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How IT companies are getting back to work in lockdown

By Pavan Lall
May 31, 2020 13:06 IST
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‘Elevator rules deem no more than two people for a unit that carries six people, and as an employee enters the office, there are three masks to be used for five hours each a day, then disposed and one for the next day as well.’ 

Image used for representational purpose. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters.

Corporates, mostly in the technology sector, have hit the reset button on how they will work as they open up phase by phase and their employees get back to work. 

Some of the new norms include a brand new set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) along with revamping existing office infrastructure, among others. 

Harsh Goenka, chairman of the RPG Group, which saw about 30 per cent of its 30,000 employees across different businesses and geographies, back at work, said, “The cautious balancing of safety norms, while targeting maximum business efficiency, is going to be the new challenge of our times.” 

 

RPG’s technology company Zensar Technologies, which employs around 8,500 people, is operating at 100 per cent capacity with only 50 per cent of employees attending office. In addition to distancing and other protocols, it is also organising private buses as well as cars to transport employees back and forth from office.

While manufacturing companies are also opening in accordance with the government’s directive, it’s mostly the information technology and services firms that are opening corporate offices. 

Aruna Jayanthi, head of Asia-Pacific and Latin America, of consulting firm Capgemini, said that SOPs for employees begin right from the time the employee leaves the house. “If it’s a cab they are taking to come to office, then only one person is allowed in the vehicle and the person must sit diagonally opposite the driver,” she said. 

“Elevator rules deem no more than two people for a unit that carries six people, and as an employee enters the office, there are three masks to be used for five hours each a day, then disposed and one for the next day as well.” 

Capgemini, which employs about 110,000 in India, has seen about 5 per cent of its workers coming back to office. 

In addition, certain desk areas have been cordoned off and there are some that have been marked off to not be used. The limited use of office facilities is being practiced by more and more firms. 

“No big meeting rooms, no cafeterias, and no visitors inside the office,” cautions Goenka, as he goes on to say that for some industries, many employees may not go back to office in the future. 

Tech Mahindra’s chief people officer Harshvendra Soin agrees with Goenka. “In the long term, we expect to see a mix of ‘physical’ and ‘remote’ working as the new work paradigm, and we target that around 25-30 per cent of our associates will continue to work from home on an on-going basis,” said Soin. 

Capgemini has also kept its cafes, coffee machines, gyms, and conference rooms shut. “No creche either,” said Jayanthi. 

She goes on to add that Capgemini’s Bengaluru office also has a doctor on site at all times, for roughly around 200 employees who are coming to office. 

Soin said that demarcation of spaces has been done in common areas, washrooms, and elevators to ensure physical distancing. 

“We have also created zones in our offices to restrict movements to specific floors. Use of staircases has been encouraged, and in case of using lifts, no more than 2-4 people are allowed at a time,” said Soin. 

Pramoud Rao, managing director (MD) of security services and CCTV company Zicom, who never shut his offices and has been in work mode from day one of the lockdown, has around 20 per cent of his 300 employees coming to office. 

Rao said, for them, the new rules of engagement include no handshakes, eating at one’s own desk only, ban on chai and smoke breaks outside the office and standard hygiene protocol like washing hands before and after eating. 

“We also require that everyone carry two pairs of shoes for it’s the shoes that carry most germs and dirt when people are walking around the city,” he said. 

From now, employees will be expected to be more conscious about their personal space than ever before. 

“Personal hygiene, personal spaces, and how to stay clean when moving around and across different areas will also translate into behaviour at airports, railways and public gatherings. This should eventually have a positive impact on personal habits and behaviour in the work place,” said Jayanthi.

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Pavan Lall in Mumbai
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