Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has issued a final notice to employees who are continuing to work remotely, directing them to resume office duties starting from March. Although the IT behemoth has granted an extension until the upcoming month, they have emphasized that this extension will be the last, and any failure to adhere to the directive will result in significant repercussions, as reported by The Economic Times.
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Concerns Over Remote Work Culture and Security
TCS’s Chief Operating Officer, NG Subramaniam, confirmed this information to the publication, highlighting concerns regarding work culture and security issues as primary considerations associated with remote work.
“We are exercising patience but have taken a principled stand that employees have to get back to offices. We have sent employees the final communication on this and if they do not, there will be consequences to face,” he said adding that work from home have made both employees and employers vulnerable. “With the kind of cyberattacks in today’s context, an organisation can inadvertently get into trouble. One cannot have the kind of controls at home and there can be security risks to businesses,” Subramaniam was further quoted as saying by ET.
Instances of Cyber Security Incidents
During the fiscal third quarter, Infosys, India’s second-largest IT firm, disclosed that one of its US units encountered a cyber security incident, leading to the unavailability of multiple applications. Similarly, in December, HCLTech reported a ransomware attack, although it claimed there was no discernible impact.
TCS’s Shift Away from Hybrid Model
In contrast, TCS is shifting its focus from the 25-by-25 hybrid model, which it had introduced during the Covid-19 outbreak, aiming to restore the pre-pandemic work culture. In 2020, the company had announced that once all employees returned to the office, a quarter of them would work remotely by 2025.
Rebuilding Original Work Culture
During the earnings announcement for the December quarter on January 11, TCS revealed that 65% of its workforce had been attending the office for up to three days a week.
“We are very clear that we have to get our original culture back. Around 40,000 employees joined us online and quit online without any offline interaction during the pandemic and that kind of situation cannot be helpful to an organisation,” he added.
Addressing Attrition and Trust Concerns
During the period of intensified turnover within the industry, the company witnessed a notable surge in headcount, with an increase of more than 167,000 employees recorded between April 2020 and October 2023. However, this trend reversed in subsequent quarters as the company endeavored to mitigate elevated employee expenses. Addressing concerns surrounding attrition and the erosion of trust among employees in IT firms, Subramaniam highlighted the significance of security and confidentiality.
Transitioning Towards Post-Pandemic Operations
In the third quarter, TCS saw its workforce shrink to 603,305 employees, marking a decline of 5,680 individuals. This reduction contrasts with the previous quarter’s decrease of 6,333, which represented the largest drop since the 2008 crisis, reflecting a deliberate slowdown in hiring initiatives by the company. As the company transitions towards a post-pandemic operational phase, there is an expectation that TCS will return to its “normal operating mode by the end of the current fiscal year,” as mentioned by Chief HR Officer Milind Lakkad during the earnings conference.
Challenges in Reintegrating Employees
The process of reintegrating employees back into physical office spaces has emerged as a common challenge across the industry. TCS’s peers have also encountered similar hurdles in incentivizing employees to return to office premises. Many companies have adopted a roster system that necessitates employees to spend up to three days per week in the office, aiming to strike a balance between remote work and in-person collaboration.