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India's IT services sector wants workers back in offices – but not all the new hires

Industry insists it needs new blood, yet offers are being rescinded, pay rises delayed, and workers are furious

Indian IT Service giant Wipro has confirmed to The Register that it expects employees will return to its office for at least three days a week as of October 10.

An email provided to The Register appearing to be sent from Wipro to its India-based employees this week states that its offices will be open all weekdays except Wednesday beginning October 10th to assist with in person connecting.

"We encourage you to work from the office on at least three of these four days," states the email.

"Please note that teams working from the office as per client requirements will continue to have access to our premises as per their current schedule with no change," it added.

Wipro deftly avoided confirming or denying it sent the email, however in a mail to The Register company representatives verified the policy as true for leadership roles:

Wipro has adopted a flexible, hybrid approach in our return to office policy. Beginning October 10th, employees in leadership roles will return to work from offices in India, thrice a week. Our offices will be open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Our carefully deliberated back-to-office policy is meant to allow employees the flexibility of remote work while ensuring that our teams can access experiences as well as opportunities and build meaningful relationships at work.

No details were given as to who gets to choose which three days are attended or any solutions available to employees who may find it difficult to return to the office by next Monday, for varying reasons.

Harpreet Sing Saluja, president of IT labor rights org Nascent Information Technology Employees Senate (NITES), described the email as "abrupt" and said a month's notice would've been more appropriate.

"A lot of employees are working from their hometowns, it is very difficult for them now to relocate in such short notice as they need to find accommodation, arrange for various household stuffs and school admissions for kids," said Saluja.

Wipro is not the only IT service giant in India winding up full time work from home. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) reportedly sent an internal email in late September telling employees they must return to work onsite for at least three days a week, per a roster dictated by their manager.

"Adherence to rostering is mandatory and will be tracked," TCS reportedly wrote in the email. "Any noncompliance will be taken seriously, and administrative measures may be applied."

TCS has since emitted tweets like the one below, reminding staff that the company's offices are full of fun things to do besides work.

The Indian IT services industry has had a major will-they-won't-they thing with return to work. After remote working was instituted to combat COVID-19, much of the general workforce dispersed. With the worker bees freed from commutes and out of the direct eye of employers, industry players have had trouble controlling their masses, leading some on campaigns such as railing against moonlighting.

It should come as no shock that employees in the industry would take on side gigs given the need for more workers in the industry.

Quarterly reports in May and April of this year revealed that India's big four outsourcers averaged 22.7 percent attrition in the year prior.

TCS CEO Rajesh Gopinathan said the company closed FY22 not only on a strong note, but with the "highest ever order book," a problematic situation in a time of great employee churn.

"What we're seeing is a demand/supply mismatch in our industry," said Gopinathan.

"Volume has to be through freshers, there is no other source of volume... as we start pumping in more freshers, send them for training, put them into the bench and then get them into production, I think that cycle takes time, and you are already seeing the benefits of this – not only with us but also seeing that with the industry as well," said Infosys CFO Nilanjan Roy during his company's Q4 22 earnings call.

But while execs talk a big game about bringing in freshers, corporate actions speak differently. Reports continue to emerge of freshers accepting job offers but then having start dates delayed, or offers withdrawn - sometimes very close to start dates and after soon-to-be employees making considerable investment to ready themselves for the job.

And it's not just the India-based employees being unceremoniously dumped or stalled. One Florida native who accepted a position in Raleigh, North Carolina detailed how Infosys pushed back her employment by five months, That delay was most unwelcome as she'd signed a lease on an apartment she couldn't afford in a city she now didn't have a job in, after already spending on plane tickets and temporary housing that were never needed. Attempts to reconcile and find adequate solutions left the would-be tech worker ghosted, despite Infosys's claim that the employee should let them know if they "need anything."

As for those that do make it through, they should be forewarned that times are not exactly what they use to be, especially when it comes to increments and appraisals. Employees sold on yearly appraisals and raises were instead met with congratulations and promises of "next year," after TCS changed its wage-hike policies.

"Effective 1 April 2022, all EP Hires with anniversary date 1st April 2022 or after, will not receive a letter and/or increment on completion of the first year," read an internal email from TCS's Human Resources department viewed by The Register. "The first increment will be at the subsequent annual increment cycle."

"Your Annual Compensation will be reviewed during the net Annual Appraisal process," said another communication seen by The Reg and signed by TCS Chief Human Resources Officer Milind Lakkad after congratulating the employee on their first-year anniversary. ®

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