WFH) arrangement, Birla expects that most organisations will revert to the pre-COVID workplace equilibrium in large parts, once the pandemic is quelled

twitter-logoManali | January 21, 2021 | Updated 14:52 IST
'WFH ain't no WFO': Kumar Mangalam Birla strikes a contrarian note
Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group shared his views in his annual note titled '2020-21: My Reflections'

While the work from home (WFH) arrangement has emerged as a big trend amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it hasn't really struck a chord with billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla. Sharing his views on work from home (WFH), a trend brought about by the coronavirus crisis, the industrialist states in his annual note titled '2020-21: My Reflections' that although many have opined that WFH is going to be a mega-trend of this decade, he holds a "slightly contrarian" view.

"There has been a lot of focus on new models of work in the wake of the pandemic. I have to confess I was amazed by the overnight switch to WFH across Corporate India. And as we now witness a calibrated return to the workplace, we are confronted with the larger question on the future of work," Birla says.

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"The 'Office', after all, isn't just a place where we come to work. It is a melting pot-of people, ideas, and conversations. The coming together of people with diverse skills and experiences is what makes an office more than just a place of work," says the chairman of Aditya Birla Group.

Birla, who in the epilogue, penned his reflections of the past year as well as the major turn of events amid the pandemic, states that "this is what defines culture" and "creates magic."

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"Culture is not some amorphous code that Kumar Mangalam Birla gets handed out to employees. It emerges from human interactions. It's hard to imagine that this is possible, on a sustained basis, by talking to computer screens," says Birla.

Drawing two "distinct advantages" of the WFH arrangement that need to be "harnessed", the industrialist says, first, it "offers employees the choice to be productive, even if their personal circumstances force them to be tethered at home," second, it allows organisations "the ability to recruit a more diverse set of people."

Albeit the merits of WFH, Birla expects that most organisations will "revert to the pre-COVID workplace equilibrium in large parts, once the pandemic is quelled."

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