WFH spurring rural buoyancy: Cisco

Small towns see job creation: Chittilapilly

The pandemic-triggered work-from-home (WFH) model has been flattening the socio-economic curve through wealth distribution and job creation in small towns and villages, said a senior official of Cisco India. This has greatly contributed to the growth of the rural economy of India, added Daisy Chittilapilly, MD, Digital Transformation Office, Cisco India.

She said there had been a lot of talk around the impact of WFH on the environment, but that we ought also to notice the impact it was having on the country’s rural economy ‘after thousands of well-earning professionals moved to their hometowns’, as part of the new work regime, and thus, collectively creating some kind of economic buoyancy across rural India.

For instance, Cisco currently has more than 13,000 employees in India and they used to work from fewer than 10 locations before the pandemic. Now, they are spread across 108 locations, she said.

“WFH has been leading to the flattening of wealth distribution and job creation; until the pandemic, it was mostly a metro or urban scenario and small towns and cities were not directly part of this growth wave,’’ she pointed out.

Access to basics

Obviously, the aspirations — the urban sprawls, lifestyle, better job options — are what attracted millions of rural folk to urban India.

“But, if we can get people to access the four basics — education, healthcare, food and livelihood — I don’t think they would want to come into cities,” she said.

On the longevity of WFH, she said, almost 75% of Indian CFOs are actually on record, saying that they’re going to look at WFH as a way to depress their operating costs. Cisco traditionally has been an 85%-plus WFH-enabled enterprise and therefore, it didn’t have to specially get ready for COVID-19, she said.

Between 2012 and 2017, Cisco consolidated its real estate, closing down 239 buildings worldwide and saving almost half-a-billion U.S. dollars a year.

Hybrid mode

“We believe the world post COVID-19 will settle into a hybrid mode,” she added.“If you take an average across all industries, about 65% of companies settle into hybrid mode.’’ But again, India has a go-to-work culture, and a lot of us naturally go to work,” she said. The social aspect of work is something that all of us miss.

And, on the whole, there’s enough research out there and there is community innovation, community learning and community contribution. “Human beings get energy from each other. So, I don’t think we’ll go back to either extreme after the pandemic,’’ she said.

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