As the pandemic and the resultant lockdown forced all companies to take the virtual approach, hotel and hospitality unicorn OYO is experimenting with a ‘hybrid workplace model’ to help the company operate in full capacity without compromising on the health and safety of its employees.
OYO has now divided its workforce into three categories — corporate employees, capability functions and field staff. Dinesh Ramamurthi, chief human resources officer at OYO explained that the field staff is already stepping out and attending office following all the health and safety protocols, whereas employees in the other two categories can choose to work from home or ‘work from anywhere’. You are reading this first on Inc42.
The corporate employees and capability functions staff also have the option to choose from flexible coworking centres offered by OYO Workspaces, which is OYO’s coworking space arm. This hybrid workplace model besides allowing OYO employees to maintain social distancing norms, also provides flexible working hours. The hospitality giant claims that it has seen an improvement in productivity with the latest working model.
Ritesh Malik, founder at Innov8, which was acquired by OYO last year, said, “The co-working industry is seeing more companies opting for the availability of flexible office solutions and co-working models to reduce long term blockage of capital in leases and furniture. Going forward, work from home options will increase however; there’s an opportunity for co-working players like ours where companies are collaborating with us to develop work from home units as well. Once the lockdown eases and as the workforce returns, adoption of the nearest co-working offices for employees is also going to increase.”
OYO Gives Up Its Headquarters In Gurugram, Looks To Renegotiate Other Offices
With this hybrid working model, OYO has also given up leases of two of its flagship corporate offices in Gurugram invoking the ‘force majeure’ clause which provides a temporary reprieve to a party from performing its obligations under a contract due to natural calamities. The Gurugram offices include OYO’s headquarter at Udyog Vihar and another office space in Spaze Palazo. OYO said it is also negotiating to terminate the lease on a third property at Capital Cyberscape which spreads over to 1.50 Lakh square feet.
Last week, a property consultant aware about the development told Economic Times that OYO had paid somewhere around INR 60 per square feet for the office space at Capital Cyberscape, but that property has also now come to the market to be leased out. The consultant also noted that OYO is estimated to have paid rent of around INR 1.9 Cr a month across the three properties.
OYO spokesperson had confirmed the development to Inc42 without going into the specifics. The spokesperson said, “We are reconsidering office space requirements and revisiting our contracts with landlords not just in Gurgaon, but across the country, to arrive at mutually acceptable terms, while operating within the realm of the contractual terms and conditions.”
Virtual Sessions For Making Hybrid Workplace Model A Workable Solutions
Meanwhile, OYO has also rolled out several employee-centric initiatives to boost employee morale. The hospitality giant is hosting virtual coffee sessions ‘CEO-Club’ with its leaders, along with a skip-level, monthly rewards and recognition meet. The CEO-Club is a recognition programme by Rohit Kapoor, who is the CEO of OYO India and South Asia.
The company also recently hosted its first-ever ‘Virtual Family Day’ to build better interpersonal bonds among OYOPrenuers, launched its learning management system OYOVersity that includes lessons on leadership and productivity while working remotely. OYOVersity also includes an additional Covid-19 module to communicate necessary precautions and health advisories to OYOprenuers across geographies.
Additionally, the company also launched an internal tech support platform, OYO Seek, to resolve most technology-dependent concerns in a timely manner. All these efforts have been taken to make OYO’s latest hybrid working model a success.
The company’s ‘Employee Well-being & Assistance Programme (EWAP)’ will also be offering consultation services to its employees where they can confidentially avail professional support to improve their emotional well being. EWAP benefits include unlimited phone counselling, access to an eight-week online behavioral therapy programme among others. The company aims to enable its employees to lead a fuller, stress-free life given the changing work environment.
Recently, the company had decided to offer a deeply discounted employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), which will make each and every employee a shareholder in the company.
Pandemic Hits OYO Hard, But OYO Still Hopeful
Like any other travel tech company, Covid-19 pandemic has hit OYO financially. The company’s founder and CEO Ritesh Agarwal had come on record to confirm OYO’s occupancy rate and revenues have dropped by more than 50% to 60% and the company’s balance sheet has come under severe stress. Though Indian government has lifted the lockdown, but Covid-19 cases have still been growing exponentially. As of July 21, India has more than 1.15 Mn Covid-19 positive cases. Meanwhile, other countries have also been recording at a similar pace.
Speaking at the ‘Ask Me Anything’ webinar hosted by Inc42, Agarwal noted that the explained that the company first stopped all the controllable costs, and focused on the least amount of layoffs and also opted for furloughs. Among the several choices that it had, Agarwal said he tried to choose the lesser evil. Talking about the new trends in the hospitality industry, he added that contactless check-in will be a huge opportunity.
The OYO chief had also pointed out certain issues on the customers and hotel partners front that it will be focusing on.