90% start-ups, SMEs unwilling to continue remote working post Covid: Report

Topics Work from home | Coronavirus | MSMEs

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Contrary to the popular belief, it seems startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the least reluctant among employers willing to continue with remote working or work from home (WFH) post the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest "India's Job Market: The Pandemic And White-Collar Migration" report by employment website Indeed India shows that 90 percent of startups and SME employers were unwilling to continue remote working post pandemic, with not a single respondent willing to do entirely while rest 10 per cent willing to opt for a mix. Compared to startups and SMEs, the ratio was better among large global organisations with 40 per cent willing to continue remote working and rest 60 per cent wanting employees back in the office.

The anomaly among startups continues with 90 per cent having revised/altered pay in varying degrees for employees who continue to work from their native cities, while 66 per cent saying they do not have any employees working from their hometowns. Moreover, the majority of startups at 60 per cent said they were not looking to set up operations in tier 2 and 3 cities, even as nearly one in three employers believe that the development of app-based businesses, generally the forte of this cohort, will be the immediate outcome of reverse migration to such cities.

On the other hand, large Indian corporates (67 per cent) too want their employees back in the office, with only 11 per cent willing to continue offering WFH while another 22 per cent willing to opt for a mix of WFH and at office.

Even among employees, the Indeed survey shows that the share of those willing to stay permanently back in their hometowns is very less at just nine per cent, while 24 per cent of them are willing to stay back until the pandemic is controlled, with another 20 per cent till they find some financial stability.

Overall, one in two employees said they would be willing to shift back to a metro if their job demanded it and only 32 per cent were willing to take any form of pay cut even if it meant finding a job in their native place.

Indian employers are reluctant to offer remote working post pandemic with 59 per cent employers not being in favour of remote working in the new normal, while nearly 3 in 4 saying they will not continue it once a solution to the pandemic is in place. A third of the employers surveyed said they were unwilling to set up operations in tier 2 and 3 cities with more than half believing there is talent shortage in upcoming metros.

Further, the willingness to take a pay cut in order to work from their hometowns decreases with increasing hierarchy with 88 per cent senior-level employees saying they were unwilling to take a pay cut and 50 per cent saying they would shift back to a metro.

Employees do not want to stay in their native place because they do not foresee these places developing into metros. The majority cite the following infrastructure and service-related problems as deterrents, including lack of quality services like schools/colleges and hospitals (42 per cent), interruption of services like electricity, water and internet (35 per cent), and lack of hyper-local services (29 per cent).

Conducted among 1200 employee and 600 employer respondents under categories like organization size, hierarchical level, education and gender, the survey covered respondents from 12 base cities and 24 migrated cities, the survey was an attempt by Indeed India to understand the potential of reverse migration in terms of remote working from metros to tier 2 and 3 cities.

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