IT firms in no hurry to call staff back to office: HYSEA survey

It will be some time before the offices, campuses and hubs of IT firms start buzzing again as Hyderabad Software Enterprises Association (HYSEA) says nearly 50% of companies that participated in its latest survey favoured retaining work from home (WFH) level at the existing 90-100% till December.

Even by March, a little over 30% respondents expected 70-89% of the workforce to WFH, while 16.3% of the firms in the survey said the number could be 90-100%. Only some large companies showed a desire to get back to office in larger numbers.

This is an indicator of a clear lack of confidence in returning to office, according to the State of Business Survey (September 2020) report of HYSEA. A voice of the IT and ITeS firms in Telangana, the association has around 300 members. “It is pretty much on expected line,” HYSEA president Bharani Kumar Aroll said on the survey findings. Given the apprehension among employers and employees in the backdrop of rising COVID-19 cases and the vaccine still away “we expected people working from home to be the first preference.”

On number of companies that figured in the survey, HYSEA COO R.Srinivas Rao said it was close to 50, a sample size that had good representation from all categories — very large, large companies and SMEs.

Mr.Aroll said once the vaccine arrives it could be a matter of time for the return of IT workforce in good numbers to campuses and with it the rest of the ecosystem such as the logistics sector back to business. But, “till end of this year we anticipate status quo,” he said. The survey said 95% of the companies across the board continue to operate with WFH in the 90-100% band. It has actually increased in the last two months or so and can be attributed to increase in COVID-positive cases, a statement from HYSEA said.

Unlike the survey by HYSEA in June, companies this time around have begun talking about coming to terms. WFH, however, had its share of problems. Broadband connectivity, power supply and inadequate working atmosphere at homes, as well as low employee morale were some of the issues, the report said.

On the road ahead for IT firms to go to Tier-II cities in Telangana, Mr. Aroll said the “pandemic has proved we can still sustain and continue to operate wherever we are… this will encourage companies to look at tier II cities.” Such a move will bring along a small reduction in operational expenses, keep attrition levels under check and retain talent as the competition, at least initially, will be less.

Thanking the government, regulators and stakeholders for support, Mr.Aroll said HYSEA was in discussion with the State government to help SME IT firms, since they have been impacted more due to the pandemic with some resorting to layoffs too.

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