RPG Enterprises has become the first diversified Indian conglomerate to do a permanent reset (WFH) in a breakaway from conventional norms. The $4 billion company, which has a presence in tires, Water, health, electricity, infrastructure, and plantations, has proposed a new strategy in which all of its salespeople will operate remotely on a permanent basis, while office-based workers will be WFH 50% of the time. In special cases, this can expand to 75 percent for office-based workers.
An office-based employee can work two weeks from home within a month, and in special situations, he/she can work for three weeks remotely.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, office-based workers now operate exclusively from home, with the organization overwhelmingly holding all of its offices locked.
The new ‘RPG Remote Working Strategy’ is the venue- and workplace-agnostic, effective prospectively from September 1. It also refers to RPG’s global activities, which also includes factories which plantations for workers not employed on computers.
Harsh Goenka, chairman of RPG Enterprises, said to TOI: “Our latest home policy work is shattering the notion of conventional workspace and competitiveness, and turning it on its head. Employees who are not running machines in our manufacturing sector or who do not have a consumer responsibility in our technology services business, even after the pandemic is behind us, will operate from ‘anywhere.’ It aligns with our ‘touching lives’ vision and ‘happiness’ brand pledge.”
In a note to its 30,000 employees worldwide, across companies such as CEAT, RPG Life Sciences, KEC International, Harrisons Malayalam, RPG Enterprises said it is imperative for the conglomerate to encourage employees to adopt new and contemporary working methods which improve their quality of life, productivity and also optimize the operating expenses of the group companies.
S ‘Venky’ Venkatesh, chairman of the HR Division, and member of the company management board, RPG Enterprises, said: “We have seen that the productivity of employees has only increased in the last few months, and our early investments in the digital capacity building have given us the confidence to carry out this direction that breaks the policy for perpetuity. What is interesting and special is that this strategy is industry-agnostic and includes employees in all our group companies around the globe, including CEOs and senior management. We will be the first diversified corporation to adopt such a far-reaching strategy as an option outside the Covid-19 process in the long term.
The time of lockout has helped the community appreciate the benefits of remote work. To operationalize the WFH, it formed a task force composed of a young team that submitted its recommendations directly to the group management board. The board then formed a sub-committee to bring it forward and to formulate a strategy.
Venkatesh said the strategy, also in the post-COVID era, looks at remote working as a long-term and continuing new standard. Today, because of COVID, all of our offices are still 100% closed, but our factories/project sites/plants are going. We have grouped workers into four categories by the nature of their job and the basis on which it can be determined who and to what degree should operate remotely. For example, a security officer would need to be present at the office premises. At the plant, an employee would have to be present at the shop floor.
The business model is such for Zensar Technology, that anyone can operate from home. Exceptions in IT would be those having to operate from SEZ/client locations or required to work from company locations through contractual agreements with clients, “Venkatesh said.
Until now, the group’s strategy has only allowed office-based workers to work up to a few days in a month from anywhere. The new strategy has broadened the spectrum of our production locations and plantations.
The new policy would help the group streamline their office real estate space and allow hot desking.
Among other large conglomerates and groups, the change could cause similar thoughts. CavinKare shut down its corporate office in India and relocated to a site at the WFH in June. Globally, Twitter allowed employees to select WFH as long as they liked, while Facebook and Google provided their employees with the flexibility to work remotely.