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MC Interview | At Dell, we are championing hybrid work as a permanent feature: Ritu Rakhra

Rakhra, Regional HR Head (India), talks to Moneycontrol about the hybrid model of work, how the company has been encouraging employees to balance life and work and the war for talent

New Delhi / May 12, 2022 / 02:43 PM IST

Dell Technologies is looking at hybrid work as a permanent feature as the world of work goes through some seismic changes. Dell India is allowing staff to work from home “one to five days” a week.

In a video interview to Moneycontrol this week, Ritu Rakhra, Regional HR Head (India), Dell Technologies, said the company was “championing hybrid work” and telling colleagues to use it for a better work-life balance.

She said talent retention was a challenge across the industry and work-life balance and employee welfare had taken the front seat. Edited excerpts:

How tough has it been to manage talent in the last couple of years, given the “great reshuffle”?

During the first wave and the second wave of (the coronavirus pandemic) people wanted stability. There was very little movement and people came together to support each other. At Dell, leaders from across functions came together to support people and each other. But after two years of working from home, working almost in isolation, there was a pent up desire to experience something different. This is what the industry is experiencing today. People want to go out and explore opportunities.

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Yes, the challenge of retention has gone up significantly for multiple reasons—a number of team members are feeling burnt out, some others believe the grass is greener on the other side and they can explore opportunities. As a company what we have done is focus on employees’ mental well-being and physical health. We strengthened our wellness hub through various programme and track it through a tool.

Are you and your colleagues back in the office?

We are in a hybrid mode. We have opened the office but very few come to the office. What we have done as a strategy globally is there are few roles which need to be onsite and have to come to the office. Everybody else has a choice to work from home one to five days a week. We had a programme called connected workplace even before the pandemic, and are encouraging team members to work remotely and utilise the flexibility we offer.

After the pandemic there has been a significant uptick in that and we have team members who are working from across the country.

There are roles where we are asking people to come to office at least one or two days a week. We are in a hybrid situation. What does that mean is you can decide how you are working. I think 60 percent of our team members are part of the connected workplace programme.

Is this hybrid system a short-term arrangement or is it here to stay?

We are absolutely championing hybrid work. We are saying (to colleagues) to use it because it gives a better work-life balance. Initially, the productivity zoomed and now it has stabilised, and is at what we were expecting it to be.

There is a lot of talk in the industry about innovation and creativity vs flexibility but one needs to maintain a good balance. As we move forward, what we anticipate is that teams will determine the frequency of meeting physically—weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc, depending on their nature of work.

A good middle path will evolve—it will be a balance of work (and) life, and the ability to connect as a team and innovate together.

So, the five-day office is not going to be back for the next one or two years or is hybrid going to be a permanent feature?

That (hybrid work) I think will be a permanent feature. We are not saying that as Dell India (alone), we are saying Dell globally. The roles that can be done remotely, we want team members to utilise the flexibility.

We are not saying you have to work from home (and), we are not saying you have to come to the office. You make a decision on what works best for you. Work with your leader and see what works best and move forward with it.

So, it’s a thought-through company policy.

Yes. We had a goal a few years back that 50 percent of our workforce by 2030 will be remote. The pandemic came and accelerated that. People will be successful if they balance (work-life) very well.

At Dell India, how many of your employees are still working from home?

Around 60 percent of our team is registered with the connected workplace programme.  The connected workplace programme means you can work from home one to five days a week. We are letting different business units to drive that discussion and have left it to people and leaders.



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Prashant K Nanda is an Associate Editor at Moneycontrol .
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