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Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

IT firms want employees to continue work from home

  • Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa has clarified that only essential services of IT companies will be allowed to work from office
  • Mumbai-based TCS said the firm is in no hurry to bring people back and is looking at largely 25% attendance going forward

BENGALURU: Information technology and bio-technology (IT/BT) companies are encouraging employees to continue work from home, except for those involved in critical functions, even as partial relaxation of the lockdown will kick in from 20 April.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in its revised guidelines, said IT and IT-enabled services (ITeS) companies can resume operations from their offices from Monday, with up to 50% workforce.

The Karnataka government withdrew its earlier order allowing 50% employee strength of IT/BT companies to operate from offices after 20 April. After deliberations with officials, chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Saturday clarified that only essential or critical services of IT/BT companies will be allowed to work from office and the remaining will continue to work from home.

“Despite the partial relaxation of the lockdown from 20 April, please do so only if absolutely, absolutely essential. I plan to continue working from home because I can and want to make way for those that truly need to be out," Wipro chairman Rishad Premji said in a tweet on Saturday.

At Wipro, 93% of its billable employees have received client approvals to deliver services from home. “There are certain types of critical work such as testing in our labs for 5G as part of our engineering services, which can’t be done from home. Then there are certain HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) privacy requirements in the BPO (business process outsourcing) business because of which customers may not give approvals to work from home," Abidali Neemuchwala, chief executive officer and managing director (CEO & MD), Wipro told Mint in a recent interview.

IT firms based in Bengaluru such as Infosys Ltd, Mindtree Ltd and Dell Technologies had begun asking their employees to work from home even before the first lockdown, after some tested positive for covid-19. The trend is expected to continue for some more time.

Moreover, public transport in cities such as Mumbai and Bengaluru are suspended. Mumbai, which has over 176 containment zones, is rigidly observing the lockdown. So is Bengaluru, an IT hub, which has clamped down on two-wheeler movement, with only essential service providers with permits being allowed. Even if offices are open, employees may find it difficult to commute to work.

Mumbai-based Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) said the company is in no hurry to bring people back and is looking at largely 25% attendance going forward.

“We believe that 25% of employees in our offices, spending only 25% of their time at location, can make 100% of the people productive," said N. Ganapathy Subramaniam, chief operating officer (COO), TCS.

Bengaluru-based biotechnology major Biocon had said it will continue to operate “essential pharmaceutical manufacturing" in compliance with government requirements.

“We have significantly reduced the number of people in our facilities to only those who are required to carry out manufacturing and quality operations based on planned production schedules. All other employees are either staying back or are working remotely from home."

A Biocon employee said, on condition of anonymity, the same trend is likely to continue and no major changes are expected immediately.

Likewise, an employee of Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp in Bengaluru said employees of the IT major will continue to work from home and “there’s unlikely to be any change."

Earlier in March, Infosys had started sending its Mysuru campus trainees home as a precautionary measure amid rising cases of covid-19 in the country.

“Wherever it is feasible, we are enabling more and more of our employees and trainees to work and learn from home. We are also limiting the number of people at Infosys campuses. Therefore, Infosys has advised trainees residing at its Global Education Center in Mysore to return home as soon as possible," the company had said in a statement.

An Infosys employee, familiar with the development, said about one-third of their workforce might resume work from office based on the relaxations given by the government.

Sharan Poovanna and Romita Majumdar contributed to the story.

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