Companies want their employees back to office, but it is turning out to be difficult

Companies want their employees back to office, but it is turning out to be difficult
  • Companies have faced significant resistance when they have asked employees to come back to the office.
  • The hybrid working model has gained widespread acceptance and is likely to stay.
  • Some of the organisations incentivising employees are offering discounted meals, commuting benefits, etc.
Life after the pandemic has returned to normal, but for those who had got used to working from home, returning to office is not a preferred option – not yet.

Added to that, there is a disparity between how leadership and employees perceive working from home. In June 2020, TCS announced that it will allow 75% employees to work from home even after the pandemic is over. However, they have now backtracked on that claim. TCS has been encouraging employees to get back to office three days a week and has ruled out a scenario where employees can work 100% from home.

Infosys founder Narayana Murthy has warned younger employees against moonlighting and asked them not to work from home. Wipro chairman Rishad Premji recently made a statement saying that more employees should work from the office rather than from their homes.

And, it’s not just tech companies. As much as 71% of Indian business leaders said that they prefer their employees to work more frequently from the office as opposed to working from home according to C-Level Linkedin Research.
However, post-Covid, returning to work is a mindset shift. A report by ADP Research Institute reveals that 76.07% of employees in India would prefer having control over their working hours and would take a pay cut to guarantee the flexibility of working remotely or have the opportunity to alternate between home and office.


According to a global survey by, 66% of employers currently require employees to work from office, 90% of companies will require employees to return to office in 2023, 21% of companies will fire workers who do not return to the office and 88% of companies are offering incentives to get employees to return, including catered meals, commuter benefits, and higher pay.

To work or not to work from the office

Like companies across the world, Indian companies too are trying to adjust to the new normal. “Companies are aware that employee engagement is crucial to their performance. As a result, they have been willing to add some flexibility to the equation. Occasionally working from home for an office job is acceptable, but only with permission.,” says Mayur Taday, chief business officer, TeamLease Services, a staffing and HR firm.

However, companies have faced resistance when asking their employees to come back to the office. “Like many other organizations, we encountered significant resistance from employees, particularly those who were working remotely from their hometowns. However, over time, the situation has evolved. A substantial percentage of our workforce attends the office five days a week, while others enjoy the hybrid approach. However, there is a small group of employees who still show resistance,” says Jayita Roy, VP - HR, Adecco India, a staffing and HR solutions company.

Tadays says that businesses have been tolerant and non-obtrusive in permitting a gradual transition over the past nine months, but increased adherence is anticipated in the upcoming fiscal year. “Employees have largely adapted to the new normal as a result. However many who want a permanent WFH have looked for or changed jobs and landed WFH roles,” he adds.

Organizations across sectors want their employees to come back to office, but each industry has its nuances. According to Pratik Vaidya, Founder & MD, Karma Global, an HR and compliance organization, when it comes to BFSI, the principle is well settled.

Even during pandemic times, the entire banking and financial sectors were working normally with all transactions going online. The need for physical presence of a customer in a bank was negligible and this trend continues even today. Hence the second and fourth Saturdaysh as holidays for banking and government offices are widely accepted and there is no likelihood of any change unless the Banking Associations’ demand for all Saturday offs is met by the government.

However, in tech the situation is not as simple. “This is because the tech industry’ demographic holds the younger generation of people in the age group of 23 to 30. The vibrant lot seeks nourishing and nurturing of talent, career path and employee friendly workplace which they can consider as their second home,” says Vaidya.

Also he says that the younger lot is more inclined towards work from home or a hybrid model, a mix of both working from office and a few days at home. The mid-level workforce is fully inclined towards the hybrid model so that they are able to stay focussed on their career growth and balance days in remote working, where they can attend to family and personal demands.

The senior level is more inclined towards work from office so that they can focus on organizational goals and drive the purpose and objective of the organization.

The year 2023 will thus witness a lot of experimentation in organizations. Some will settle down faster, while others will take a little longer to settle, especially those organizations with multi locational units, multi job roles, multi grades and cadres, multi objectives and goals, as expectations will be huge.

Hybrid work could be the future

Linkedin Research has also revealed that 82% Indian leaders believe that hybrid work is expected to stay here for the long term.

“It is true that the hybrid working model has gained widespread acceptance and this will become the norm of the future,” says Vaidya. However he adds that it will totally depend on the suitability and needs of an organization. It cannot be a standard practice across. It will vary between industries and organizations.

The hybrid model comes with 4 days a week, 3 days a week, 2 days a week, once a week, few times in a month or once in a month. So it will be idealistic for each organization to decide what suits them best taking into account their vision, mission, values, culture, goals and objectives, competition, product demand and penetration, delivery and ultimately customer satisfaction.

“The hybrid work model presents an advantageous arrangement for employees, as it empowers them to structure their workweek to suit both their personal needs and the needs of their team,” says Roy.

She adds that a substantial percentage of their workforce attends the office five days a week, while others enjoy the hybrid approach. “We don’t see a world where employees return to the office five days a week. For now, it’s one or two days with an emphasis on flexibility,” says Chad Herring, CHRO, Zoominfo, a software and data company.

The way ahead

We were taught of this motivational theory of carrot and stick, during school days and it holds its relevance even today. In fact, fortune 500 companies CEOs even today use a combination of carrot and stick which helps them to achieve faster progress. An element of compulsion is necessary at the same time when carrot is being offered as an inducement.

Some of the organizations incentivising employees are offering discounted meals, commuting benefits, offering a decent raise, improving office space with re-decor, casual dressing on Fridays, team events on weekends, child care facilities, learning training and development programmes, and so on.

At Zoominfo, employees are regularly treated to free lunches at the office. There are also snacks and drinks available at all times. For many, the last few weeks marked the first time many employees met their colleagues in person since they were hired, so teams have planned group lunches and outings.

It is accepted that the pandemic has changed the way individuals view their work life as the two years of ingrained family style of work at home, and it will take some time for the employees to come out from this cocoon or home shell. Therefore, it will be imperative to build employee centric and customized work plans depending on each organisation's needs and wants, maintaining a healthy balance between the two.

Yes Bank shares tank over 12% as 3-year shareholder lock-in period ends
How does the Oppo Find N2 Flip stack up against the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4?