Tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, Shopify, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Coinbase, and several others recently announced their intentions to encourage work from home. While Facebook is planning to move 45,000 employees in the next 5-10 years, companies like Coinbase have already announced its aggressive philosophy to go “remote-first”.
Closer to home, the $191 billion Indian tech industry has seen similar sentiments. Spearheading this change, TCS announced its plan of moving 75% of its workforce, approximately 3,37,500 people, to work from home. Tech Mahindra plans to start with 25% of its workforce.
Nasscom, India’s premier tech industry body, had a meeting with government officials to modify labor laws to suit this trend.
This trend can be greatly beneficial for a country like India. It will not only make it possible for local talent to work for any tech company in the world, but also attract more people to work from India.
India is a hub of tech talent with about 1.5 million engineers graduating every year. But until now, the most lucrative jobs were reserved for those in the Western tech hubs like Silicon Valley.
Work from home will level the playing field for tech hiring. So companies like Facebook can hire people in India just as easily as people in the US. Since they are working from home, geographical proximity loses its importance.
Reverse brain drain
As Naval Ravikant put it, decentralized Silicon Valley will have massive benefits for the rest of the world.
This can be a game-changer for India. When hundreds of thousands of tech workers are allowed to work remotely, they would not like to live in an expensive place like Silicon Valley. The Indian ecosystem needs to create a conducive environment for this talent to re-locate and work from here. India is poised to gain the most because of abundance of tech talent, ideological alignment with the western world, low cost of living, and a great tropical climate.
This can be done by giving long term Nomad / Startup / Remote worker visas based on a fair point-system similar to Australia / Canada’s immigration system. India should plan to attract these remote workers by providing them the necessary infrastructure, robust internet, and a safe working environment.
Of course, it is not going to be a smooth road to shift from office culture to a work from home culture. There are many advantages to face-to-face interaction and the team spirit that can be felt by being in a room with colleagues. These challenges may be solved by VR and technology solutions are already being developed.
The road may not be paved as yet, but we know the direction to go. While those problems are being solved, it is an opportunity to tap into this new global market for talent as well as get a geographical advantage of being a country with tech skills as well as a tropical climate.
“Every organization will increasingly need the ability at a moment’s notice to remote everything from manufacturing to sales, to customer support,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, at the company’s conference.