Cognizant asks India employees to work from office thrice a week, internal memo shows

FILE PHOTO: Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of Cognizant logo in this illustration taken, February 19, 2024. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

BENGALURU (Reuters) - U.S.-based IT firm Cognizant said it expects India employees to work from the office at least thrice a week, according to a memo seen by Reuters, becoming the latest company to signal the end of the pandemic-induced remote working era.

Employers cited reasons such as better collaboration and awareness of company culture for the move, but many workers have lamented on social media about the resultant loss of flexibility and work-life balance.

Cognizant CEO Ravi Kumar S said in a memo last week that all India associates are "expected to be in the office an average of three days per week, or as defined by their team leader," without shedding light on the move's effective date.

He urged staff to use the in-person time to prioritise activities "that benefit greatly from being together" such as collaborative projects, training and team building.

Around 254,000 of Cognizant's 347,700 employees are based in India, making it the firm's largest employee base, according to its annual report.

The New Jersey-based company's Indian peers such as Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Wipro mandated employees to return to the office in 2023, with TCS laying down a five-days-a-week schedule.

The Nasdaq-listed Cognizant will launch a new hybrid-work scheduling app for India to help managers coordinate schedules and reserve space in office for their teams, the memo showed.

A spokesperson told Reuters that the firm believed the hybrid model "will define the future of work" and that it remained committed to further expanding into Tier-2 cities across India, where many of its associates live.

Industry watchers welcomed the move.

"We will see a positive impact in terms of operating margin in two-three quarters as such a move by IT firms improves productivity and utilisation levels," said Gaurav Vasu, founder of research firm UnearthInsight.

(Reporting by Sai Ishwarbharath B; Editing by Dhanya Skariachan and Janane Venkatraman)

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