Omicron muddles India Inc's work-from-office plans

India Inc in wait-and-watch mode as Omicron muddles back-to-office plans

The Centre earlier this week announced stringent measures for companies in wake of the Omicron scare

Representative Image. Credit: iStock Photo

India Inc's plan to return to office by mid-2022 seems to be shadowed by the newest Covid-19 variant on the block, Omicron, which seems to be leading a fresh surge of cases in the country.

The Centre earlier this week announced stringent measures for companies and asked workplaces to "work from home" and have staggered working hours, as per a report by The Economic Times.

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Work-from-home mandates and Covid safety protocols are being reviewed to manage the workforce during the third wave.

While some international garment brands such as Zara, Mango and Ralph Lauren have called Covid audits at manufacturing units to check vaccination status and safety protocols, others have resorted to allowing employees to work remotely.

Mahindra & Mahindra, which has been on functioning remotely since the second wave, extended the policy till January 31, as a precautionary measure.

Tata Motors is starting a hybrid model of work that has a small number of employees coming to office on a rotational basis. "We have advised employees to avoid unnecessary travel and entering into crowded places, use personal transport preferably when travelling, wear a proper mask and ensure frequent washing of hands properly plus use of sanitisers," a company spokesperson told ET.

Marico also has a similar model, where only 20-25 per cent of its corporate employees are going to office on an alternate-week roster model. The company will review its position and amend the model if necessary in the future.

NoBroker had allowed 50 per cent of the workforce to work from home and was planning to return to office in January but will now delay the same.

In November, software industry body Nasscom had estimated that half of India's 4.5-million technology workforce would return to office thrice a week from the new year. However, the rapid spread of Omicron has changed the on-ground situation quickly, reports The Economic Times.

Microsoft will maintain the status quo and continue working from home, while Flipkart will continue with its optional work-from-office rule.

All Big Four accounting firms are on a break till January 3. They planned to start a staggered back-to-work policy but will now wait and watch.

MakeMyTrip will continue a hybrid work model for the next two quarters, as will Puma India.

Some companies like Parle Products, however, will continue with work from the office. “We have been maintaining social distancing norms since the pandemic started, and that has not changed even after a drop in cases,” Krishnarao Buddha, senior category head at the leading biscuits maker, was quoted by ET. “However, we expect employees to still come to the office unless an exact percentage is mandated by the government similar to a 30 per cent attendance norm in September.”

TCS had aimed to call back its employees by November, but the new variant muddled its plans; the company revised its statement and is currently monitoring the situation.

Even companies like HCL and Infosys who had decided to bring employees back to the office have halted their plans taking a cautious approach keeping in mind the changing health situation.

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