Covid-19 impact: IT companies get back to work with new rule book

While manufacturing companies are also opening in line with government directives, its mostly the information technology and services firms that are opening corporate offices and getting employees back in.
From a brand new set of standard operating procedures to revamping their existing office infrastructure, corporations that are mostly in the technology sector have hit the reset button on how they work as they open up phase by phase, and their employees get back to work.

Harsh Goenka, chairman of the RPG Group which is seeing about 30 per cent of its 30,000 employees across different businesses and geographies, back at work, says, "The cautious balancing of safety norms, while targeting maximum business efficiency, is going to be the new challenge of our times."

RPG's technology company Zensar Technologies, which employs around 8500 people, is operating at 100 per cent capacity with  only 50 per cent of employees attending office, apart from social distancing and other protocols, is organising private buses as well as Innovas to transport employees to and from office.

While manufacturing companies are also opening in line with government directives, its mostly the information technology and services firms that are opening corporate offices and getting employees back in.
Aruna Jayanthi, head of Asia Pacific and Latin America for consulting firm Capgemini, says that the SOP for employees begins right from the time the employee leaves the house. "If it's a cab they are taking to come to office then only one person is allowed in the vehicle and sits diagonally opposite to the driver," she said. "Elevator rules deem no more than two people for a unit that carries six people, and as an employee enters the office they are given three masks to be used for five hours each a day, then disposed and one for the next day as well," she said. 

Capgemini which employs about 110,000 employs in India has about 5 per cent of its workers coming to office.

In addition, certain desk areas have been cordoned off and and there are some that have been marked as to not be used.  The limited use of office facilities is being practiced by more and more firms. "No big meeting rooms, no cafeterias, and no visitors inside the office," cautioned Goenka, adding that for some industries, many employees may not go back to office in the future.

Tech Mahindra's Chief People Officer Harshvendra Soin agrees with Goenka.  "In the long term, we expect to see a mix of ‘physical’ and ‘remote’ working as the new work paradigm. We also see around 25-30 per cent of our associates continuing to work from home on an on-going basis," Soin said.

Capgemini has also kept its cafes, coffee machines, gyms, and conference rooms shut. "No creche either, " Says Jayanthi.  She added that Capgemini's Bengaluru office also had a doctor on site at all times, for the nearly 200 employees, who are coming to office.

Soin says that demarcation of spaces has been done in common areas, washrooms, and elevators to ensure physical distancing. "We have also created zones in our offices to restrict movements to specific floors. Use of staircases is being encouraged and in case of using lifts, no more than 2-4 people are allowed at a time," Soin said.

Pramoud Rao, managing director of security services at the CCTV company, Zicom, who never shut his offices and has been in work-mode from day one of the lockdown has around 20 per cent of his 300 employees coming to office. For them  the new rules of engagement  include no handshakes, eating at one's own desk only, ban on chai and smoke breaks outside the office and standard hygiene protocols like washing before and after eating, using the toilet and sneezing, Rao said. "We also require that everyone carry two pairs of shoes for its the shoes that carry the most germs and dirt when people are walking around the city," he said.

Beyond the impact that new work-place guidelines will have on the office, employees will be expected to be more conscious of their personal space now more than ever before."Personal hygiene, personal spaces, and how to stay clean when moving around and across different areas will also translate into behaviour at airports, railways and public gatherings. This should eventually have a positive impact on personal habits and behaviour in the work place," Jayanthi said.

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