“We have shut down our corporate office and closed all four branches. We see no need for it. We have called for bids from tenants for the 40,000sqft office,” Ranganathan said. Additionally, the four branches have also been shut. “Only factories and R&D centres will have employees come in and work,” he said. Nearly 300 people worked out of the corporate office, while the company has a staff strength of 1,900.
While most companies have announced aggressive WFH models in a bid to save on costs and stop the spread of the Covid pandemic, Cavinkare’s Ranganathan said he has chosen it for productivity reasons. “It is more from a productivity standpoint. We have seen a 30% increase in productivity in the nearly 100 days of lockdown,” he said.
The Covid pandemic is clearly emerging as a black swan event for India’s real estate market. While tech companies have easily adapted to WFH mode, an FMCG company shutting down offices will force others to look at the option with more focus.
CavinKare’s competitor Marico is working with an external consultant to bring about a critical shift in the way the company has traditionally operated. This is to ensure that at least 40% of its office-based staff would be in WFH mode. HR firms think that only WFH may not have the desired impact and the future of work won’t be completely virtual.
“Smaller spaces just for important meetings would be set up and a hybrid model will evolve,” said Ciel HR CEO Aditya Mishra. “Some critical decision making needs in-person discussions. While WFH works well in the short run, it may not be as successful in the long run.”
For those who miss meeting and interacting with colleagues, CavinKare has decided to meet once a month at an offsite location. “That will help them stay bonded too. Besides, they can be in touch with each other outside offices too,” Ranganathan said.
“Working during the pandemic has proved that virtual working is just as effective or even more than working in an office. This would definitely shake up office real estate and we would see the concept of designated workspaces go away,” said TeamLease VP Rituparna Chakraborty.
Globally, tech companies including Twitter and Square have asked their employees to be in WFH mode always. It would now be CavinKare’s big bet on the workplace.