A top executive at global tech consultancy Infosys Ltd. said the company is on track to reach its goal of employing 4,000 Canadians by 2023 after boosting its Toronto-area presence to meet growing customer demand.

“Canada is a very important market for us,” said Ravi Kumar, president at Infosys in an interview. “To cater to Canadian clients and more importantly cater to the North American region.”

The Bengaluru, India-based company said Wednesday it is expanding its presence in Canada with a new 50,000-square-foot “digital development centre” in Mississauga, Ont. that could create up to 500 new jobs and focus on training and upskilling.

While being located near Toronto is an asset, Infosys will provide flexible options for its staff by allowing them to continue working from home, Kumar said. 

“I have to say that Infosys has been a pioneer in building the hybrid workplace, where you can draw from the best of the physical world we all lived in, and the best of the virtual world we’re all living in.” said Kumar.

“Digital capabilities are very modular,” he said. “Therefore, Canada is a very important geography. We could actually take work from any part of the world and transition that work to one of our innovation hubs in Canada.”

While the physical office isn’t viewed as crucial as it once was, Kumar said it was important to establish a presence close to clients in Toronto as well as Ontario’s post-secondary schools where the company hopes to draw talent from.

“I would believe the transit system that has now been established in Mississauga will allow us to access talent from the greater Toronto region and the hybrid workplace will allow to get people to work from any part of Canada.” he said. 

“It doesn’t matter where they are as long as they’re virtually available and at some point in time physically available on an on-and-off basis.”

Despite having more than 260,000 employees globally, Kumar is not unaware of the headwinds facing the local economy, specifically, the hot-button election issue of housing affordability in Canada.

“Housing is an important aspect for employees,” said Kumar. “I would say Canada is very attractive because you have good living standards, great health care, and a vibrant start-up ecosystem, specifically in Toronto.”

“I believe Canada and the greater Toronto region and its ability to access talent pools across [the country], will give us the ability to bridge that gap of housing in Toronto.”

Infosys currently has 3,000 Canadian employees and recently announced plans to create 500 positions in Calgary by 2023.

Tech companies have been among the quickest to pivot to pandemic pressures and adopt remote work which Kumar thinks other industries will want to increasingly adopt as well.

“You could create a much more diverse and inclusive workplace,” he said. “You could push work out of rich, urban settings to different parts of Canada.”

“We’re also getting into an era where every industry is becoming a tech company. So, the ability to virtualize work, in any function, any job, and any industry is going to be much more compelling than before.”