Rooftop barbecues, free lunches, ice cream and even garden plots — companies are going all out to woo their workforce and persuade them to return to the brick and mortar offices, months after a raging coronavirus pandemic forced employees to work from home, now often called the "new normal".
The pandemic is far from over with new waves and mutations threatening to destabilise structures again but companies in many major cities around the world have started recalling staff members back to offices, especially those who are fully vaccinated.
The professional services firm PwC's 22,000 UK workforce are being offered one of the most lucrative incentives, each receiving an extra £1,000 this month, as they switch to a hybrid working environment where they will spend two to three days in the office a week, The Guardian reported.
US bank Goldman Sachs is continuing to offer all UK workers who come into the office free breakfast and lunch, as well as ice-cream from Hackney Gelato in the afternoons, at its London offices at Plumtree Court. The Wall Street lender, which employs 6,000 UK bankers, has also waived gym fees, reopened its rooftop garden to staff and continued to offer childcare on site as needed.
The investment company Nuveen has spent $120 million renovating its office tower at 730 Third Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, overhauling the lobby, devoting the second floor to amenities and refurbishing a 22nd-floor terrace with two beehives on a seventh-floor terrace as a finishing touch to help employees come back to a more "natural world", the New York Times reported.
While many companies have been trying all tricks in their book, some have shrunk their office space, and many employees, having ably performed their duties from home, are questioning the need to go into an office at all. The surge in coronavirus cases from the spread of the Delta variant has caused some companies, like Amazon, Apple and Facebook, to postpone their return to the office to next year.
Experts say organisational leaders are at a “pivotal” moment and must put workers at the center of their longer-term planning in order to build business resilience. The push to return to the status quo is no longer acceptable to many and an increase in choices, including the ability to work remotely, has upped the stakes for employers.
According to Steven Hatfield, the head of Deloitte's Global Future of Work team, the pandemic has “permanently altered the nature of the employer-employee relationship.”
What's the scene in India?
A global survey out in July this year by software company Zoho said that around 95 per cent of Indian firms are planning to continue with the remote working for the coming two years.
However, there are some who are ready to take the risk. India's top IT services company Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) will ask its over half a million employees to return to office by the end of 2021, according to a report in Economic Times.
TCS CEO Rajesh Gopinathan told the newspaper that the company plans to call 70-80% of its workforce to work from office by end of the current calendar year or early next year based on how the impending third wave of the pandemic turns out.
Companies such as Infosys and Wipro are also planning to bring their employees back to office while some like Apple plan to adopt a hybrid structure.