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Permanent work from home not an option for most Hindustan Unilever staff

Hindustan Unilever, the country’s largest consumer goods maker, said the future of work would mean more flexibility, collaboration and open workspaces, though permanent work from home may not be an option for the larger section of the workforce.

Reuters
Mumbai: Hindustan Unilever, the country’s largest consumer goods maker, said the future of work would mean more flexibility, collaboration and open workspaces, though permanent work from home may not be an option for the larger section of the workforce.

“Flexibility will never come in the way of someone choosing to work for HUL — it will be a differentiator. But it doesn’t mean that we will say we will have permanent work from home,” executive director-HR Anuradha Razdan said in an interaction with ET. “Face-to-face interconnection, collaboration and creativity are important.”

It is too early to take a point of view that there will be no need for offices in future or everybody should work from home, Razdan said. “For an organisation like HUL, and for the business that we are in, physical connection, coming together, that innovation that happens when people sit around and brainstorm, the creativity, collaboration are a result of physical connections which are important for the business,” she added.


The company, however, is taking a cautious approach on return to work. Employees will continue to work from home till the time it is deemed safe to start a gradual process of return. If the current rate of decline in infection continues, the Mumbai-headquartered company may start to think of coming back to office by the early part of next year, said Razdan.

“When we open will be determined by health advisory and government’s statistics on steady decline in infection rates, which have to be observed over a period of time and even then, we will give it a few weeks before we decide to start to open offices,” she said.

The company may also consider redesigning its workspaces with more open spaces.
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“We can consider redesigning our workplaces so that people can come together when they need to do so,” said Razdan. “On the other hand, when you want a quiet day and want to work at your desk, then you don’t need to be at the office — that will allow us to reconfigure workspaces and generate economies of space,” she added.

The company is also engaging employees to understand and arrive at the future ways of working. A couple of weeks ago, it launched a “needs and habits” survey of employees.

“We need to understand the circumstances of people individually … which will be governed not just by their own willingness to come (back) to work but also what’s happening in their homes, children, house help and domestic circumstances,” said Razdan.
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