What Indian IT leaders miss the most while working from home

No more chit-chat.
No more chit-chat.
Image: AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi
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The Covid-19 lockdown forced Indian IT companies to empty out their offices overnight. Nearly four months on, people—including the top management—are missing the camaraderie.

Even as IT firms bring back between 10% and 30% of their workforce, it might be a while before their campuses go back to full capacity with buzzing cafeterias and noisy bays. And that’s something several IT CXOs are missing.

At a roundtable organised by industry body Nasscom, Quartz asked three leaders of India’s $200 billion IT sector what was their biggest personal challenge amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s what they said:

Work, work, work, and no life

UB Pravin Rao, chief operating officer, Infosys, and chairman of Nasscom:

One of the challenges probably is integrating work and life. We always talk about work-life balance but now what does this mean in this new context? It can end up with work, work, work, and no life.

You need to make time. It can’t be a regimented thing. You can’t say that from 9 to 6, I’ll work, and then I’ll be with my family. You need to figure out a way in which you’re able to take some breaks and integrate with family time for you to get energised and motivated.

At the end of the day, given our environment, it’ll be long hours from a total hours perspective but in between, you take some breaks. That’s something we were not used to and personally, something I need to do a much better job of.

Social animals

BVR Mohan Reddy, founder and executive chairman, Cyient:

Human beings are all social animals. We like to meet people, we like to converse with people, and we like to debate issues. The same conveniences don’t come into play when you get into a digital, virtual platform. I think therefore one thing that I miss is not meeting people at this point in time. That is the big change I’ve seen since the pandemic came in and we moved into this digital world.

Zoom parties don’t cut it

Jagdish Mitra, chief strategy officer and head of growth at Tech Mahindra:

Personally, for me, the positive part has been eating healthy and getting my exercise done in time. From board meetings to any meetings, the ease of doing a meeting and having a conversation has been a plus. On top of it, realising that you can do a lot virtually. So in work, activity, and productivity aspects, it’s been a tremendous positive.

As for negatives, I think all of us ultimately learn from talking to people, engaging with people, meeting people—customers and so on and so forth. You can do all sorts of Zoom parties with each of us having a drink in our hand. It’s never the same as having dinner across the table or having a coffee across the table. I absolutely miss that. Sitting in the cafeteria and hearing the chatter of the people. I miss the conversation we could have just by walking over to a team or into a room.