The Coronavirus pandemic has hit women in India and across the country equally with job losses and the closings of daycare services. Yet a surprising silver lining in the dark corona clouds has been spotted: India’s $200 billion technology services industry – one of the nation’s largest financially – can now allow employees to move from traditional offices to anywhere working arrangements, constantly if needed. We, at SURFACES REPORTER (SR), believe that it is indeed a positive change and women who often had to sacrifice their career for household responsibilities and other commitments at home will gain a lot from the policy change.
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These WFH opportunities in back offices are constructive for qualified women in small towns or villages who generally do not get permission to migrate to bigger cities for work.
Ms Teena Likhari, 45, who left her operations director role for the Indian back office of a Silicon Valley company in 2018 owing to a family medical emergency is one of the first beneficiaries of this decision to lift decades-old limitations on remote working in back-office companies. Ms Likhari seeks to join this year, she said that the pandemic had made working from home a mainstream in her industry, which had long eschewed the practice. While working from her home with Indian outsourcer WNS Global Services, the operations manager- Likhari began supervising a team of 100 members of Pune about 900 miles away.
“The change will allow many career women like me to do what we do from home, it’s a game-changer,” said Teena Likhari.
“Even a year ago, an operations leader working remotely would’ve been unimaginable,” Likhari further added, who has seen numbers of women resign work after the delivery, wedding, or because of other family issues.
A Hybrid Office
Many educated women and female rural workers lost jobs just because they can’t work from home. Bu the changes in the technology services sector shows how deeply the covid-19 pandemic is pushing corporations to reimagine workplaces. Firms like WNS, which caters to Avon Products Inc, Tesco Plc, and Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd are envisioning a hybrid office and home model and even satellite offices in rural areas and small cities. As per Keshav Murugesh, group chief executive officer of WNS, “We’ll see work going to people rather than people going to work.” WNS employs 43,000 workers globally, nearly 30,000 of them in India.
“With flexible hours or selected workdays, over 100 million Indian women with secondary degrees, could potentially find employment,” he added.
25-by-25 strategy by Tata Consultancy
Mumbai-headquartered Tata Consultancy has already committed to coming up with a 25-by-25” strategy by the year 2025, which allows only 25% of its staff to work inside an office at any one time.
“Given time and location flexibility, fewer women will quit after having children,” said N.G. Subramaniam, chief operating officer of Tata Consultancy, Asia’s largest outsourcer with $22 billion in annual revenue. “More women will stay in the workforce, more will reach senior leadership levels.”
Nasscom, the industry trade association says that the third of India’s technology services labor force has women employees more than most other sectors in the nation. However, along with the ease that work from home and flexibility will provide, it could also increase pressure to concurrently deliver on the home front.
“There is so much talent in smaller cities that has been untapped so far,” said Madhavi Lall, head of human resources at Deutsche Bank India. “Flexible work arrangements would certainly bring that talent to the fore, especially women who find it difficult to migrate or shift their base.”
SURFACES REPORTER (SR) appreciates such efforts to encourage women participation in the workforce, and finds that greater flexibility and the opportunities to work from anywhere would give women chances they’ve never had earlier.
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