Almost a year ago employers cutting across industries in India instructed their employees to work from home due to the novel coronavirus that wreaked havoc not just here but all over the world. However, now with the vaccination drive underway and the situation comparatively under control, office spaces have started filling up. The Economic Times reported that top office-space operators and co-working companies were reporting an occupancy ranging between 10-35 percent across India in what could be described as the beginning of a post-COVID era.
It said that IT hubs such as Bengaluru and Hyderabad still have a large number of employees working from home and hence they were behind the national average of people now operating from their offices. But offices in the national capital region (NCR) are showing increased numbers.
The rising numbers in the NCR could also be attributed to the continuous fall in covid infections. Delhi, for example, recorded only 145 infections and two deaths on Sunday. Authorities have hinted that they are open to lifting more restrictions in the weeks to follow.
The case is not the same with Mumbai, though. The maximum city, according to the report, is still showing low numbers because employers continue to discourage workers from using the local transport, partly due to the recent rise in cases. The city’s office occupancy is still hovering around 10-15 percent, says the report. Maharashtra on Monday recorded over 5,200 cases. As part of its measures to contain the spread of the virus, the state government has also restricted the employee headcount in offices at 30 percent.
SK Sayal, whole-time director and CEO, Bharti Realty Limited told ET the last two months had seen an increase in occupancy. The office operators also say that the numbers are expected to rise significantly once the vaccination drive gathers steam.
According to the report, the spaces were occupied in the range of 15-20 percent until December. They have, however, shown marked increases since then, going up to 20-25 percent in some cases.
Neetish Sarda, the founder of Smartworks, says the occupancy in Hyderabad and Bengaluru was yet to reach 25 percent but in Kolkata and Delhi-NCR it had already gone past 35 percent, it reported.
Most companies, including MNCs, experts say will start focussing on increasing headcount in offices from March onwards. A lot also depends on where the pandemic is headed in the country. India, last week, recorded over 100,000 cases in a week after five weeks. A new wave of the virus in the country could once again delay the return of employees to offices.