Offices across the country are slowly opening up with 33 per cent of the staff. This means, some people will come to office and some will continue to work from home. However, some companies have also opted for alternate days for employees to come.
With the corona scare still prevalent, certain sections of employees will have to be kept away from offices. The first in the list will be the employees above the age of 55, or in some cases, even 50 years because they are most vulnerable. Then, women employees with kids to attend back home will be given the liberty to stay away from office. The same could also happen with men with family. So, who will be left to work from offices? In all likelihood, it will be the stags, bachelors and young people who will be forced to travel to office.
Emmanuel David, director, Tata Management Training Centre, agrees. He believes that unmarried employees may have to give in to the pressure of coming back to work, as the exposure to the married employees is much more.
Purpose-driven organisations will give more importance to the roles and this will be the deciding factor for who will work remotely and who will come back to work
David says, “It is likely that employees without encumbrances can be asked to be at work or take up assignments which involve a lot of travelling.”
“Rather than being imperative or coerced, perhaps, circumstances and logic can be put up nicely to get a consent from the unmarried employees to come back to work. The logic of using precautions and the availability of PPEs to ensure one’s safety can be conveyed to these sections of employees as well,” he suggests.
Anil Mohanty, head HR, Medikabazaar, also believes that the chances of transmission of the virus are slightly less amongst bachelors who are staying alone. “So, if they are not dependent on public transport and have their own vehicle, initially the employees without children should return back to the offices,” advises Mohanty.
Mohanty explains, “As offices reopen, for employees with families, there will be pressure from the worried families to stay home, because the chances of contracting the disease and transmitting the same to other family members will be more. One will have to explain all the consequences to the family members and also take all the precautionary measures. While stepping out, one may not be able to avoid the infection but one can definitely minimise it.”
It is likely that employees without encumbrances can be asked to be at work or take up assignments which involve a lot of travelling
However, this doesn’t make the employees with families any less valued by any means.
“For the individual who is ‘home alone’, without a family, the issues on the mind will be dominated by the ‘what if’ question — ‘What if I fall sick. Who will take care of me?’ So, the organisations should ensure the safety of these employees and provide them with the much-needed precautionary measures to protect themselves,” says David.
Jayant Kumar, CHRO, Adani Group, quips, “‘Family first’ is good but in today’s time, people first, employee first and talent first have become the key criteria for any organisation.”
Kumar is also quick to add that differentiating people on the basis of marital status or any other considerations, to decide who will work from home or office, is highly unfair. “To my knowledge, commercial organisations will not opt for such considerations,” he asserts.
Commercial organisations exist for a purpose and the entire focus is on the nature of work. “Purpose-driven organisations will give more importance to the roles and this will be the deciding factor for who will work remotely and who will come back to work,” Kumar adds.
As there are roles which can be delivered remotely, Kumar continueds, employees with similar roles will be assigned their work accordingly, irrespective of being married or unmarried.
if they are not dependent on public transport and have their own vehicle, initially the employees without children should return back to the offices
On the same lines, employees with roles that demand physical presence will be called back to work.
“Organisations should think rationally and apply such criteria to call back employees and not obligate unmarried employees to bear the brunt during such critical times,” he advises.
While some people are looking forward to going back after stay-at-home orders are lifted, others may be dreading it because they may fear falling sick at work, or no longer having childcare or even commuting on crowded public transportation.