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Employees choose resignations over returning to office

Employees choose resignations over returning to office
Photo Credit: Pixabay
12 May, 2022
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The ongoing debate on whether employees should work from home (WFH) or return-to-office has taken a new turn this week, with employees threatening to leave (or are actually leaving) their jobs. More than 800 employees of WhiteHat Jr., a platform to learn to code acquired by BYJU’S, have reportedly put in their papers in the last two months after being asked to work from the office.

The company asked all its remote employees to return to the office by April 18, said an Inc42 report. It noted that the resignations came from full-time employees of the sales, coding, and math teams, who were unhappy with the decision and were unwilling to relocate to the office locations.

The news comes close on the heels of Apple's director of machine learning (ML), quitting the tech major after it mandated employees to work from offices at least three days a week. The executive by the name, Ian Goodfellow, who’s endorses 'flexible work’, told employees that he was leaving due to Apple CEO Tim Cook's insistence on implementing hybrid working from this month for all American, European, and UK-based employees.

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The company was recently slammed for its “return-to-office” plans and restrictive policies. A group of employees in an open letter also suggested that they are given “the option to work from or in an office” wherever suits them and their teams the best.

Others global IT majors including Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Uber and many others are endorsing “return-to-office” culture. Last month itself, Google told its employees in the US to return to office for at least three days. They could also be required to work in the office more often if their managers feel it’s necessary. Microsoft reopened its campuses in February, and Uber is following a return-to-office from end of April for 35 locations.

Many, however, continue to endorse remote work, like Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced this month that employees would be able to work from anywhere in the world — without experiencing a pay cut. Zoom has made it clear that they won’t be rushing their office reopening, without social distancing measures or personal protective equipment.

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Many Indian tech companies are also encouraging their staff to resume the office physically. Of the tech majors, last week, Infosys Executive Vice-President and Head, Richard Lobo, said, “The future will be hybrid for the company”. Under its 25-25 model, TCS said, no more than 25% of the company’s employees will need to work from the office at any given point, and an employee will not need to spend more than 25% of their time in the office. At the same time, tech major HCL too is prioritising employees’ safety and well-being’, and is looking to operate in a hybrid model after judging the situation.

However, Indian employees feel differently, as per a Cisco study released in April 2022, which showed that 90% of Indian employees are happier due to remote working because WFH not only offers a more flexible work schedule, but also reduces commuting time significantly. Also, 80% of Indian employees believe that the quality of work has improved with remote work, despite connectivity and cybersecurity-related issues.  

Rashmi Joyce, a senior HR manager of a Bengaluru-based engineering firm, said, “While employees need to adapt to pre-pandemic regime, like, juggling home and office, parental and childcare and other responsibilities, it is equally important for companies to keep their policies flexible.” She believes, now that these things have become difficult after two years, and more importantly, covid cases are again on the rise, it is okay to give employees some time to decide. 

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Sekhar Garisa, CEO, of job portal, Monster.com, agreed, saying that companies are "still navigating through the process of identifying the most suitable work methods be it WFH, Hybrid or Work From Office for the longer run given that companies are always likely to face newer sets of challenges in the frequent transitioning from one work model to another.”

Ajoy Thomas, Vice President and Business Head of recruitment firm, TeamLease Services, added, with a spike in Covid-19 cases again over the past weeks, a majority of companies are adopting a wait-and-watch approach to whether terminate or continue complete work from home. He believes that close to 25-30% of the workforce will be working from home on a multiple-days-a-week from this quarter onwards due to rise in Covid-related cases.