Auto companies turn to hybrid culture to office

Jeep, the iconic American all-terrain vehicle maker, will close its 4,500 square foot office in the prime location of Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai in December.

The manufacturer of the Compass SUV will move some of its office workstations to the company’s technical center office in Pune, while the majority of office workers will work from home or remotely.

As life gradually returns to normal after the pandemic, many conglomerates around the world are embracing the long-term hybrid work model because of the cost savings they have witnessed over the past year and a half. In the Indian auto industry, factories are 100% staffed, but many office positions are managed remotely, although most companies have yet to decide on the length of the deal.

Jeep’s move is in line with that of Stellantis, its Netherlands-based parent company which has implemented a “new era of agility” program, which requires only 30% of employees to work from offices. Citroën, the French automobile brand of Stellantis which recently entered India, is also adopting the model.

Citroën India is not renewing the lease of its large office in Chennai and has demanded that only 30% of employees must come to the office on a list basis. He is exploring options if he could move to a much smaller office space or co-working spaces in Chennai, people in the present said.

The closure of Jeep’s Mumbai office and Citroën’s move, which came after some US carmakers left India, have raised concerns in the industry.

But Stellantis sees it as usual, with its spokesperson claiming that Jeep has just moved its Mumbai office to the much more profitable Pune location.

The organization, which recently appointed Nipun Mahajan to lead the Jeep brand and Saurabh Vatsa to lead the Citroën brand in India, tries to ensure “best operational efficiency” while keeping the well-being of employees in mind, said the spokesperson.

“We are streamlining our processes… we are in the process of moving our office in Pune to be closer to our Ranjangaon JV manufacturing facility, engineering operations and parts distribution center in Chakan. We also offer our employees the flexibility of a hybrid work system, as our employee base is spread across Mumbai, Pune and Chennai, ”added the spokesperson for Stellantis.

The decision of the multinational automaker, resulting from the merger of the Italian-American Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the French group PSA, is likely to be reproduced in the long term by several other companies also in the sector. Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors are already operating on the hybrid model. Work from home to office work ratios may vary from company to company.

A spokesperson for Tata Motors told ET that the company has switched to a hybrid working model from February 2021 and that this will continue even beyond the pandemic, as this model has been well received by its customers. employees, which made it a success and led to a more fluid and resilient digital. Workforce.

Working out of the office and at home / remotely is also a profitable combination, he added.

But employees in some critical functions will need to work from their desks on a regular basis.

In industry, much of the administrative and operational work is still done remotely. More than a half-dozen automakers, including Renault, Toyota Kirloskar and Honda, are also reviewing their office leases and have shifted some of the roles to smaller setups or working from home.

Honda Cars India said its corporate and field offices maintain a 50% attendance list. Even when the risk situation normalizes, it is possible to work from home for some positions at the Japanese automaker.

Rajesh Uppal, head of human resources at the country’s largest automaker, Maruti Suzuki, said that areas where remote working is possible, the hybrid mode of working has been institutionalized.

“We resumed operations following all security protocols. In accordance with the needs of the business and the nature of the work, more people come to the office in certain areas such as production. We continue to assess the situation, the health and safety of employees remains our top priority, ”Uppal added.

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