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India's hybrid work paradox: Employees seek WFH but also want to meet team

Vidya S     June 10, 2021

India Inc is staring at a hybrid work paradox, with nearly three-fourths of Indian employees saying they want more flexible remote work options, while almost an equal number also crave more in-person time with their teams, a Microsoft survey released on Thursday found.

As many as 74 per cent of Indian employees want more flexible work options and 73 per cent of them want to spend time with colleagues, according to the Microsoft Work Trend Index India Findings.

The findings are from a study of more than 30,000 people in 31 countries. It has also analysed aggregate productivity and labour signals across Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn.  

With the research also indicating that almost 62 per cent of India's workforce (including 51 per cent of Gen Z employees) wants to switch jobs this year, Microsoft India COO Rajiv Sodhi pointed out in his note that "an organisation's approach to hybrid work will ultimately impact who stays, who goes, and who seeks to join the company".

Also read: Hot jobs: Healthcare, technology, manufacturing to remain key hiring sectors in 2021

Remote job postings on LinkedIn increased more than five times in the last year. Being able to work remotely now, nearly 68 per cent of Indian workers are likely to move to a new location, the survey found.

While several firms have said the future of work is hybrid, there is little consensus on what constitutes a hybrid work model, how many days a week employees will be called in or how performance will be evaluated when a few of them work from home, while others come into office.  

"Every organisation will need to adapt differently to access and deliver the needs of their employees," said Sodhi.

A number of large organisations began calling employees back to office this year, but the more virulent second wave of the pandemic meant the plans had to be junked in favour of WFH again.  

Currently, most organisations are in wait-and-watch mode as the Covid-19 infections in the country are just about abating.

The survey, however, showed that 73 per cent of business decision makers are considering redesigning physical spaces to better accommodate hybrid work environments. The report also pointed out that apart from flexibility, employees also need the tools to contribute from wherever they happen to be.

While employees adapted to the WFH culture and kept up productivity levels, it was at a human cost, the report found.

Also read: Indians strong in math but lag in data skills, finds Coursera study

Nearly 62 per cent of the Indian workforce says their companies are asking too much of them at a time like this and 13 per cent say their employer doesn't care about their work-life balance. More than half (57 per cent) of Indian employees feel overworked and 32 per cent feel exhausted.

With digital intensity of workers' days increasing substantially in the last year, it is the digital natives or Gen Z that appears to be suffering and need to be re-energised.

Nearly 71 per cent of this generation -- those between the ages of 18 and 25 -- say they are merely surviving or flat-out struggling. Survey respondents reported that they were more likely to struggle balancing work with life and feel exhausted after a typical day of work when compared to older generations.  

Gen Z also reported more difficulty feeling engaged or excited about work, getting a word in during meetings, and bringing new ideas to the table when compared to other generations.

Also read: Good news! Job hiring to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2021

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