Deepak Bharara


Rajiv Tewari

12th May 2016

Flexi Work is the future but E-Touch must be blended with P- Touch for success

By Rajiv Tewari, Founder,, based on a conversation with Deepak Bharara, CHRO, LANCO INFRATECH LIMITED.

Technology is redefining the whole concept of working from a fixed office location. HR practices have already evolved to replace a lot of manual interfaces with modern technology. It’s now possible to match the skills sets of the individual applicants with the role requirements through technology in place of the physical screening and multiple interviews.

Candidates can share their skill sets against a job requirement and the technology interface can quickly generate a list of the right matches. Such processes save a lot of time but at the same time it also means that skill sets are going to be increasingly more important thanmere qualifications and past experience. To be able to do this efficiently, the HR professionals would still have a very significant role to play as E-Touch can never replace the P- Touch (Personal Touch). Two together is the right way forward. This is to be remembered while we delve further into the current and future of flexi work policies in India.

New generation is changing the concept of HRM

India has the world’s largest youth population with 356 million in the age group of 10-24 year-olds. This is a generation which will find it difficult to imagine a time when we did not have internet and smart devices. The generation above them has already begun to impact the work places and the trend is expected to gather a lot more momentum as more millennials get added to the work force.
“A new joinee from this generation is expected to have quick movements up the ladder of hierarchy&move out of roles quickly to gain maximum experience in a short period. Recent studies show that theyounger generation is expecting change of roles in the range of 12 to 14 times in a life span of 15 years ” i.e. vivid expereinces…. said Deepak Bharara.
The HR community is already responding to this challenge by toning down the expectations on retention to a maximum of 3 years and a minimum of 3 to 6 months. Senior HR professioanls along with line managers are visiting campuses & trying to set the expectations much before the individual takes up assignments.This however has created a huge need for HR professionals to maintain a large data base of talent, so that replacements can be found quickly. Best solution; however, would be to redesign the roles in such a way that the joinees get maximum experience in the same company. This can reduce the attrition rate significantly.

Flexi work policies in India

Flexi work policies are currently limited to some select sectors only but the trend is catching up across the industries slowly but surely. A significant point to note is that even though the formal flexi work policies may not be there in several companies, flexi working is already in practice in a large number of companies. Long leaves are liberally allowed to employees if they need to attend to old parents at home or a female employee has a small child to take care of. Many companies allow for flexi office time slots to give more leverage on time to the employees. “At Lanco, we allow young mothers long leave options and in case they wish to discontinue for a few years, the option of joining back subject to vacncy on preferential basis is assured” shared Deepak Bharara.
Formal flexi work policies in sectors like construction and turnkey projects will take some time and would be limited to fewer areas like design& procurement function because projects require a lot of physical presence at work. In contrast, the services sector can extensively use the flexi work options for roles where a constant face to face interaction during office hours is not necessary.

India is already E-Touch enabled 

Deepak shared his experience at Samtel where with the support of the CEO he could implement skills ID card which was issued to all the employees based on a robust evaluation system. The skill sets were re-evaluated every three months and either the skill set numbers got reduced or increased depending on the 360 degree evaluation of each employee. This process reduced the need for day to day supervision as self-management with a sense of ownership replaced the old processes. Similar processes can be used to evaluate remote workers on a daily basis.  This is just one example to indicate that many organizations in India are already E-enabled with enough E -Touch points. Resistance to flexi work politics is more of a mind-set issue it will be some time before this becomes the norm rather than the exception.

P-Touch (Personal Touch) will be the key to success in a flexi work environment

P-Touch (Personal Touch) can not be replaced by E-Touch, so it’s critical to redesign roles and jobs in such a way that it encourages inter-dependence among the team members.  This will be the key factor in bonding the employees together in a team. Dependence will nurture team bonding like it does in the real world.  Flexi work policy should ensure that the employees have periodical occasions to meet their colleagues in an informal environment on a face to face basis so that the personal touch is strengthened.

Role of Leaders

Role of leadership will be even more important in managing the personal touch with their teams. Deepak recalled how his CEO at Samtel used to follow the plant’s dress code, visited each plant personally, went through the same security checks, ate the same food and mingled around with the workers to keep a personal connect. This had a great demo effect on others as the followers usually follow the leader and keep a close watch on what the leader says and does.
Deepak shared that this has had such a strong impression on his mind that he tries to walk up to people in his office, visit the company offices and simply talk to people. “Emails, WhatsApp and Smart Phones are very important but none of these can ever replace the personal touch of meeting face to face” said Deepak Bharara.



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