Employees in Delhi and its suburbs, Mumbai and Pune are returning to the workplace at a faster pace compared to other cities, as offices reopen with coronavirus infections at their lowest in almost two years.
The National Capital Region (NCR), of which Delhi is a part, Mumbai and Pune have seen a steady increase in visits to workplaces and are almost inching towards pre-pandemic levels, a study by leading commercial real estate brokerage Colliers has found.
“Returning to the workplace has been a running theme for the last two years, soon after every wave. However, we are seeing companies opening the office with greater fervour only now,” said Ramesh Nair, CEO, India and Managing Director, Market Development, Asia, Colliers.
Colliers studied the key trends emerging from the Google Covid-19 Community Mobility Reports to understand the change in patterns of visits to workplaces in top six cities.
“Q2 2022 will be a crucial period, as we expect more companies to open up workplaces to their employees through a hybrid model,” Nair said.
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Traffic has significantly improved across all the cities in the last two weeks. The visit to the workplace is a comparison of visits in March 2022 from a baseline of five weeks between January and February 2020 pre-Covid-19, Colliers said.
Back to office
The market is seeing a surge in workplaces opening in the last few months after the diminishing impact of the third COVID-19 wave and good vaccination coverage among the eligible population.
Beginning March 2022, several technologies and IT companies started calling employees to the office at least twice a week, with most of these majors opting for a hybrid-work policy
These cities have economically well-diversified commercial markets spanning trading and manufacturing, BFSI, which are contact-intensive services.
Domestic companies have been at the forefront of bringing employees back to offices in a phased manner.
Service-oriented markets such as Bengaluru and Hyderabad, which have a strong technology base, have also seen a steady return of employees to their workplaces, it said.
Some global companies have reopened with a hybrid model of working but many continue to chalk out their hybrid policies.
Tech companies taking time
Overall, technology companies are taking more time to develop policies as they continue to work remotely. Indian IT companies started opening offices in March, with many planning to return to office in a phased manner beginning April.
In some companies, senior management employees are coming in a few times a week.
Consulting companies have also adopted a hybrid work model, with employees coming into the workplace two-three times a week on a rotational basis.
Overall, occupiers are showing a clear preference for next-generation offices. The focus needs to be on building the office that the employees want, which will keep “employee experience” at its core, Colliers said.
Companies can overcome employees’ fatigue to resume office by making the workplace safety compliant.
The new office
These new-age offices will promote health, safety, protection and wellness through various facets. At the same time, technology would be an important enabler as offices evolve into a space for collaboration, innovation and socialising, the real estate firm said.
Colliers estimates that landlords and developers have a scope to upgrade around 100 million square feet of office space in the top six cities, accounting for 14 percent of the existing stock.Retrofitting of buildings is crucial and can fetch as much 20 percent increase in rents for developers and landlords.