Written by Paul Bailey, RW3 CultureWizard
Over the years I’ve gained valuable insights from RES Forum’s research reports, as well as their forums and survey findings. In return, I’ve contributed my thoughts on a range of mobility areas, usually from an intercultural and inclusiveness perspective. It’s a particular pleasure to contribute to this report, as India is always near the top of our agenda.
India is a huge, diverse country, with a fascinating blend of customs, tendencies and expectations. These are dependent on region, age, education, religion, socioeconomic background, international exposure and ethnic or racial identities. It’s also home to a growing and diversified economy, with one of the world’s largest technology and software industries. Oh, and the world’s largest film industry! It represents both a massive market for overseas business and an emerging source of talent and is set to be an increasingly important destination for international business, as well as a growing economic and political presence on the world stage.
The youth are taking over
The dynamic nature of Indian society is driven by its youthful population. Over half the population is under the age of 25, and their generation have grown up in a markedly different world from their parents. They are creating a demographic shift and bringing about changes in the workplace.
Notably, the millennial generation in India tends to have more fluid attitudes than their forbears about a range of issues, including social issues like religious practices and LGBT+ rights.
While globalisation had a strong economic and social impact on workplace dynamics in India, the impact is inevitably uneven in such a large and diverse country. Consequently, while some work environments and processes may seem very Western, others may openly embrace more traditional values.
All of this rapid change and diversity results in many different perspectives on the country from outside, and sometimes results in misconceptions about the prospects, perceived dangers and opportunities of working within it. Our experiences of inbound mobility resonate with the idea that improved knowledge of Indian culture, society and language is an effective way to counteract these misconceptions. What’s more, it can help highlight the enormous possibilities of working with, and within, India.
The report touches on some essential institutional and regulatory hurdles to overcome when employing remote workers. These hurdles cover immigration, taxation, data protection and anti-corruption laws, and can be overlooked or misunderstood, with the potential to cause great disruption to businesses. We have been fortunate to be involved in various international remote working projects to foster greater understanding and effective virtual co-working with Indian colleagues.
It’s easy to recognise the significant operational benefits of remote working. However, there are some less obvious cultural challenges that can be exasperated by the virtual workspace, with potential to impair team performance. For international employees working with Indian colleagues, these are likely to revolve around the differences that make India such a unique and vibrant culture: relatively indirect communication styles, particular approaches to working in hierarchies, and the different ways relationships are managed. However, these differences are specific to individuals, and should be addressed as such, to optimise the performance of culturally diverse, remote teams.
Domestically, there is a lot of debate about the pros and cons of remote working and how effective and prevalent it will be within Indian-based businesses of future. Tata Consultancy Services, India’s largest infotech and outsourcing company with approximately 450,000 employees, reported recently that it would move 75 percent of its employees to work from home permanently by 2025. This represents a radical change, although it may not reflect the typical future approach among Indian business. As with many aspects of Indian society and business, these practices are changing quickly, contributing to a rapidly developing landscape for employers, whether domestic or international.
This report delivers an extremely valuable, concise and data-driven overview of the current and future outlook for mobility in India. Ranging from regulatory and benefits environments to the nature of remote working, plus a valuable view of mobility from the HR professional and RMC viewpoints. I congratulate everyone associated with conducting the study and preparing this report as it brings us closer to a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by mobility professionals in relation to this fascinating country.
This piece is from The RES Forum’s research paper – India, Regional Research Special. You can download the paper here.
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About RW3 CultureWizard
Since 2001, RW3 CultureWizard has helped hundreds of companies and over 5 million employees around the world develop the inclusive collaborative environments that organizations need to drive outstanding business results.
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