Startup bosses return to office first, work-from-home option continues for staff, Technology News, ETtech

Leadership teams at India’s top startups including Flipkart, Paytm, Udaan, and Zomato, among others have chosen to come back to work first, before asking colleagues to return, in part to instil confidence in the workforce around health safety.

In June, most businesses have given their employees continued flexibility to work from home, for functions which may not need at-work presence, despite the government’s recommendation to resume office travel.

“…depending on where the offices are situated wherever possible our senior leadership has taken the decision of coming to the office first, to instil confidence in our workforce that all necessary steps are being taken to safeguard employees,” a Paytm spokesperson told ET, adding that to begin with only 25% workforce is at work, while guidelines permit 33%. Paytm is headquartered in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

Over the past couple of weeks, e-commerce giants Flipkart, Udaan and Zomato have taken similar approaches, employees at these firms tell ET.

“We encourage employees to apply their own judgement on when and how they would like to return to the office…A significant number of employees resumed work over the last couple of weeks,” said Sujeet Kumar, cofounder of Udaan, a Bengaluru-headquartered business-to-business ecommerce firm.

Employees that ET spoke to also highlighted several concerns around returning to work including travel restrictions, reluctance to risk the health of their family, especially in cases of aged parents, and young children. In some instances, people have also returned to their hometowns and are unable to travel. “The fear is not just about the workplace but also getting to work, and other factors at play,” said an employee at a Delhi-based online retailer.

Businesses, however, are trying to address these concerns. Udaan, for instance, has tied up with Zoomcar and Bounce for sanitised vehicles for employees who don’t own personal transport. Others like ride-hailing app Ola have communicated to employees about safety measures like sanitising workspaces six times a day, safety teams for every site and demarcated seating to enable social distancing.

“Unless your work requires you to be at the workplace by the nature of it, you will continue to work from home until the end of June,” Rohit Munjal, chief human resource officer at Ola, told employees in an email, adding that all leaders and managers should call their team members to the office, only if absolutely necessary.

Snapdeal said it has extended its work from home advisory till 14 June and expects to have a small number of our colleagues back in the office in the second half of June. “The first phase will likely include those volunteering to return to the office and those who need to be in office for specific work requirements,” a Snapdeal spokesperson said.

Chief HR officers at these firms cautioned that while exceptions have been made for June, beginning July businesses will move closer to regular operations, especially in Delhi and Bengaluru.

“As businesses open up next month onwards, stricter protocols will be in place. There will also be enough data and learnings from the last three months to come to the best conclusion,” said an HR executive at an e-commerce firm based in Bengaluru.

Others like Swiggy, Amazon, Facebook among others have extended work from home for all employees for at least June.

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