Coronavirus: IT firms ask clients abroad to allow staff to work from home

Many information technology (IT) services firms have started negotiating with clients abroad to allow employees deployed on their projects in India to work-from-home (WFH), in the wake of the lockdown of the country to check the spread of Covid-19.

 
WFH for significant numbers of employees has never been part of delivery contracts. These do specify exit clauses with force majeure provisions but there is no clause to depend upon that can cover the current lockdown situation.

 
“Most of the top-tier firms are currently engaged with negotiation with clients in US and Europe to allow employees to work from remote locations. Given the lockdown and difficulty in commuting to office, clients are being conveyed about the situation and being requested to insert clauses enabling WFH for more numbers of employees,” said analysts from brokerage firms who have interacted with company managements aftyer the virus outbreak.

 
“The firms are engaged in negotiation with clients for allowing WFH for more projects. As an interim measure, there will be a hybrid approach and whatever processes can be migrated to WFH, those will move in due process of time,” said Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst at Greyhound Research. “Processes like financial accounting can be allowed to be done through WFH. However, wherever personal identifiable information is involved, this will be still done in office.”

 
Currently, while many IT employees are working from home, a significant majority has to come to office as companies don’t allow these staffers to work from home, given the security issues involved. Also, many have not been provided with laptops having VPN (virtual private network).  

 
“With most nations struggling to contain the Covid-19 spread, clients in the US and Europe are empathetic towards the request. Hopefully, something favourable will come out soon,” said Gogia.  

 
The IT sector is looking at slowing demand. Many developed countries, including America, have started to see establishments shutting down, to ensure social distancing to fight the virus' spread. As a result, reports suggest, deal signings worth $3-4 billion have been deferred in this month alone.


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