The Drum in India has listed insights that companies are learning as the return to work gains steam: 

— “Over the last few months, we’ve been seeing a ‘multi-brid’ model (not a hybrid model) happening organically,” said Josy Paul, chairman of BBDO India.  ”Some of us are meeting and working from each other’s homes, some meet and work from outdoor coffee shops, some work from open-air restaurants and people’s terraces,” he said. 

— “We were one of the early agencies in India to open up our offices as an option for employees to come back,“ said Rana Barua at Havas Group “Safety has been one of our major priorities and it continues to be so and we have not made it mandatory for our employees to attend office physically.“

He says the agency allowed staff struggling with the constraints of working from home – lack of space, company or a surfeit of boredom – and that the agency will not mandate staff come in at all until the vaccine drive in India has made more progress.

“Whoever wishes to and needs to work from the office comes in as our offices remain open five days a week and we are equipped to handle 50% staffing after factoring in social distancing, all norms of health, sanitization and protocol,“ he says.

“We curated engaging activities and sessions for employees such as Yoga sessions, Havas Talks – a knowledge-sharing platform, #SilverLining – where employees gave tips and recommended books, TV shows, podcasts etc. There were also online sessions on mental health with doctors and many more initiatives,“ he says.

“It helped in making employees feel connected, motivated, busy and kept the lines of communication open.“

— “We will bring people back to the office physically, in a phased manner, when we feel it is safer to do so. That may be two months down the line or when vaccines are available to the general public. It is a measured call that we will have to take carefully. But we will get back soon. And I will be the first through the door,” said Kunal Jeswani, chief executive at Ogilvy India

“We worked on many fronts: constant health tracking and support; employee engagement programmes – just getting everyone together online once a week for entertainment and conversations; ramping up training programmes; culture refreshers; employee recognition awards. But all of this is transient. Just lifting spirits and making people feel connected as often as we could. The only real, significant coping mechanism was people supporting and being empathetic towards each other.“