Cover story

Workplace 2.0 – RPG’s pioneering Remote Working Policy

In September 2020, the RPG Group launched its new Remote Working Policy as a new way of working that goes beyond physical offices, factories and other locations.

As economic activity came to a standstill in the early months of the pandemic and people continued to struggle between managing their personal and professional lives, businesses could no longer ignore the value and efficiency that employee-first policies bring. As a result, more companies have begun to adjust to the new norm of working from home during the past few months, even as some have reverted to the physical office mode.

At RPG Group, though, this wasn’t a difficult choice to make. In fact, the transition to remote working was seamless, from the word go. The Group has been at the forefront of digital adoption, backed by contemporary employee-first policies, for some time. These have helped strengthen the Group’s inclusive, diverse and enabling work culture. The pre-existing policies that supported work-from-home options and flexible working hours had already demonstrated RPG’s commitment to the wellbeing of its employees, and therefore made the current shift easier.

A policy that challenges the modern-day corporate culture

For most global companies, the concept of work-from-home (WFH) was nothing short of a disruption; a knee-jerk reaction to the pandemic and one that required considerable rethink about operating practices. Many companies considered moving a part of their workforce to a permanent remote working roster, while some contemplated having their staff work from home for half of the time.

On the other hand, RPG’s early adoption of technology had positioned it ahead in the game. No wonder, over the past few months, except those engaged in manufacturing operations, every single employee of the Group's global workforce adapted to remote working, with no measurable dip observed in employee productivity or efficiency. This helped sow the seeds for the much-celebrated Remote Working Policy at RPG.

Importantly, this path-breaking policy was conceived at a time when corporate India was still grappling with the new WFH reality. Instead of waiting for the future to unfold, the Group decided to build a promising one for its employees.

Our new WFH policy shatters the notions around traditional workspaces and productivity. Employees who are not operating machines or do not have a client obligation can work from anywhere, even after the pandemic is behind us. It aligns with our vision of 'touching lives' and the brand promise of 'happiness.”

Harsh Goenka, Chairman, RPG Group

The birth of the new policy

The concept of remote working can be challenging for a conglomerate with such varied business interests, diverse job profiles and global scale of operations as RPG. To account for these aspects in the ‘new normal’, it was imperative to bring the collective wisdom and experience of its people in various functions and roles, to the table.

When the mandate to formulate this policy came through, the next immediate step was to create a task force for the said agenda. Nominations were received from the HR Leadership teams in Group companies, following which a team of resourceful and next-gen RPGians came together to deliver one of its most revolutionary polices.

Each member of the task force, though equipped with rich experience and insights, was challenged by one tricky problem – how to create a single policy that is location and workplace agnostic? Based on the need to unify remote working, four categories eventually emerged. These took into consideration all roles, functions, demographics, and companies in the Group.

What sets the new RPG Remote Working Policy apart is that it empowers employees by giving them the choice to work remotely, for a significant number of days in a month. This is expected to not only improve the wellbeing and quality of life of employees, but also enhance organisational productivity and effectiveness.

The Remote Working Policy applies to all permanent employees of RPG Group companies. Each company will classify all its employees, irrespective of work location, or their nature of work, across four broad groups:

  • Group A: Employees in roles and job families who cannot work from remote locations. Owing to the nature of their work, it is imperative for them to be physically present at the workplace. This group of employees will be considered exempt from this policy and cannot work remotely.
  • Group B: Employees who are contractually required by clients, or by statute (e.g. employees working out of SEZ premises) to carry out their work from identified locations only. This group of employees will also be considered exempt from this policy and cannot work remotely.
  • Group C: Employees, roles, and job families identified and mandated to work remotely on a permanent basis. This will also include employees in locations where there is no specified RPG office or work location.
  • Group D: All other employees.


RPG Group sets a benchmark once again by launching India’s first and permanent WFH policy that no longer needs us to go to our workplaces every day – even beyond these unprecedented COVID times, across locations and geographies, spanning offices, IT campuses, factories, project sites, plantations, estates, and any other work locations of all RPG Group companies.”

Supratik BHATTACHARYYA, Chief Talent Officer, RPG Group

Going digital, no longer a choice

While some might argue that this is an extreme reaction to the pandemic which is likely to end at some point, this policy has been welcomed by all. COVID-19 may have precipitated the current WFH scenario, but something like this was inevitable in the larger scheme of things. The RPG Group has been at the forefront of digital adaptability compared to most other Indian conglomerates, and therefore the transition to remote working was only a matter of time.

With a work-from-home policy in place long before COVID-19, employees were happy to utilise it to their benefit. RPGians today are more than capable of operating machines, managing projects in the toughest of terrains, and collaborating with teams from across the globe – all remotely. This remote managing of a multi-cluster workforce, moving mission-critical workloads from office to home, operating machines remotely, etc., are just a few key facets that are integral to the Group’s evolution.

The core team is prepared for any exigencies or technical snags, and to ensure that employee efficiency, engagement and experience are not affected as the new policy rolls out. At the company-level, HR teams continue to work towards providing adequate infrastructure support for those eligible to avail the policy as well as those who wish not to, with planned interventions to ensure seamless continuity of the policy.

Are we moving towards becoming robotic to the human touch?

A bigger question here is this – as the lines between work and personal life continue to blur, will employees be faced with a life devoid of any respite or break for the mind and body? Some may even argue that there are many problems that virtual workplaces can’t provide solutions to. However, it may perhaps be noteworthy to understand that we have become conditioned to this style of working, without realising it.

For instance, remember the meeting that could have been an email? If working from home has taught us one thing, it is that technology has delivered solutions for nearly everything. Today, the tools that we use are much more collaborative in nature so we don’t miss out much on the human touch. So, unless one needs to be physically present to operate machinery or at a construction site, most job profiles have evolved reasonably well to remote working.

Importantly, RPG continues to put people first, both in principle and in practice. The Group has instituted a system of tracking the physical and mental health of its employees since the lockdown commenced, and has brought on board experts to provide guidance in this area. Group insurance policies have been extended to family members of employees so that they receive better Mediclaim benefits at an affordable premium – and this was even before COVID-19 came into the picture. Teams are being encouraged to maintain regular work hours, and managers are being sensitised to avoid calling them during family or personal time.

Hello Happiness, is it me you’re looking for?

The RPG Group is the first Indian diversified conglomerate to create and launch such a policy. This trailblazing Employee-First policy is setting global benchmarks on:

a) How companies can work for the best interests of their people
b) Benefits and infrastructure support to ensure smooth remote working

This policy has been made for the people and by the people who work with RPG. It is only the beginning of a revolutionary culture in the realm of Happiness at work, something that is deeply entrenched in RPG’s vision tenets. While turnover, numbers and data points can all be quantified, happiness, contentment, and fulfilment cannot.

The RPG Group now stands tall among its corporate peers in setting a new trend in work flexibility, at a time when the pandemic is dispelling entrenched notions about jobs and business.

As we like to say: At RPG, people always come first.

We are delighted to launch a far-reaching WFH policy across all RPG companies. The RPG Remote Working Policy is for perpetuity and not just for the COVID-19 phase. We would be the first diversified conglomerate to implement such a policy.

We always had a WFH policy for our office staff up to a few days in a month. But this new policy will extend to even our factories, plantations, sales offices, etc. If you are not physically required to be at your workplace e.g. a shop floor employee or a security officer, you could avail of this policy.

Our new normal is 50% WFH or WFA (Work from Anywhere), going up to 75% in certain cases. This will also help us rationalise our office real estate space and enable hot desking. What is noteworthy and unique is this policy is industry-agnostic and covers employees in all our group companies in all geographies around the world, including CEOs and senior leadership.”