Adapt, align and be agile
It is 8.50 a.m. on a Monday and software engineer Mansavi logs into her laptop. Soon there is a Zoom call by Kishore, her team manager, about the tasks to be done for the day. She gets on to her work like any other day, except, Mansavi is working from a village 110 km from Bengaluru and two of her team mates are working remotely from their villages across Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
This is “Work from native place” which is the new trend, reminding you that about 2/3rd of the talent working in Bengaluru are not from the city. Will work from anywhere be the norm of tomorrow? With improved digital connectivity, it it is a reality today and can connect all in at least a few industries.
The life in the city has always charmed the young who looked at cities as the future which offers reward and quality of life, also an opportunity to own property and better education to their children. The story of the last 100 years of mankind has been the story of the man moving to cities. The pandemic created a reverse short-term migration for a whole lot of techies. It’s a first but may not be the last.
Tech companies have always been reluctant to move into tier-2 or tier-3 cities, citing lack of talent and inability to pursue top talent to move into smaller cities. The pandemic has changed all that. Simply adapt or die is the mantra not only for an organization but a whole new generation of tech talent. The idea of the office as a work location has rebooted and given way to “work from anywhere” which was unthinkable.
Bengaluru is the Mecca of tech in south Asia and is also a leader in service industries. It has created million-plus jobs for all kinds of techies, skilled workers, and also unskilled workmen in the last two decades. But now, ‘work from home’, or simply WFH, is the standard in Bengaluru for techies and other high-tech jobholders. Visit to the office is on ‘absolute must meet’ basis only. Business travel has dwindled to bare 10% or less for both entrepreneurs and corporates. We see a whole lot of businesses reinventing themselves to adapt to the new reality.
Will Bengaluru have the same charm left to attract talent across the nation post the pandemic? What happens to the whole support service system, transport and housing infra that depend on the growth of the tech industry in the future? Bengaluru has taken a massive hit on its service economy as it lost over two lakh jobs during the pandemic, this includes techies, manufacturing workers, cab drivers, hospitality workers and the entire support ecosystem. However, like any global city, Bengaluru is bouncing back with resilience and energy.
The pandemic has tested our ability to adapt and be agile. I believe we have passed the test. As someone born here and seen the IT industry grow in the last 30 years and the city from a population of 5 million people to now 10 million people, it is a relief to see smile back on the faces of a regular Bengaluru citizen even though we are halfway in fighting the pandemic.
Back to roots
Bengaluru goes where the techie goes and the techies who went back to their rural roots during the pandemic might have just opened whole new ideas. A bunch of smart techies spending time in villages and smaller towns can bring in benefits as well. They may be able to help smaller rural communities to connect their business to the online market.
This may not be the last of the pandemics we will see, and as a knowledge city, Bengaluru has learnt how to adapt, align and be agile to remain in the race for who we are: the silicon valley of Asia.
(Murthy B.S. is a talent researcher and head hunter based in Bengaluru.)