Lockdown 3.0: Work from home to continue as firms postpone opening

While the Confederation of Indian Industry has asked the government for a clarification, their offices will remain closed for employees as of now
Little is expected to change for those who have been working hunched over laptops at home for five weeks, as majority of companies ask employees to continue working remotely for the next two weeks.

The government has allowed private offices to function with 33 per cent of staff even in red zones, most of which are major cities. But, with most forms of public transportation suspended, and local authorities asking people to not step outside, India Inc’s plans of getting staff back to offices have gone haywire.

While the Confederation of Indian Industry has asked the government for a clarification, their offices will remain closed for employees as of now. Same has been the case for industry bodies like the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and Assocham.

Similar sentiments were echoed by MTR Foods, whose ready-to-eat products have seen demand soaring during the lockdown. "All corporate and branch offices will remain closed and employees would be working from home for the coming two weeks," said Milan Chattaraj, chief people officer at MTR Foods.”ITC has also asked its employees to work from home unless absolutely required to come to office for operational reasons.

"Offices in metros (in red zones) will continue to operate remotely. The hurdle is to improve productivity so that you can get the same output with social distancing and lesser number of people at work. We need to ensure work from home is implemented seamlessly (with cyber security),” said Vimal Kejriwal, MD & CEO, KEC international.

E-commerce firms say they are witnessing a steady growth in traffic after online sales of non-essential products in orange and green zones got government nod.

Flipkart’s seller support team is providing constant online counselling and support to sellers on the platform to help them resume operations over the next couple of days, while complying with directives on social distancing.

Though there will be a sudden surge in orders, Snapdeal said the firm had decided to reopen their offices sometime after May 18. "The reopening will be phased, ensuring less than 40 per cent of employees are present at any time, while others will be working remotely. The decision on those who will be joining office depends on factors such as travel distance and the mode of transport," a spokesperson said. It estimates 80-90 per cent of its sellers in non-restricted zones to be live in the coming week.

Executives still rue that there would be manpower shortage as a large number of supply-chain labour have gone back to their hometowns.

For more traditional retail, too, shutters are expected to remain down. Sources said the Retailers Association of India has asked the government to clarify about restrictions on movement. While all standalone shops have been allowed to operate in urban areas, lack of clarity remain on whether people can step out for purchases. The home ministry had announced curfew for citizens between 7 pm and 7 am.

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