MUMBAI: Taking the IT-BPM model into tier 2-3 cities could pave the way for a parallel ‘gig economy’ where technology will integrate remote consultants with the workforce as part of business continuity after the lockdown. Global Business Process management (BPM) service provider WNS has been adopting this model, as employees start returning to work. The company is also enforcing strict social distancing and sanitisation protocols for the few who have to work from premises, said Keshav Murugesh, chief executive, WNS.
While the IT-ITES/BPM sector has been allowed to return to work at 50% capacity, Murugesh said the processes put in place during the lockdown will benefit the sector and employees over a long term.
"Learning from the current covid-19 situation, discussions have actively started with the government on making Work-From-Home (WFH) an acceptable model in the industry. This could pave the way for a parallel ‘gig economy’ where technology enables the integration of efficient, remote consultants into the workforce," said Murugesh during an interaction with Mint.
He noted that the adoption of WFH in the long run can lead to the inclusion of a huge untapped workforce across the country including tier 2-3 cities which the industry has already started. WNS is already delivering from cities like Nashik and Vizag, and these centers have grown many-fold in the last few years. He also sees this as an opportunity to bring many women back into the work force who may be constrained by factors from stepping out for a job.
Work from home for companies in BPM services, during the lockdown, has been harder to implement simply because the business model was built for delivery from premises. Yet, WNS has been quick to not only shift employees and processes off premises but has also taken the lead in formulating standard operating procedures (SoP) as employees start to troop back in.
Unlike IT services, Murugesh said, demand for employees in BPM to work on-premise is much higher although clients have been extremely supportive with their efforts.
"BPM services require minute-by-minute management compared to IT services and there is dependence on multiple software and tools simultaneously, so dedicated network and power resources are required even at home. WNS is currently delivering over 80% client requirements from home and this number is gradually going up as we roll out improvements," he said. He noted, during recent earnings, that these changes will lead to more outcome-based revenue models instead of fixed-cost projects to offset the new normal.
In its January-March results, WNS reported revenue of $248.3 million, an 18% rise year-on-year and a 3.8 % increase sequentially.
The SoPs for returning to work include measures that leverage WNS's existing access control and security practices to ensure appropriate social distancing within the office environment. To begin with, the possible covid-19 exposure for each employee expected to return to office will be pre-checked based on their travel history and location from which they are traveling. Prior to availing transportation through company-provided vehicles, which will be sanitised after each trip, each employee must demonstrate that they are qt low risk to infection through the Aarogya Setu app before boarding the vehicle and before entering the premises.
"Since covid-19 is presently not known to be an airborne virus, the presence of centralized air conditioning within the office premises should therefore not contribute to any additional risk. All individuals will be mandatorily required to wear masks within the premises and while in-transit to and from our premises, which will assist greatly in preventing any airborne spread if it indeed occurs," said Murugesh.