ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd had been on the lookout for a new office for some months now. The parent company of India’s largest ride-hailing service Ola finally found its home in September—a 425,000 sq ft office space in Koramangala, a startup hub in India’s southern city of Bengaluru. The size of seven football fields combined, it represents the latest stage in Ola’s evolution—bringing together the six offices it has scattered across the city.

With the announcement came a diktat. Employees who were working remotely across the country were asked to return to Bengaluru. The office could be operational at any moment, they were told. The company expects to open the “state of the art” facility by January 2021. 

The new headquarters come at a time when Ola is desperate to arrest the downturn that came with the Covid-19 pandemic. Revenue from its core ride-hailing business was down 95% at one point. In May, the company axed 1,500 people across various divisions and categories to trim “extra fat”, rejigging its various teams as well. Top-level executives also also The Economic Times Arun Srinivas, who until recently was Ola’s chief operating officer and global chief marketing officer resigned in July Read more left left Financial Express PayU India cofounder Nitin Gupta, who joined Ola Financial Services (OFS) in December 2017, has stepped down as its CEO Read more  the company.

A senior executive who works closely with Ola’s founding team said the company’s driver support unit, customer support units, and walk-in centres were all culled or scaled down significantly. Certain categories, such as ride-sharing, were stopped altogether, and people within these teams either left the company or were reassigned. “There was a lot of realignment of roles. At the same time, you can imagine with the business going to zero, there were also roles that practically became redundant,” said the senior executive.

“Obviously there is a lot of confusion because of all of this,” said a former Ola executive, one among hundreds who left the company recently in search of more “happening” jobs outside mobility. “One day you are part of one team, next day you are part of some other team. Also, work from home takes a toll because you are part of a team and you have not met some people.”

The company’s hierarchy also sowed its share of chaos. As messages travelled down from the top of the company, there was distortion at each level. The resultant outcomes lead to frustration among the company’s leadership. 

By consolidating its operations in its new fortress—one capable of housing close to 5,000 employees—Ola hopes to bring about order, even as its business is more sprawling than ever before.

AUTHOR

Pranav Balakrishnan

Pranav writes about the business of moving people and things around, i.e, mobility and e-commerce. Over the past two years, he has written about Ola, Tesla, Flipkart, Amazon, and the increasing role played by Reliance Industries in the Indian technology story. Pranav joined The Ken from Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, specialising in business journalism.

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