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MUMBAI : Candidates willing to work from the office will be preferred over those seeking remote work, recruiters said, as companies become increasingly concerned about building and sustaining culture while employees are working remotely.

“Teamwork cannot happen remotely. This robotic work culture had to be adopted during the pandemic, but now physical attendance is needed," said Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder of staffing firm TeamLease Services.

She added that now even new hires for support systems are being asked to come to the office during the interviews. “You can switch off video, go on mute, and doing this continuously impacts productivity," Chakraborty said.

The challenge for companies to get workers to return is complicated by the fact that many employees had left cities for their hometowns during the pandemic to save on costs or be with their families.

While many of their employees remain reluctant to return to offices, companies want new recruits to join offices to understand the company culture and connect with their colleagues.

“All our clients in the infrastructure, manufacturing and pharma sectors have asked for the new recruits to work from offices. However, it is tech and the startups who are still comfortable with the hybrid work culture," said Aditya Narayan Mishra, director of CIEL HR Services.

The push to get newcomers to head to offices is also to avoid high attrition among them.

On 28 February, Mint reported that employees are quitting in the one-thee months of joining a new firm. Recruiters termed the phenomenon as “infant mortality" wherein newcomers to a firm realized they were not the right fit and wanted to head back to a familiar workplace. Companies have informed recruiters that they want to avoid this high attrition and build more connections.

The hybrid working method is not working for the middle to senior management in the startup sector.

“Where you lived did not matter in the two years of the pandemic, but now it does. Despite being tech-savvy, startup clients say work culture cannot be built remotely," said Dony Kuriakose, director, Edge Executive Search.

The director of the search firm added that while all candidates ask if work from home is an option, they are told that even if it is hybrid now, offices will become mandatory very soon.

The push for office is so strong that companies have changed their location options in case of senior hires, said Srinivas Nanduri, partner India and emerging markets, Maxima Global Executive search.

One of his clients hired senior executives from Gurugram, Singapore, Bengaluru for a new setup in Bengaluru. They were given the option of work from home, but now as restrictions lifted, that option was taken away. “The seniors have been asked to head to Bengaluru and set up their teams, work together for a while," Nanduri said.

Recruiters say there is no change in salary structures or incentives given to employees for coming back to work. In most cases, even if the company is not ready to get the workforce back, the new recruits are told to come to the office at least two-three times a week.

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