Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran on Thursday said even though a "hybrid" model will be the new normal in future, India's largest software exporter TCS will ask employees to come to work once the pandemic is over as social interactions are a social necessity.
"I do want to make the point that people need to meet people. It is a social necessity. So, there will be a shift towards moving people to work when the pandemic gets over," Chandrasekaran, who also chairs TCS, said at the company's annual general meeting.
At present, 97 per cent of the company's staff have been working from their homes because of the pandemic, he said, admitting that a "hybrid" model where people work from homes and also from offices will be the new normal.
TCS believes a "significant number" of people will be working from home in the future, he said, adding, "the future of work will be somewhat hybrid where some people will work from home, sometimes people will come to the office. So, the hybrid will likely be the new normal." "We still believe that offices will be needed. The occupancy levels may go down. There will be lot more collaboration spaces in offices once people start coming in to work," he said, answering a shareholder query on what happens to real estate and the huge campuses that it has built.
It can be noted that after the emergence of the pandemic, the company had first spelt out its 25-by-25 strategy, which said that at any given point of time a fourth of its staff will be working from the offices by 2025.
Chandrasekaran said the company was quick to shift work to the new normal after the country was put under a lockdown and ensured that all the necessary work happened at the backend, including shifting of computers and establishing security protocols.
He said 5 per cent of its 4.88 lakh workforce was impacted by COVID-19 infections and added that 80 per cent those affected have already recovered.
Replying to a query on employees' mental well-being while working from homes, Chandrasekaran said the human resources department has reached out to every single employee and also developed in-house tools to discuss other issues beyond work and also indulge in hobbies like art and films.
He said the company employs 150 nationalities at present and follows a pattern of investing in people in all the markets it operates from, he said, pointing out that it has 15,000 people in Latin America.
Visa issues, which had been a dominant concern earlier, were not faced during the pandemic as a lot of work got shifted to be done from home, Chandrasekaran said.
When asked about fears of rising political instability in the world, he said TCS has a risk management framework which assesses the threats and how to mitigate the same.
At a time when many rivals are investing in 5G technologies, Chandrasekaran said the area is of interest to TCS as well and identified as an "important growth area" in the future.
Some companies grow in size through acquisitions, he said, adding that while TCS is not hesitant to do acquisitions, it will evaluate every proposal to ensure that growth happens with profitability.
The Indian market has been volatile, and the COVID pandemic has impacted the maintenance-focused projects, he said, adding that a large number of projects which come up are development or transformation-oriented in which TCS participates.
He said the company is probably the one which has worked the most for Indian government and state-run enterprises, and specified its work for Income Tax Department and the Passport Seva project as examples.
It has 700 micro, small and medium enterprises in the country working as vendors for it at present and has joined a trade receivables platform, he said.
The company witnessed 27 complaints of sexual harassment made against staffers in FY21 and each of the complaint will be followed as per law and action taken if an allegation is substantiated, he assured.
Earlier, both Chandrasekaran and its Rajesh Gopinathan, its CEO and MD, said that the company is at the cusp of a multi-year growth given how technological play is shaping up.
Chandrasekaran said the COVID pandemic advanced the technology adoption by at least ten years.
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