Work from home the new normal: Companies offer furniture, gadget allowance to employees

WION CHENNAI Jun 02, 2020, 12.06 PM(IST) Written By: Sidharth MP

The recent weeks have also seen statements about long-term WFH plans from the chiefs of major Indian IT firms.  Photograph:( WION )

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While relatively smaller firms have been able to provide such special allowances for furniture and gadgets, the big IT firms that employ lakhs of people worldwide have been enabling remote working by providing laptops, internet dongles and reimbursements for internet/phone bills. 

The Work From Home (WFH) Culture is here to stay! What began as a mark of precaution in many companies before the outbreak of Covid-19 in India, is set to be the norm for the coming times. Several companies across sectors as having even been rolling out WFH allowances and other benefits for their employees who are ensuring business continuity while operating remotely. 

One of the major issues faced while working from homes and other remote locations is the unavailability of a proper workspace setup. The lack of ergonomic chairs, tables and other could lead to small discomforts such as backaches and neck aches, as a result of prolonged sitting. 

California-Headquartered Freshworks that provides customer engagement software for businesses, had gone into WFH mode much before national lockdowns were enforced across the globe, besides rolling out an allowance for helping employee set-up a home workspace. 

“All 3000 employees across 13 countries (Including India) are provided an allowance of 250USD(18000 INR) to procure the right tools, be it larger monitors, furniture or ergonomic keyboards etc.. Since we were early to start remote work, most of our employees were able to make use of this allowance before shops closed,” Suman Gopalan, CHRO of Freshworks told WION. 

Companies that do not have a dedicated WFH allowance have permitted employees to utilize their Health and Fitness allowance to purchase the necessary home office furniture. 

“Across India, over 400 full-time employees have been issued laptops and accessories. We also reimburse internet expenses for all employees and even interns. But in the case of furniture we have tied up with a vendor for the best deals and our employees can purchase from them and get it reimbursed up to Rs.5000” Karthikeyan, Manager Corporate Services, Lennox India Technology Centre told WION. 

While relatively smaller firms have been able to provide such special allowances for furniture and gadgets, the big IT firms that employ lakhs of people worldwide have been enabling remote working by providing laptops, internet dongles and reimbursements for internet/phone bills. 

Healthcare consultant Dr Sumanth C Raman said that that almost all companies have announced to continue WFH till the end of June or even August(assuming there is no drug or vaccine available). “Decisions may be taken to allow people to work in rotation and to explore other methods for the longer run. However, WFH involves huge cost savings for the companies. Right from power bills, rents, admin, house-keeping expenses to operating cafeterias and fleets of buses, this would have a significant impact on the bottom line of the companies” he told WION.

The recent weeks have also seen statements about long-term WFH plans from the chiefs of major Indian IT firms. 

India’s largest firm Tata Consultancy Services plans to ask a vast majority of 75% of its 4.48 lakh employees globally (including 3.5 lakh in India) to work from home, up from the industry average of 20% today. The new model called 25/25 will require far less office space than occupied today. 

HCL technologies too have proposed that going forward, they will allow 50% of their employees to work from home while the remaining would continue their work from offices in the next 12-18 months

At the Global level, Amazon.com Inc has said that employees that work in a. Roel that can be performed from home can continue to do so until October 2nd. It is not known as to what percentage of their total staff this applies to.

Google has also said that a vast majority of their employees will likely WFH til the end of this year, this came after Facebook had also made a similar announcement.