After about two years, several offices started opening back. The pandemic has not yet died down, but the severity is not like before. For offices – big and small – this is what calls for finishing work from home. But it is not what employees want, at least in the case of one of India’s premier edtech firms, WhiteHat Jr. Over 800 employees of WhiteHat Jr. have reportedly put down their papers in the last 60 days as they were asked to return to the office.
As reported by Inc42, employees from different sections of WhiteHat Jr., which was acquired by Byju’s, voluntarily resigned as they did not want to resume work from office. These were full-time employees from the coding startup’s sales, coding, and math teams. WhiteHat Jr began asking employees to return to offices in Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Gurugram by sending out emails on March 18, giving them a month’s time for relocation. What followed was an en masse resignation.
“As part of our back-to-work drive, most of our Sales and Support employees have been asked to report to Gurgaon and Mumbai offices since April 18. We have made exceptions for medical and personal exigencies and have offered relocation assistance as required. Our teachers will continue to work from home, “a WhiteHat Jr. spokesperson told Business Today.
The move to end work from home disgruntled employees. “The company was clearly running at a loss. This was a cost-cutting exercise to reduce its expenses without ruining their name in the market, ”one of the employees who resigned told Inc42. He added that one month’s time is not enough and that “it is not right to call back employees in such a short period of time.”
While calling employees back to the office is said to be the biggest reason why the mass resignations happened, the report also speculated that some employees quit because of salaries. WhiteHat Jr. has dismissed the allegations, but it has not said how, because employees said they had spoken to the company’s human resources department about how their salaries were not enough to support expenses for when they were supposed to work from office.
The edtech bubble burst
India’s edtech industry boomed right after the pandemic forced physical institutions to shut down their doors. Since most of these schools, colleges, and institutions were not prepared for something like the pandemic, they never invested in an online learning system. This benefitted India’s edtech firms, which clocked a massive increase in user base. According to a report by Tata Elxsi, Edtech giant Byju’s added 7.5 million new users during the lockdown, while Toppr saw a 100 percent increase in the paid subscriber base. These edtech startups also saw an uptick in funding during the same time. Between January 2020 and December 2021, the startups raised total funding of $ 6.1 billion.
But the bubble had to burst. During the lockdown and months after that, edtech firms such as WhiteHat Jr and its parent company Byju’s faced severe criticism for the kind of advertisements they ran to woo customers. People slammed the firms for instilling unrealistic expectations in kids. While all of this eventually died down, the fear that the remote learning system would soon be over began to haunt these firms. With schools reopening at full capacity earlier this year and other educational institutions bouncing back to normalcy, the relevance of edtech firms began to fade away. Moreover, investors also began to tighten their purse strings, causing edtech firms to cut their costs.
Recently, firms such as Vedantu and Unacademy fired a total of 1,200 employees in the name of cost-cutting.