Aiming At Work Life Balance: Most Indian Employees Don’t Want To Return To Offices

After more than a year of remote working which allowed the employees to work from home, holiday destinations, and basically anywhere in the world, most of the employees are not ready to be confined to office cubicles again.

Earlier, it was the employer who had all the leverage in the employee-employer relationship; now the employees demand flexibility, and control too. “Employees have now realised that WFH gives the freedom to customize the work environment as per their needs, they can structure their work according to their preferred personal parameters such as adapting work to their life rather than life to work,” said Siddhartha Gupta, CEO, Mercer Mettl.

Despite being away from offices, people are feeling closer to their work now, claim recruiters. “Employees are more attached to their work now, enjoying it more, and working with zeal,” said Rahul Veerwal, Founder and CEO of GetWork.

“The reasons are straightforward — healthy family time, job flexibility, a great deal of independence, time for recreation, delicious home-cooked meals, cost savings for both natives and non-natives, and, of course, no management eye for surveillance,” he added.

The commute has been one of the top problems for employees, says Anil Agarwal, Co-Founder of InCruiter. Several had to migrate to other states or cities for their work but most have now returned to their hometowns and can now work from the comfort of their home along spending more time with their families which works in their favour.

“Many employees who no longer have to commute or travel have found more productive ways to spend their time, have more freedom in managing their personal and professional lives,” says Agarwal.

Hybrid set-up is the future

While several prefer the remote working model, many are also not against the hybrid mode. Hybrid is a mix of online and offline work. Most workplaces too are opting for a hybrid model – finding it to be a middle ground for both employees and employers.

Employees have expressed their willingness to come back to the office, albeit, in a hybrid setup, but they cited better infrastructure (28 per cent), alignment with organisational culture (27 per cent), social connection and bonding with peers (25 per cent) and less distractions as compared to a work-from-home setup (20 per cent) as the top four considerations, revealed Indeed report.

“The hybrid work model focuses on flexibility and choice with reduced transit times, collaboration at work, time to log off, and control over individual lives long-term productivity will improve when people can choose to work in an environment that suits them best. Employees find this model sound and pragmatic,” says Agarwal.

Mental health to be in focus

Many companies are making a significant investment in the mental health of their employees. According to Sashi Kumar, Head of Sales, Indeed India, Indeed India’s study found that employees seek the infrastructure, alignment with organizational culture, social connect, and bonding with peers as they express their willingness to return to the office. They also desire to be insulated from the everyday distractions of home. Yet, they also desire safety, higher productivity, flexibility, and better communication with their supervisors that come from a work-from-home setup.

“Counselling, telehealth, coping, and prevention are just a few of the mental and behavioural benefits that many companies provide. These are all helpful – as long as employees know about them, are educated on how to access them and are encouraged to use them,” says Agarwal.

Employees want a more favourable work-life balance and financial exposure through this paradigm. Maintaining an office culture post-pandemic is a significant challenge, adds Veerwal. Employers now intend to give scheduled and unstructured time for employees to engage, share, and discuss life and work. They are developing jobs that require team collaboration and interdependent work. “While employers may save on real estate costs and acquire talent from all around the world. It is yet in its infancy and we have only identified the positive aspects of it thus far; with time, a clear picture will emerge,” he adds.

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