Forget WFH.  Working close to home is the way forward

Forget WFH. Working close to home is the way forward

On any given day, Navin Valsakumar, co-founder of Chennai-based Notion Press, finds at least five people from his team in Pune or Madurai planning to work from the satellite offices set up by the company in these locations rather than logging in. in from home. The publishing services company has teamed up with co-working aggregator GoFloaters so that those working from their hometowns can still “feel out of the office.” “We left it up to the employees to decide which location they want to work from and just pay for the seats. People have formed WhatsApp groups and they coordinate and come to the office together,” he says.

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His firm has made arrangements for subsidiary offices at co-working spaces in Mumbai, Pune, Trichy, Madurai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. It has proven to be useful not only for existing employees but also for new employees to meet their colleagues. Before the pandemic, the company was only hiring in Chennai or asking people to relocate. With telecommuting and productivity unaffected, Valsakumar has gained the confidence to aggressively recruit across the country and tap into a broader talent pool. “We decided to move the office to people’s towns instead of having them come to one place,” he says.

Interest in setting up affiliate offices increased after the second wave of COVID-19. As the third wave approaches, employees are reluctant to return from their hometowns, forcing organizations to provide alternatives to remote work teams. Even within cities, employees show a preference for short trips. Organizations are also aware of the fact that remote employees want to work partly from the office but in a space close to home.

In July, the Office Workspace 2021 Survey reported that 58% of the workforce want the flexibility to work from the nearest branch or co-working space that an employer provides, suggesting that working closer to home is the way to go. “While the work-from-home model has been a nice change for a few months, we have also seen a positive shift in the general feeling of employees to resume work from the office. Employees are now demanding flexibility, safety, and convenience, which has resulted in a working closer home scenario where employees don’t have to commute for long hours to get to work. their offices,” says Amit Ramani, founder and CEO of Awfis.

“There is stress that employees experience while working from home. Organizations and employees realize that having such offices in multiple locations helps form group bonds,” says Sparsh Kandelwal, founder of Stylework, an aggregator of flexible workspaces.

Khandelwal says demand for satellite offices has quadrupled in the past five months, with organizations blocking 10 to 25 seats that can be used once or twice a week.

This model, however, may not work for all sectors. “For manufacturing, service or SME companies, having their own offices does not make sense because employees are needed in a specific location. After the pandemic, organizations are more likely to call their employees,” believes RPYadav, president of HR consulting firm Genius Consultants.

Where Efficiency Resides

For most organizations, however, flexible satellite desks are a model that appears to be working. Besides having offices in multiple locations within the first tier cities, there is a huge demand for space in cities like Pune, Indore, Lucknow, Ahmadabad, Coimbatore, Madurai, Trichy, Vijayawada, Nagpur, Jaipur and Patna, for example co-working space complexes.

Having an office just 15 minutes away won’t be an abstract concept anymore, says Harsh Lamba, Country Manager for India and Vice President of Sales (South Asia), IWG, a provider of serviced offices. “We are seeing a high demand for workspace in second and third tier cities, as many companies are looking for flexible, decentralized, and permanent office space solutions in these locations,” says Lamba.

Collaboration calls

For a similar reason, Fittr, a community health and fitness app, has created ‘workout spaces’ by taking seats at co-working spaces in Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai. The Pune-based company encourages its teams to meet every two to three weeks in the office for work and socializing. “It makes the bond even stronger. Even in Pune, we locate an affiliate office in a mutually convenient location and will use our head office to store inventory,” says Fittr Founder and CEO Jitendra Chouksey. Of the 170 employees, about 80 live in Pune.

While they no longer want to spend hours commuting, some employees don’t mind traveling a bit. Having worked remotely for nearly 18 months, Raghu Rajagopal, an implementation consultant at SaaS in Chennai, doesn’t mind traveling 9km to the co-working place that serves as his company’s office. “I’m still half the distance I would if I were to go to the main office,” he says with a smile. Rajagopal joined the company in September 2020 and had a hard time building rapport with co-workers as well as learning processes. After the second wave, he and four of his colleagues decided to work from a co-working place in Chennai. We did this in the last week of September 2021, and posted the image on the Office Slack channel. The following week, our company decided to reserve co-working seats for people who want to work together anywhere they choose. I didn’t expect you to get such a great response. I think people are grateful for this option.

Besides getting the chance to work in an office-like atmosphere once a week, Rajagopal had the opportunity to meet colleagues from other teams. “There are days when I meet people from sales, product or marketing. It is great to get to know my colleagues since I joined remotely.

Satellite desks are also useful because they help new recruits understand the culture of their organization. “Many employees are hired by default and have not had the opportunity to get to know their team members or immerse themselves in the company culture. This has prompted many companies to look into satellite offices,” says Shyam Sundar Nagarajan, founder of the on-demand workplace provider GoFloaters.

For some, this was a way to reduce attrition and attract new candidates. After getting positive feedback from employees for opening subsidiary offices in Andheri, Mumbai, and Gurugram, Navi Mumbai-based retail, e-commerce and marketing consultancy Growisto has opened an office in Indore. “Having a branch office definitely made the hiring process easier,” says Growisto co-founder Pritesh Mittal. Growisto’s staff strength is just over 100. “Candidates are no longer worried about relocation. That is the magic of space offices.”

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