Startups push for ‘work from anywhere’ model to boost flexibility

Bengaluru: As India Inc. begins sending more workers back to the office, a clutch of organisations is marking a different kind of milestone–embracing ‘work from anywhere’.

Flyhomes, NoBroker, Meesho, Angel One (formerly Angel Broking), ITC Infotech, Magicpin and Springworks are among the companies that have either gone fully remote or given some or most of their employees the opportunity to work from anywhere.

Their working models may differ, but in a post-Covid environment and competitive jobs market, they all address workers’ increased need for more flexibility and better work-life balance.

Real estate startup Flyhomesfor instance, is a remote-first company that has given employees the flexibility to either be fully remote or work in a hybrid model.

Social commerce platform Meesho has allowed people to permanently work from anywhere, while NoBroker has a fully remote policy for specific customer call centre teams.

Last month, retail platform Magicpin announced a remote-first model in which employees can work from anywhere.

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“Employee satisfaction has been through the roof, and retention has been high,” said Kartik Mandaville, CEO of HR technology startup Springworks, which was one of the first companies to take the fully-remote route. “Especially now when everyone else in the industry has opened/is opening offices, we are getting a deluge of applications because those employees realise they do not want to spend hours in traffic every day, and are more drawn to remote companies.”

In November last year, ITC Infotech rolled out a ‘work from anywhere’ policy.

The ‘work from anywhere’ model has also opened up access to a large talent pool.

“The WFA policy opens up the pool of talent and gives us access to the best minds irrespective of what their location is,” said Ashish Kumar Singh, CHRO, Meesho. “Currently, 95% of our total workforce is working from other locations, including other countries.”

The flexibility of ‘work from anywhere’ has also become a compelling factor for some employees to stay on.

“One of our employees’ husband had a job that required him to relocate to another city, and under normal circumstances, she would have to quit her job. Not anymore,” said Gaganpreet Luthra, managing director of Flyhomes India.

HR consultants said such companies will have an advantage in the war for talent. “They are likely to emerge as attractive employment destinations and will have an edge over those who offer none or limited flexibility,” said Arvind Usretay, commercial leader – India & South Asia, Mercer Consulting (India).

But challenges remain.

“It is not going to be all rosy. The biggest benefit of work-from-office is to have a cohesive, lively, connected culture. We need to see how our HR and leaders leverage pandemic learnings and ensure that we keep our culture cohesive among the fully-remote employees,” said Amit Agarwal, cofounder of NoBroker.

Working remotely necessitates an updated communication and collaboration playbook and each of these companies are working on it. Employees also meet up once in a while.

For instance, Meesho asks its teams to come together for work every quarter.

Springworks said it facilitates face-to-face engagement with off-sites; the next one being planned for May.

Magicpin cofounder Brij Bhushan said employees come together in the office in the first week of every month for better bonding. Events like internal cricket tournaments are organised during such gatherings to help workers bond more.

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