IT companies in Pune consider work from home for some employees post lockdown
The concept of work from home (WFH) has entered the lives of multiple professions due to the lockdown announced to curb the spread of the Sars- Cov-2 virus which causes the Covid-19 infection. One of the major sectors where WFH may have entered for a period longer than the lockdown is that of Information Technology (IT) and Information Technology Enables Services (ITES).
The concept is not new in the sector; employees had the option of taking limited days of WFH. However, the new initiative is being discussed by the member companies of Hinjewadi Industrial Association (HIA).
The companies at Hinjewadi IT park collectively employed at least 2,50,000 IT and ITES staff members before the lockdown was announced, according to an official of HIA.
“Wherever possible, we are encouraging work from home. Even after the lockdown, wherever possible, and in the future, I envisage at least 25-30% of our people will be encouraged to work from home. In rotation, we are planning to have only 60-65% staff in office. This will be done very gradually from 10% to 50%. It will ensure less spending and rationalise office space. It will happen over a period of time. Currently, almost 90% staff is working from home in all companies in Hinjewadi,” said Satish Pai, president of HIA, and senior vice-president and business head of Americas at Tech Mahindra.
A spokesperson of another IT giant in Pune confirmed that such a decision has been taken by member companies of HIA. However, the company officials did not wish to be named.
“Fear of new Covid-19 cases is still high. Even after the lockdown is over, getting 100% staff to work is not possible. That would mean 2-3 months, if not more, WFH will have to be in place. We will have to phase it out on the basis of criticality of the role and current situation of their work. The clients are not comfortable with some employees accessing information from home. Therefore, critical roles will have to move back into office, but wherever possible, it will be done. That is how I see it working out,” said Samir Gadgil, global head of HR at Wipro, RGIP Pune.
Members of the Forum for IT Employees (FITE), a worker union for IT professionals, believe that the work from home initiative should continue till the region becomes a green zone.
“It is not a new concept and it is totally workable. In the US, there are employees who are permanently on work from home basis. We have worked with people who have not come to office for four years. This can be done with individual contributors who are technically sound. People who we have seen working from home, their work culture and ethics was really good. It will also depend on the client if they are ok with it,” said Pavanjit Mane, president of FITE.
Although the decision is at a nascent stage, it is being considered as a potential contributor to saving costs. It may also lead to different payment packages, believes Mane.
“In the foreseeable two quarters alone, I see difficulties. We cannot be fussy about anything in the future to avail opportunities. India, more than anyone else, needs foreign investment. It does not matter which country it comes from. They should all be given a red carpet welcome be it in manufacturing, farming or retails,” added Pai.
However, the companies will have to come up with better security solutions to ensure that WFH as a permanent solution, according to Gadgil. The overall infrastructure and multiple aspects of it have to improve in order to bring in a lasting WFH culture, he believes.
“I will hazard a guess by saying that in the first couple of months, the companies will not bring in more than 25-30% staff in office. The guards around adherence and risk, that are otherwise in place, are lowered. Customers have relaxed some of the requirements. If WFH had to continue as a permanent arrangement, the same customer who is allowing WFH will start expecting more compliance after the pandemic is over,” he added.
During the lockdown, the use of private vehicles is not allowed. Therefore, the 10-15% employees who are manning the offices and the ones who are expected to attend office, after the 33% workforce relaxation was announced by Pimpri-Chinchwad police, are travelling in buses. The WFH initiative may reduce the traffic that the IT park workers have to face on a daily basis.