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Old 20th July 2021, 11:14   #166
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Default Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

I work with a media company and the latest update we received was that the management is planning to move certain teams to a permanently WFH setup and only essential functions will work from office. We have been under WFH scenario since last year. The company had 2 buildings here in Mumbai and we were told last week to clear our desks since 1 building was being leased out. The other one is being retained for top management and we will be accommodated in common conference rooms in case a physical meeting is ever required. Otherwise, it's going to be WFH as the way forward it seems.

While WFH does provide some respite from traveling, etc, the workload is pretty crazy since there are no set "office hours" anymore. Calls, mails and meetings go on through the day and even into the night; there are no boundaries. Even weekends have not remained sacrosanct anymore. Despite being physically present at home, I can hardly spend any quality family time. That's when you miss working from office, at least then there will be some semblance of work-life balance. Also, with WFH, companies are saving up on costs conveniently, while employee salaries/incentives haven't increased. Anyway, looking at the larger picture, I am still grateful for having a job today through these tough times. I was laid-off by my previous company (a large media group), in July last year as my entire division was shut. Prospects back then looked really bleak, but a golden opportunity suddenly arrived in October after twiddling my thumbs for 3 months and happy to inform that I'm employed with a reputed media conglomerate since then. WFH or not, I thank God for giving me the strength to pull through the crisis.
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Old 21st July 2021, 10:26   #167
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Default Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

A couple of companies have introduced a model where the employee can choose to work from home, but must be in the same state as the company office. Is that for state taxation purposes? I know it doesn't make a difference to income tax, but perhaps it makes a difference to the way a company is taxed in a particular state?
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Old 21st July 2021, 11:30   #168
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Originally Posted by am1m View Post
A couple of companies have introduced a model where the employee can choose to work from home, but must be in the same state as the company office. Is that for state taxation purposes? I know it doesn't make a difference to income tax, but perhaps it makes a difference to the way a company is taxed in a particular state?
"Commutable distance" from office is the new terminology . State governments give tax incentives or subsidized land/electricity in the expectation that the support industries (Catering, transport, housekeeping, security etc) get a boost.

Telangana state has asked all IT companies to reopen by September.

IMHO, this is a justified call by the state governments. Governments are not there only for the benefit of the IT WFH crowd.
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Old 21st July 2021, 11:44   #169
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Default Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

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Telangana state has asked all IT companies to reopen by September.

IMHO, this is a justified call by the state governments. Governments are not there only for the benefit of the IT WFH crowd.
Can the government do that? If a company decides that it does not need its employees in offices to be productive, what can the government do? My company has started advertising work from anywhere in hiring advertisements. No addendums and "till the pandemic gets over" excuses. Senior management is now trying that as a way to attract talent because of high attrition.
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Old 21st July 2021, 11:50   #170
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Can the government do that?
Am not an authoritative source, but I guess if the IT company is getting some tax breaks based on operating out of an SEZ and the government has provided those tax breaks based on the company physically being there, the government is justified in withdrawing those tax breaks.

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My company has started advertising work from anywhere in hiring advertisements. No addendums and "till the pandemic gets over" excuses. Senior management is now trying that as a way to attract talent because of high attrition.
That's a forward thinking organization! Ultimately it looks like it will be the small, agile (in the true sense of the word, not the sw development process ) IT firms that can benefit from such flexible policies by attracting good people irrespective of location. The 'assembly-line-coding' orgs will continue to rely on tax breaks and physically-present micromanagement to show a profit.

Last edited by am1m : 21st July 2021 at 11:52.
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Old 21st July 2021, 12:03   #171
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Can the government do that? If a company decides that it does not need its employees in offices to be productive, what can the government do?
Governments may not be able to mandate that employees (all or few) to come to office, but they can definitely mandate that the physical offices needs to be open and the support staff needs to be employed, especially if the offices are availing state government tax incentives.
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Old 21st July 2021, 12:47   #172
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Can the government do that? If a company decides that it does not need its employees in offices to be productive, what can the government do? My company has started advertising work from anywhere in hiring advertisements. No addendums and "till the pandemic gets over" excuses. Senior management is now trying that as a way to attract talent because of high attrition.
In the IT sector, at least for those which work out of the tech parks, there is an already existing law that 75% of the workforce must always work from office. This was only relaxed as part of the current disaster management emergency in place. Once this emergency is lifted there is no legal standing for any company to allow WFH for all employees unless the Govt permanently removes the rule.

In fact the very concept of carrying a laptop away from the IT building is not exactly legal since the company doesnt pay custom duty while importing this laptop as long as they use it within the SEZs. Not sure how it works everywhere but in my wife's old firm there used to be a big sticker at the back of the laptop saying it should not be taken out of the building due to export-import rules.
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Old 21st July 2021, 13:22   #173
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Telangana state has asked all IT companies to reopen by September.

IMHO, this is a justified call by the state governments. Governments are not there only for the benefit of the IT WFH crowd.
For IT service companies, most of their clients won't prefer that their offshore team members (employed by Indian vendor) would work from office due to risk involved and potential impact to their business if many team members become unwell. (Speaking from my current experience)

Many companies may think about closing the big office in SEZ and retain only small offices outside SEZ area, this can offset additional expanse.

As far as Tax benefits are concerned, the reason behind development of IT industry in certain states is not due to tax benefits, as nowadays almost all states would like to provide benefits, but mainly due to availability of "local" workforce. Now in case of cities like Hyderabad, "local workforce" may be actually coming from any place in Telangana or Andhra Pradesh or nearby sate as well.

Local builders / politicians would be really worried for real estate prices and rental income.
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Old 21st July 2021, 15:55   #174
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IMHO, this is a justified call by the state governments. Governments are not there only for the benefit of the IT WFH crowd.
I feel the Bangalore (KA) government is there for the benefit of everyone except the IT crowd.
The companies get tax breaks, the local landlords get tax-free rental income at absurd rates and the local politicians squander off tax money in the name of flyovers, bus lanes, white topping, etc.
The poor IT employee who religiously pays tax gets fleeced by everyone right from the auto walla to the cops and is branded as a rich outsider whose aim is to steal from the locals.

Last edited by Jaguar : 21st July 2021 at 15:56.
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Old 21st July 2021, 17:56   #175
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Default Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

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Originally Posted by anandhsub View Post
In the IT sector, at least for those which work out of the tech parks, there is an already existing law that 75% of the workforce must always work from office. This was only relaxed as part of the current disaster management emergency in place. Once this emergency is lifted there is no legal standing for any company to allow WFH for all employees unless the Govt permanently removes the rule.

In fact the very concept of carrying a laptop away from the IT building is not exactly legal since the company doesnt pay custom duty while importing this laptop as long as they use it within the SEZs. Not sure how it works everywhere but in my wife's old firm there used to be a big sticker at the back of the laptop saying it should not be taken out of the building due to export-import rules.
The rules should be amended if they can be relaxed for a disaster, forcing employees to work from office is what drives the rest of the daily mess - traffic jams and pollution.

The companies can afford the duties on a laptop without breaking the bank, in fact they've already recovered it over the last year, paying duties is just a speeding ticket in the grand scheme of things. The best part of this while back to office charade is that when we went to office and lived in the city everyone blamed us for all the problems, now that no one goes to office, apparently it's our responsibility to pay rents and spend money. I don't owe it to anybody, if my company calls me back, then fine, no one concerned about indirect jobs will be lending a helping hand if we hit a rough patch.

The whole laptop in a SEZ law of the kind of bureaucratic red tape that we don't need, why buy a laptop if you can't carry it around?
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Old 21st July 2021, 18:27   #176
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The rules should be amended if they can be relaxed for a disaster, forcing employees to work from office is what drives the rest of the daily mess - traffic jams and pollution.
...
The whole laptop in a SEZ law of the kind of bureaucratic red tape that we don't need, why buy a laptop if you can't carry it around?

Well, its a bit more nuanced than that.

The SEZs have a whole lot of tax exemptions. It may not be worth the hassle for all industries, but there are some organizations in S/W industry where this is a significant sum.
Import duties add a large value to Workstation based companies for sure. It would account to at least 1/3rd of the cost.
The Corporate Tax incentive is heavy. An SEZ based development centre in India provides tax rate equivalent to Panama or Monacco, lower than the European tax havens like Ireland.
For service based companies, there is significant benefit in relaxed Service tax/GST norms.

So, incentives are sizeable. It is one of the reason why we see absurdly crowded IT corridors with heavily jammed up roads. They all want to open shop with a tax benefit.
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Old 31st July 2021, 12:31   #177
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Default Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

WFH has its merits but the side effects on the support economy is terrible. The entire transportation, food businesses are down. People who had taken loans for the business are in default, many out of jobs. Home rentals have crashed in some pockets as people have gone to home towns or to cheaper options.

What is good for some is not for others. IMO we may settle down to a hybrid option in the long term.
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Old 31st July 2021, 12:42   #178
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Default Re: Work From Home (WFH): Is this the future for many?

The main aspect which worries state governments like in Telangana is the impact on other associated employment (non-engineering). The building staff, transport, cafeteria, and the business hotels and restaurants, etc around these areas also will not be able to come back to normalcy, if these companies don't mandate staff to be present in the office. This is a significant loss for the government and investors (local politicians!)

Unlike Bangalore, Hyderabad's IT population is mostly local and they don't really mind going back to the office after being fully vaccinated as per our office survey.

And yes, Tax sops is the reason why they are concentrated in Bangalore, Hyderabad, and NCR areas. Until the SEZ rules are reviewed and modified by the central government, the big IT companies who are operating out of those locations and exporting to other countries will not be able to make definite plans for allowing everyone to work from home. It's being discussed as said in the news (link) but I personally don't think the local governments of KA, TA, etc will let go that easily.

Letting go of the SEZ benefits will impact the price structure and competitiveness of our big players in today's scenario. Smaller companies who are operating locally like Indian product companies who may not be dependent on these may be able to do full WFH.

\\hkp

Last edited by HKP : 31st July 2021 at 12:58. Reason: spelling, clarity
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Old 31st July 2021, 12:52   #179
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One solution is to have only "dumb" terminals @ home. Actual PC can be on-premise or cloud. With solutions like https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-365 , data will not reach worker's home.
My wife's company follows this.
In fact even though she is not in IT, they seem to have a pretty secure system of first logging into VPN (which has an OTP verification) and then she connects to her desktop at work.
She works in the media and typically all their data is published publicly the next day.
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Old 31st July 2021, 13:13   #180
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Totally agree. WFH is an unwanted monstrosity. There is no joy in it. Its become 24h job. Added to that all the commotion at home and the unreliable utilities like electricity, its a burden actually. Hardly half the work gets done in same time so have to slog unnecessarily. In office you could walk down to a colleague and unwind or take help if you are stuck. I am really missing my office now.
I can't quite agree. Not all teams or companies are encouraging this culture with WFH. As far my team is concerned, there are no changes in the expectations surrounding people availability. We still draw a clear line between business hours and the rest of the day. There are absolutely no late evening meetings unless it is a meeting with a customer on the other side of the globe - this used to happen even before WFH era anyhow.

WFH has enabled me to spend my evenings in a better way - I am able to play tennis from around 6:30PM in a tennis court right behind my home. This would not have been a possibility with the daily commute added to the equation. #1, With the added commute time (30-40 minutes), I'll be reaching home late and #2, I'll be tired once I reach home.

One risk I am seeing is bad ergonomics causing back pain and related issues to many employees. Two of my team members reported back pain issue recently and one of them is bed ridden for about a month. One need to ensure that their work desk/chair does not cause such issues. I stand up and work for few hours most of the days. I would love to do that even from office.
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