Amid demand from sectors that also witnessed boom along with the software industry, such as transport and real estate, to scrap the Work From Home (WFH) system, techies who have relocated back to their hometowns are favouring continuation of the system.
“My family members are happy as I am in my hometown. With high rent, exorbitant transport cost and never-ending traffic jams, not many would want to continue to stay and work in Bengaluru by choice,” said Durga Ramadas, a software professional at Mangaluru. He said 87% of employees in his company favoured WFH during a survey. Particularly, senior citizens are happy as their children are with them, he added.
Development of Karnataka appears to be taking a course correction with WFH, feels Gautam Shetty, a professional now in Kundapura. From Bengaluru-centric development, WFH has taken development even to villages wherever internet connectivity is available, He argued that rural economy could improve with professionals working from their villages. “It was not that we wanted to work in Bengaluru. We were forced to do so because of lack of opportunities in hometowns,” Mr. Shetty said.
Nithin Bhandary, now in Mangaluru, said that vested interests were behind the demand to scrap WFH. Politicians bought land and minted fortunes following the boom in the IT sector, followed by schools that charge exorbitant fees. The application fee itself would be around ₹200 and most parents buy applications from more than one school as they are unsure of getting admission in a particular school, he noted.
Mr. Bhandary said the government should not succumb to lobbies if it really wants comprehensive development of Karnataka. It should push for opening of IT and IT-enabled service industries in different parts of Karnataka with lessons from the WFH system.
Venkatesh Rao, a resident of Koppa in Chikkamagaluru district, said the two COVID-19 lockdowns helped revive the agricultural sector with many returning home and taking up farming activities at least part-time. WFH, he said, too contributed to this with many professionals staying in their villages to look after farming activities and also commuting to the nearest town where good internet connectivity is available.
Many companies are favouring a hybrid scenario. The HR head of a leading tech firm said that the company expects some 30% of techies to come back to work in 2022.
IT companies are now making 20% to 25% saving on operational cost, including rentals, energy cost, catering, transportation, housekeeping, water and other charges, which means a direct positive impact on their bottomlines and profit, according to the CFO of a tech firm.
However, most argue that WFH cannot be 100%.
“Enterprises cannot fully exist out of homes. TCS just spoke about hiring 40,000 people. How will the newcomers learn culture, values and process flow of their employer only via online,” said B.S. Murthy, HR expert and CEO of CXO hiring firm, Leadership Capital.
Reduced traffic in Bengaluru
Traffic volumes have reduced by about 35% in IT hubs, particularly in east Bengaluru, with companies resorting to WFH, said B.R. Ravikanthe Gowda, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Bengaluru.
Similar reduction was not visible in west Bengaluru, where manufacturing industries dominate.
If bus priority lanes were effectively utilised, traffic volumes may not increase even if professionals return to office in full strength, he added.
(With additional inputs by Mini Tejaswi in Bengaluru)