vedanta resources: Hybrid working makes a place for itself at India Inc

More than a dozen large corporates across sectors have institutionalised hybrid work and made it permanent, despite the return of the workfrom-office normal, industry executives and search firms said.Apple has made three days a week in office permanent, with one month of work-from-anywhere in a year. Hindustan Unilever (HUL), ITC, Maruti, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Tech Mahindra, McCain, Mondelez, Airtel, Mercedes Benz and Swiggy are among the others following a hybrid working mode for all or some employees.“We continue to work flexibly and offer hybrid ways of working that unlock productivity and help individuals find a meaningful and balanced way of working,” said a spokesperson of India’s largest consumer goods maker HUL, maker of Dove soap and Lipton tea. He said employees are working flexibly as needed, based on their personal context and choice.With companies institutionalising the system, job openings for hybrid roles were up 40% to 42,000 in August, from May, according to a monitoring report by Xpheno. This was based on a study of active roles across popular job boards and shared exclusively with ET.While hybrid jobs are gaining popularity, that’s not true of remote jobs, according to Xpheno. “Hybrid job openings represent 15-18% of total active job openings, up from 1% in May 2021,” said Kamal Karanth, cofounder of Xpheno, a specialist staffing firm.Executives said they have gone to the extent of tailoring existing and new workplaces to support hybrid models. “Our new headquarters in Gurgaon are designed using technologies and collaboration tools to facilitate hybrid work culture,” said Pavitra Singh, CHRO at PepsiCo India.“Employees have been given the option to choose their work settings, and are not compelled to go to office every day,” said the chief human resources officer at PepsiCo India.Mercedes-Benz India has devised a system that aligns with roles. “White-collar employees whose functions permit remote collaboration can work two to three days from the office, while having the flexibility to work from home on other weekdays,” said the luxury carmaker’s managing director and chief executive, Santosh Iyer.Global frozen snacks maker McCain Foods has also opted for flexibility. “We have adopted a hybrid model where employees are to be present in office for 12 days in amonth,” said a spokesperson.Companies said the hybrid models are being followed top-down and across roles, depending on the nature of work.Hybrid job openings in August are more than 2.5x the volume registered in the year-ago month, according to the Xpheno study. “This surge implies a returning popularity of hybrid work options — not only among employees, but also employers — despite the work-from-office mandates,” said Karanth.A Nestlé India spokesperson said the company continues to follow a hybrid model, depending on function and role. Hotels-to-consumer goods group ITC has maintained workfrom-home flexibility at up to two days in a week, depending on the role and with approval from the reporting manager, said its head of corporate human resources Amitav Mukherji.Tech Mahindra employees can work from anywhere. “We are also leveraging the gig workforce, as talent can be found anywhere… helping in creating a robust talent pipeline and increasing workforce diversity,” said Harshvendra Soin, global chief people officer and head, marketing, TechM.TOP 5 CITIESIn India, full-time hybrid job openings are mostly found in cities such as Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai, according to Xpheno. They are the top five locations, accounting for 39% of such jobs. IT services, tech startups, telecommunications, software development and banking are the leading sectors, accounting for up to 38% of total hybrid job opportunities.Maruti Suzuki has also introduced a policy allowing employees — in non-production areas and others, depending upon their nature of work — to work from home. Rajesh Uppal, executive board member, HR, at Maruti Suzuki, said, “The implementation of this policy has helped enhance employee engagement and productivity, while encouraging healthy work life balance.”In the post-pandemic era, Airtel has introduced a Step-in initiative to enable women to return to work remotely. “This initiative is also helping us tap the woman workforce from tier II towns,” said Amrita Padda, chief people officer, Bharti Airtel.

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