NEW DELHI: The covid-19 pandemic has made work-from-home the new normal for India's IT and technology firms. Microsoft India has transitioned to a virtual workplace for nearly all its operations and currently, only a small number of employees who perform essential services continue to be on-site at its offices. In an interview, Anant Maheshwari, president, Microsoft India spoke about helping build digital capabilities and the role of technology amid the covid-19 crisis. Edited excerpts:
How is Microsoft pivoting towards the new market realities due to the pandemic?
From education and healthcare to governments and across organisations of all sizes, we are helping build the digital capability required to emerge stronger from every phase of this crisis-whether it’s the phase of respond, rebound or re-imagine.
There are so many transformations happening today at scale that were just pilot thoughts three months back. From tele-healthcare solutions to virtual classrooms, from facilitating remote work and learning to providing virtual control rooms for decision making, from re-imagining online business models and digital revenue lines, to stepping up the cyber security of existing and new models, our customers and partners are asking us to work on new challenges and these are all pivot points. Looking ahead, technology will have a critical role to play in building economic resilience. The pace of digital acceleration and innovation will be key to our recovery and we are committed to work and innovate alongside our customers and partners as their trusted digital transformation partners.
How has covid-19 accelerated the scaling of digital across industries?
Covid-19 has accelerated the pace of tech adoption across the country, in all sectors, irrespective of the existing levels of tech intensity. Technology will play a major role in reshaping education, health, public services, MSME and agriculture, that are crucial to economic recovery in the short and long term. Computing power in the cloud and the edge are already changing how hospitals will look like, how contactless commerce will happen and how the retail industry will function. Whether it’s in manufacturing or sales or customer service, businesses are shifting to a digital first strategy. It is clear that technology has a key role to play in every phase of this crisis. I would say covid-19 has brought to the fore the clear benefits of investing in a tech enabled future.
How is the work from home model working out for Microsoft?
During the mandatory remote work environment, our goal was to ensure every Microsoft employee has the tools, resources, and solutions to be as creative, productive and secure as possible, working from any location and on any device. With many of our colleagues juggling their personal and professional responsibilities, it’s important to consider the long-term impact of remote work on mental and physical well-being.
We adapted our employee policies and practices to address this rapidly evolving context. As an example, we added an additional leave option-the 12-week Paid Pandemic School and Childcare Closure Leave, to give our employees greater flexibility and time off as they face extended school closures. For a comfortable work environment, we extended our policies to enable employees to enhance home bandwidth connections and procure the right equipment, including ergonomic furniture.
When does Microsoft India return to the workplace?
The health and safety of our employees is our key consideration at Microsoft. We see a hybrid work environment for the foreseeable future, where there will be a mix of in-office and remote work, even when the signs of the pandemic begin to ease.
How will this ongoing crisis transform businesses in India?
The pandemic has accelerated transformation manifold for businesses in India. Organizations are re-imagining their business models, relooking at talent management strategies and fast-tracking digitalization efforts to be more resilient to disruption. Simulation, automation and remote everything is becoming a reality with the move to a digital first world. The success of this digital transition can enable a significant workforce shift in the country, leading to a major shift in cities getting decongested as more people live in the suburbs and office footprints reduce; a greater move towards employment in tier 2+ cities and increased participation of women in the workforce.