"Most of our new recruits today are fresh from college and require a lot of training and imbibing of work culture. That cannot happen remotely," says Sidhar Vembu, Zoho's co-founder and CEO.
A year ago, Chennai-based Software as a Service (SAAS) firm Zoho Corp held firm to its WFH policy, which received all-around acclaim for its inherent flexibility. It allowed employees to work from home, a hub office or one of the company’s many "spokes" — smaller offices in relatively remote locations that saw a sizeable workforce get together and work. Today, that policy is changing. Zoho wants its employees back in the office. Sidhar Vembu, Zoho's co-founder and CEO thinks it could be an important step from an HR standpoint.
"As our experiences evolved over the last two years, we have evolved too," said Sridhar in an exclusive chat with CNBC-TV18, "Most of our new recruits today are fresh from college and require a lot of training and imbibing of work culture. That cannot happen remotely."
Reports have emerged of managers at Zoho, who have been given a free hand at deciding working modes, nudging employees to return to the office. Sridhar said this was being done to ensure present employees help newer ones feel more welcome at the workplace.
"We noticed that when we brought in two or three thousand people over the last couple of years, those people were struggling to integrate with the company," he said, "I began getting questions at open house sessions where employees told me 'I've been here six months and haven’t met' anyone, or 'I feel isolated and lonely' or 'I would like more interaction'."
Sridhar added: "The new employees told me they need the office, and that’s when I realised that experienced employees could contribute by training these employees, which wasn’t happening enough. So, I felt an office environment was important."
Incidentally, Zoho’s enterprise IT software platform, ManageEngine has decided to expand, announcing plans to open five new centres and recruit 1,000 more employees this year. ManageEngine, described by Sridhar as "Zoho’s lesser-known cousin" contributes nearly half of Zoho’s annual revenues. The expansion will be met with new offices in new towns.
"We are planning a hub-and-spoke model where we will build locations primarily in rural areas but not far from cities — locations close to Madurai, Tirunelveli, Coimbatore, and Trichy," said Sridhar, "We are planning to expand in North India too. A lot of hiring for ManageEngine will be done in metros so as to support enterprise customers in areas like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, and Hyderabad."
Zoho is bullish on ManageEngine largely on account of enterprise IT management holding the promise of rapid growth. "ManageEngine is well placed in the market, in the enterprise IT management segment and the opportunity is tremendous for us," said Sridhar, "We think it could be a 5-to-10-billion-dollar business for us, and we are investing heavily for the long haul. We are expecting 20 to 25 percent growth per year, and these are conservative estimates. So, we could double revenues in the next three to four years."