With work from home having become the new norm for most Indian startups due to mandatory social distancing during the pandemic, many people have lost their work-life balance. It tended to be fragile for many even before COVID-19 reared its ugly head.
To restore this balance among its employees, OYO, the hospitality startup unicorn in India, has just announced several new, albeit interesting, initiatives and changes targeting specific problems remote work has been discovered to create. For instance, it has become more apparent that working from home often results in employees being expected to work outside of working hours, sometimes even on weekends. This can lead to burn-out as employees now lack a separation between their work and resting environment.
OYOpendence Day, Weekend Curfews, and More
To improve employee satisfaction and promote work-life balance, OYO has announced an impromptu holiday for its employees on August 17, Monday. For this surprise holiday, employees will be allowed to skip the Monday Blues for next week. OYO has dubbed this as the OYOpendence day, as it falls right after Independence Day, a mandatory government holiday which unfortunately falls on the weekend this year.
Going forward, employees will not be obligated to answer work calls, emails or messages outside of working hours. OYO has imposed a weekend curfew for all its employees in which work responsibilities will not spill out of the designated 5 day Monday-Friday window.
To further promote this, executive and managerial officials have been asked not to schedule any meetings on Monday, the first day of the work week. This will allow employees to relax on the weekends instead of prepare for a meeting and experience consequent stress.
Additionally, to make working-days more flexible and balanced, employees have been given the liberty to block their work calendars for personal activities such as meals, silent time, and personal time. They can also use this time to pursue a hobby. Essentially, the concept is to hand the employee control over leisure and non-work necessities even during the week.
Lastly, OYO employees can also avail a CureFit gym membership at a 50% discount. This cost will be borne by the company, but only until a year from now. This is possibly due to the company expecting to call back its employees to the office by next year.
Phased Pay Cut Reversals and an Expected Decision on the Furloughs
According to Amanda Stansell, a senior analyst at Glassdoor, “some of [the best companies for work-life balance] have really great paid-time-off policies, flexible working schedules, good parental leave, sabbaticals, and gym credits.” OYO doesn’t tick off all of these boxes but it has now incorporated more flexibility and a gym membership into its post-pandemic employee satisfaction regime.
On the paid leave front, however, the company doesn’t seem to be doing great. Recently the company’s employees suffered pay cuts due to COVID related losses. Many employees have also been furloughed for an indefinite period, a decision which dissatisfied a large chunk of the workforce who were of the view that being fired would leave them with more options. OYO is expected to announce a decision regarding the furloughs by the end of this month.
The company seems to be slowly adjusting and adapting to the times. Starting this month, they have partially reversed the pay cuts for employees who earn up to 8 lacs per annum. In October, higher-level employees will also be compensated. The company hopes to restore salaries completely by December 2020. As of now, OYO reports functioning at 30% of their pre-pandemic levels.