For a chartered accountant from Bharuch or a technology consultant from Ajmer, a post-pandemic move back to the metropolitan cities where their employers have traditionally had offices may not now be necessary.

Service sector companies, including the Big Four audit majors and technology companies, are making a transition to tier-2 cities and setting up offices at smaller locations to be closer to their employees instead of favouring geographical proximity to clients, in what is being seen as a renewed thrust on developing hub-and-spoke office networks.

This is particularly true for skilled professional workers such as chartered accountants, who comprise roughly 30-40 per cent of the workforce of some the Big Four (Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and Ernst & Young) audit companies, and predominantly come from a small number of states such as Gujarat, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. With these employees preferring to work from closer to their hometowns in smaller locations such as Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, Bhubaneswar, and so on, companies are transitioning to setting up new workplaces in these towns to cater to an increasingly popular post-pandemic trend.

The IT and software services sector, which is among the top organised sector employers, is seeing companies expanding to some of the smaller towns and cities that are emerging as “talent hubs”, looking beyond the traditional campus centres like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune and Gurgaon.

Deloitte India is learnt to have opened new offices in Jaipur and Coimbatore since the pandemic to cater to employees who had earlier worked out of Mumbai or Chennai, with a new office expected in Noida in addition to its hub at Gurgaon. PwC has opened up new workplaces in Bhubaneswar and Jaipur this year and plans to expand in Noida and Thane in due course. Accenture has set up centres in three new locations in India — Jaipur, Indore and Coimbatore. India’s largest software company, Tata Consultancy Services, is looking to expand its presence into regions such as Guwahati and Goa even as Infosys, which had set up offices in Indore and Nagpur, is now planning to expand to Noida, Visakhapatnam, Coimbatore and Kolkata. Tech Mahindra is also setting up physical centres in smaller or non-traditional hubs, including Coimbatore, Visakhapatnam, Nagpur, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Indore and Vijayawada.

A senior executive with one of the Big Four companies said: “Most of the educated workforce here is either from Rajasthan or Gujarat, so they all went back during Covid. Now, with a hybrid working system in place, when they were asked to return to office once or twice a week, they refused. Most of them, in their mid-20s to mid-30s, are from smaller towns such as Ajmer, Bikaner and Jaisalmer in

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