Women’s participation in workforce could get a boost with enterprises embracing the work from home (WFH) model as they will get flexibility in managing both their homes and work, Salesforce India CEO Arundhati Bhattacharya said on Thursday.
Speaking at the Global Fintech Fest 2020, Bhattacharya said the COVID-19 pandemic has not only changed the perception of WFH not being effective but is also re-shaping the workplace.
She said the workforce participation of women in India is actually falling but the country has a large number of well-trained women who are sitting at home, not able to work because they can’t get out of the house as they are the primary caregivers. “Imagine the flexibility which these women can then get because this can be the primary caregiver and work.” The former SBI chairperson said that when women quit their jobs to be caregivers, it is often difficult for them to get back in and even when they re-join the workforce, they join at lower levels than their peers who have moved up in careers by then.
“So, I think the flexibility that this (situation) has created is actually very good for all of us,” she said.
The former banker said people tend to believe that allowing people to work from home would not be very productive.
“However, the lockdown has forcefully conducted that experiment and shown us that WFH can be just as productive…we’ve got to not only change the way people work, but our thoughts about what a workplace should look like,” she added.
On the current situation impacting the future of banks, Bhattacharya said going forward, workplaces will begin to look different.
“Brick and mortar, while it will still be there because at the end of the day, people trust a bank which can be seen easily. But, the importance of the brick and mortar will come down,” she said adding that customers continue to access their banks and conduct transactions from the comfort of their homes.
“So, nowhere am I saying that we are looking at a world where the workplaces will disappear altogether, that’s not going to happen soon. It will shrink, it will become flexible,” she said.
Noting that organisations globally are collaborating digitally for new products and solutions while maintaining social distance, Bhattacharya said employee productivity can be at envisaged levels even in these times.
“You will find that when employees are less stressed, they are actually working better,” she said and cited the example of Salesforce’s research and development team in India that has filed four patents with some more pending amid the current situation.