No respite for Chennai techies after ‘work from home’ order

The heaviest rainfall in over a century may have brought Chennai to a complete halt but the city’s software engineers have been asked by their companies to continue chasing deadlines set by foreign clients.

india Updated: Dec 02, 2015 21:18 IST
Vignesh Radhakrishnan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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A man rides his motorbike through a flooded road during heavy rain in Chennai.(REUTERS)

The heaviest rainfall in over a century may have brought Chennai to a complete halt but the city’s software engineers have been asked by their companies to continue chasing deadlines set by foreign clients.

Software giants like Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Wipro have been forced to ask their employees to ‘work from home’ and attend client calls whenever necessary as their offices in IT hubs in areas like Chengalpat, Paranur and Sholinganallur became inaccessible after rising water level blocked many connecting roads.

Mahindra World City - a special economic zone near Chengalpat - where top IT firms have their offices has become out of bounds after the Chennai-Trichy (NH 45) highway was flooded by relentless rains in the city.

A software engineer with TCS, whose office in MEPZ SEZ near Tambaram on the Chennai-Trichy highway has become inaccessible, said she has not been able to work from home as there was no power since Tuesday night.

“I’m staying at Tambaram and there is no power at home since yesterday evening. We told our office that the laptop could not be charged so we are unable to work,” she told HT on conditions of anonymity.

“The TCS offices in Chennai are shut today. The safety of our employees comes first and all our employees are safe. There is no water logging in any of the offices. The strong business continuity plans ensure that there is no impact on business,” a TCS spokesperson said.

Another software engineer who works with Infosys, was asked to not come to office for another week after rain water entered the premises.

“Mahindra city SEZ near Paranur is where I work and water had entered both the food courts and also office buildings. I can’t work from home as my project is running in secured network and we can’t access it from home,” he said.

“In light of the rains and flooding in Chennai, Infosys campuses in the city were closed on December 2 and we have also declared a holiday on December 3. Our teams in Chennai have been working with local authorities to get employees stranded across the city home safely,” said a company spokesperson.

Similarly Wipro, whose main office is in one of the worst affected areas of Sholinganallur, has also asked its employees to work from home after its ground floor building was completely flooded.

“Whatever happens an IT company must run, even during disasters. But if you take foreign countries they won’t mind working during natural calamities. I’m frustrated, but can’t say no,” a senior Wipro project engineer, who was given a data card and laptop, told HT.

“Many of my project mates were sent to Wipro’s Bangalore office and asked to work from there. Many of my friends who didn’t choose to do so are now stranded in Chennai looking for safe places,” she added.

She did not wish to be named.

“We are closely monitoring the evolving situation in Chennai. Our staff at Sholinganallur, Chennai have taken complete ownership to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees and assets. In addition to accommodation in hotels, special boarding arrangements have been made for those employees who have opted to stay back at the Wipro campus. Food and other essentials are being provided. Business continuity plans have been invoked for the work being done from our Chennai facility to ensure services to our customers remain uninterrupted,” a Wipro spokesperson said.

Many other small and big IT companies in the area have also asked their employees to stay at home and work. Others who managed to go to office are now stuck there.

An analyst with RR Donnelley - a process management company - told HT that he has been forced to live in a hotel in Anna Salai along with some of his colleagues for the past three days as he could not reach his home at Kallikuppam.

“I’m not able to reach my home as there is water stagnation in all the roads. So I chose to stay in a hotel. I don’t know when I’ll be able to go back. All the phone networks are down. So I don’t even know what is the situation back there,” he told HT.

First Published: Dec 02, 2015 17:43 IST