With majority of the IT companies choosing to let their employees continue work-from-home till next year due to the pandemic, the city neighbourhoods which had once catered to them are now wearing a deserted look with many rented apartments currently sitting vacant and small businesses which had mushroomed with the IT boom struggling to stay afloat.
Particularly hard hit are areas like Madhapur and Kondapur, adjoining the IT Hub around Cyber Towers area and Gacchibowli which all had prospered thanks to the IT crowd.
Once bustling neighbourhoods with hostels for working men and women, apartments rented out to software employees and shops which had sprung up overnight to meet their demands, these localities have clearly lost their buzz.
Earlier on Sunday mornings, small eateries serving breakfasts and other meals to the software professional staying at hostels and rented apartments were usually thronged by crowds. But not anymore. Their brisk businesses were hard hit during the lock down but even after regulations were relaxed, their customers have not returned.
Although the lock down ended, the IT companies have allowed their employees to work from home. Hence, during the ‘unlock’ period the employees came back to Hyderabad for a day or two, packed away their belongings and returned to their home towns.
The private hostels dotting the heart of Madhapur area are all vacant. So are the apartments which were rented by IT employees. A number of apartments, are displaying “to let” notices,as well as the commercial spaces because small businesses are unable to stay afloat without the IT crowd.
As S Ravikanti pointed out: “My friend owns 12 single BHK flats in Kondapur. The last tenant is leaving this month. Now all are sitting empty as everyone have gone back to their hometowns.” Many of those working in the city’s IT sector hail from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. Initially after the lock down was announced the software employees kept paying rents because they thought they would have come back and join their workplace. But with many of the IT giants announcing work-from-home policy till next August, they chose to let go of their rented apartments.
Sabrunissa, a women employee who hails from Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur came to Hyderabad in the last week of July to vacate the apartment. “I can stay with my parents and continue working from home. My senior at work told me the company is not going to revoke its work-from-home policy anytime soon. So there is no point in paying rent or for other utilities like wifi, electricity and water” she said.
But it is not only the landlords or hostel owners who have been hit hard by the work from home policy. There were a large number of smaller firms, renting plug and play office spaces in Madhapur area which lies adjacent to the IT Park, Raheja Mindspace.
They too are closed with the employees working from home.
Akram who used to supply packaged drinking water bottles to homes and offices in Madhapur has been hit hard by the loss of business.
“I used to supply water to offices in this area apart from residents and hostels. With employees going home, I hardly have any customers left.” These neighbourhoods once were the hunting grounds of the nobility in Nizam area with a rocky terrain and jungles which were cleared out to make way for the IT hub during the tenure of Chandrababu Naidu as CM in early 2000. The area witnessed unplanned growth and a real estate boom with apartments, and hostels mushrooming overnight.