IT firms unlikely to resume operations instantly, to see staggered opening

Most of the companies do not want to take the risk of bringing their employees back to the campus in sizable numbers, because the fear of catching the novel coronavirus still persists
The Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday permitted information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services firms to function at 50 per cent strength beginning April 20, but most are unlikely to open up operations instantly in the absence of long-term solutions for ending the coronavirus pandemic.

Most companies are going to continue to let employees work from home. When they do allow employees to come back in larger numbers, social distancing plans, frequent sanitization and temperature checking plans are likely to be put in place as a more longer-term plan.

Allowing IT/ITeS services as part of the permitted activities from April 20, the MHA circular noted, “These limited exemptions will be operationalised by states/UTs/district administrations based on strict compliance to existing guidelines. Also, before allowing these select additional activities, states/UTs/district administrations shall ensure that all preparatory arrangements with regard to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for social distancing in offices, workplaces, factories and establishments, as also other sectoral requirements are in place.”

Responding to the measure, industry body National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) said, “Good to see the MHA directive stating that 50 per cent of IT sector can go back to working form offices. Our back-to-work guidance to the industry would be a phased approach (15-20 per cent workforce in Phase 1) with stringent safety measures in place.”
India's $191 billion IT industry employs over 4.3 million people, and has largely managed to service its clients during the pandemic, with nearly 90 per cent of the workforce working from home.

Most of the companies do not want to take the risk of bringing their employees back to the campus in sizable numbers, because the fear of catching the novel coronavirus still persists.

IT major Infosys is learnt to be planning to allow employees working from the campuses in a gradual and staggered manner. Similarly, HCL Technologies is going to continue to let its workforce work remotely for now and take a call on calling back people to the workplace in phases over the next 8-10 days.
Infosys, Wipro, Tech Mahindra, and several other companies have already shipped desktop computers to many of the employees who have not been provided with laptops, to enable them work from them. They don't want to bring all those systems back to the campus as part of their business continuity plan. Also, these companies are taking several measures like increasing the gap between cubicles, managing common areas to avoid crowding and completely doing away with biometric fingerprint-based attendance systems.

Nasscom president Debjani Ghosh said in a tweet on Wednesday that until a vaccine to treat Covid-19 is invented and made readily available, businesses would have to learn to coexist with the virus, and, hence, opening up the industry in a staggered way is the best thing to do.

Most IT and business process management companies have started thinking of a post-Covid world, and a majority agree that things will not go back to being the way they were before the pandemic.

"This pandemic represents a catalyst for digital transformation. In a post Covid-19 landscape, working from home agents will be a regular delivery option — indeed, it is possible that 10-40 per cent of all work will be done through remote working. The automation of processes, and the digitalisation of customer experience, will continue to accelerate,” said Bhupender Singh, President of Group Transformation at  BPM firm Teleperformance.
Most measures that have been put in place during the pandemic are also likely to continue. “Unlike conventional warfare, the enemy here is unseen, and so we will have to continue to drive stringent preventive measures such as social distancing, work from home, harnessing the power of digital/AI and effectively integrating multiple customer experience channels to ensure business continuity,” said Rajiv Ahuja, president at Startek.

A recent research by Avasant also said the pandemic will bring in long-term changes in the IT industry. These include remote delivery, savings in travel expenses and possible improvement in productivity, increased offshore work, restructuring of contracts, and new compensation structures with IT clients.

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