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April 14, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a dramatic migration of people to work from home. TCS research found the shift is likely to last for some time. The 287 large enterprises surveyed said an average 40% of their employees would be working primarily from home by 2025. Last summer, the average company we surveyed had 64% of their employees working primarily from home -- seven times the percentage just prior to the pandemic.

The shift from in-office to hybrid work teams raises a key question for leaders: How can they make remote work more productive and engaging for employees in the new work order? That’s a big issue, and it is the one I discuss in the latest edition of TCS Perspectives. As global head of human resources at our company, a global firm with more than 469,000 employees, I have been living this issue every day for the last 12 months.

TCS sees the shift to a hybrid work environment (some people in the office, some at home, others at client sites) as an opportunity to improve our performance for clients. We have committed to a ‘25x25’ vision – a TCS workforce model for the year 2025 in which at any point in time, we will need only 25% of our workforce to be in our offices and an associate needs to spend 25% of his/her time in the office to be 100% productive. It has led us to create a service for clients who need help in supporting their hybrid workforce models. We call the service the Secure Borderless Workspaces model.

How can leaders manage this new work order? In my Perspectives article (Building a Powerful and Passionate Remote Workforce), I present five ways through which they can foster a culture of purpose, engagement and performance among far-flung workers. In this blog, I will describe one: keeping managers and employees digitally engaged.

During the pandemic, technology like online messaging platforms and video calls keep teams on the same digital page. But with fewer in-person interactions, people can feel like they have less access to managers and colleagues. They can all miss the camaraderie of the workplace.

What leaders must do is promote remote social interactions. Here are but two ways to do that, which I expand upon in my article:

  • Introducing moments of personal interactions. While virtual meetings should be productive, not every moment must be about work. A manager can start by asking for updates on people’s personal lives. How was the weekend? What do you enjoy doing outside of work time? This will help show that leaders understand their peoples’ lives are more than about work.
  • Doing more one-on-one virtual meetings. Empathy is essential especially in times when people may face unusual health issues and family struggles. Such meetings will help manager sense when an employee needs extra support. Providing that help demonstrates that an organization truly cares about its employees.

Leaders have many more tools in the tool bag for building a highly productive remote workforce. I invite you to read about them in my new Perspectives article.

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Milind Lakkad is the Executive Vice President and Global Head – Human Resources in TCS since May 2019. Prior to this role he was the Global head of Manufacturing Business Group since the inception of the Industry based structure at TCS in 2008. He is also a part of the TCS management team since the last 11 years.

Milind has over 30 years of experience in Business Development, Consulting, Program Management, Organization Change Management and IT delivery management across various sub verticals in the Manufacturing, Hi-Tech & Transportation Industry. Milind brings in deep expertise in managing large transformation programs, nurturing large relationships with the global organizations and running very large IT organizations. He has been involved in leading large strategic programs across the manufacturing value chain from Product Development, Supply Chain, Sales and Marketing and Customer Experience process areas for a number of marquee customers in the Manufacturing Industry.

He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from REC Calicut (now NIT) in 1985 and a Master’s in Design Engineering from IIT Mumbai in 1986.

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