Home >News >India >Firms opt for work from home, virtual meetings

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI : Companies are moving meetings and events online, banning domestic and international travel and encouraging employees to work from home in response to the spread of Covid-19 virus.

After major international technology conferences were cancelled through this week, Google on Wednesday morning called off its biggest tech date, the I/O developer event, which was to take place in May in California. Google had also scrapped its Cloud Next event in San Francisco in April, in favour of a digital event.

“Due to concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19), and in accordance with health guidance from the CDC, WHO, and other health authorities, we have decided to cancel the physical Google I/O event at Shoreline Amphitheatre," a Google spokesperson said.

With more employees, educators and students working remotely in response to the outbreak, Google is helping them stay connected and productive.

“We want to help businesses and schools impacted by Covid-19 stay connected: Starting this week, we’ll roll out free access to our advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities through July 1, 2020 to all G Suite customers globally," tweeted Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google. G Suite is a Google tool for cloud-based collaboration, among other things.

Smartphone manufacturer Realme cancelled its physical launch in India this week, but said it would livestream an event. The 2020 Geneva Motor Show, too, cancelled the on-ground event, with BMW, Mercedes Benz, Daimler and Aston Martin announcing live broadcast of their press conferences.

Harshvendra Soin, chief people officer, Tech Mahindra, said: “We have postponed all internal events, which required large gatherings and everyone has been advised to adequately leverage technologies like tele presence and video conferencing."

Mindtree Ltd is taking a “wait and watch" approach, and is pushing many meetings virtual and delaying some of them, said managing director and CEO Debashis Chatterjee.

Global software giant Microsoft has made its collaboration tool available for free for the next six months in a bid to support public health and safety.

Bill Wagner, the chief executive officer of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud-based remote connectivity services firm LogMeIn said this week: “Starting immediately, we will be offering our critical front-line service providers with free, organization-wide use of many LogMeIn products for three months through the availability of emergency remote work kits. These kits will include solutions for meetings and video conferencing, webinars and virtual events, IT support and management of remote employee devices and apps, as well as remote access to devices in multiple locations."

A Flipkart spokesperson said an advisory has been issued to employees, which includes a ban on domestic and international business travel. “…We are encouraging employees to work from home if they are unwell, promoting the use of video conferences for meetings and are temporarily avoiding events and training programmes that require large gatherings as a precautionary measure," the spokesperson said.

Industry lobby Nasscom has urged companies to restrict all non-essential, work-related travel of employees.

Abhijit Ahaskar from New Delhi, and Ayushman Baruah and Amit Panday from Mumbai contributed to this story.

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