Ola’s U-turn on layoff plans; halts decision to fire nearly 200 engineers

The Ola group has decided to pause the layoff of nearly 200 engineers, according to sources. It was earlier planning to cut 200 jobs as part of a restructuring exercise across its engineering verticals, in a bid to centralise operations, minimise redundancy, and build a strong lateral structure that strengthens relevant roles and functions.

The decision to lay off employees had created stress and anxiety among the Ola staff, according to the sources, who also noted that the restructuring exercise would continue at the group comprising the ride-hailing platform and Ola Electric.

“Ola had done an assessment and decided that the company would lay off 10 per cent or about 200 of the 2000 engineers,” said a person in the know. “However, a town hall meeting was held on Thursday night and it was decided the management would do a reassessment and pause the layoffs.”

Instead, Ola executives said the way they were managing productivity and efficiency was not as effective as they would want it to be, and decided to find a better way of managing the process.

While layoffs are not happening at the moment, Ola has not ruled out their possibility sometime later, based on a re-evaluation of productivity and the efficiency assessment.

Overall, the company at a group level has a workforce of around 10,000 people.

The Bhavish Aggarwal-led group currently has around 2,000 engineers spread across the ride-hailing platform and Ola Electric, and it aims to increase its engineering talent pool to 5,000 over the next 18 months.

Ola Electric has said it has been increasing its focus on non-software engineering domains and building engineering and R&D capabilities.

This is across the vehicle, cell, battery, manufacturing and automation, and autonomous engineering streams.

Ola said it is focused on being a vertically integrated mobility company, and that it is building on common capabilities and synergies across functions as the company strengthens its play across two-wheelers, four-wheelers, cell research, and development and manufacturing.

In July this year, Ola, the mobility platform, laid off 400-500 employees — in a move aimed at driving cost efficiency. These layoffs took place across departments, amid a challenging funding environment and delay in listing plans.

In May 2020, Ola announced laying off 1,400 employees, or over 33 per cent of its workforce, as Covid-19 continued to hurt the transportation industry.