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    Playing it safe amidst Covid-19: Work from home’s working, so India Inc wants it to stay

    Synopsis

    Even as they ensure it’s business as usual with all necessary infrastructure and systems in place, companies across sectors say that productivity, while working from home, is high. With the pandemic continuing to rage, they will only bring back staff whose presence in the office is critical.

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    KOLKATA: As coronavirus cases in the country near the 1.6 million mark, India Inc is playing it safe by extending work from home (WFH) for employees.

    Even as they ensure it’s business as usual with all necessary infrastructure and systems in place, companies across sectors say that productivity, while working from home, is high. With the pandemic continuing to rage, they will only bring back staff whose presence in the office is critical.

    Citibank, Boston Consulting Group, HUL, KPMG, RPG Group, Cognizant, Philips and Pidilite are among those only getting essential staff to work from the office. Many have scrapped previously decided back-to-office dates and say they are monitoring the situation as they don’t want to risk employee safety. On Monday, Google said it will allow most employees to work from home till June 30, 2021, for roles that don’t need them to be in the office. Amazon had earlier extended its WFH policy from October 2020 to January 2021.

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    At KPMG in India, around 5% of the workforce is reporting to the office. “We will continue with WFH till the situation improves,” said chief operating officer Arjun Vaidyanathan.

    “We have enhanced bandwidth and other facilities for employees, deployed best-in-class security features to maintain data confidentiality and IT systems and processes to ensure seamless services for clients,” he said

    Pfizer India managing director S Sridhar said, “Other than field colleagues, everyone else is working from home. Productivity has actually improved; we aren’t feeling the need to go back to office.”

    He said the company has taken care of every requirement to ensure that work continues as usual, while regional crisis management teams have been empowered to take decisions based on the local situation.

    While all offices are returnto-work-enabled, only about 15% of employees have been allowed to do so, said Vishpala Reddy, head of human resources for the Indian subcontinent at Philips. “Our employees have been very productive even while working from home, and given that India is still categorised as a high-risk country in terms of Covid-19 cases globally, we don’t want to rush things,” he said.

    As India gears up for Unlock 3.0 in August, this is the line many companies are taking, though business activity will see a push. Unless required, teams are being asked to continue working from home through August, said Rahul Guha, managing director and partner at BCG India. “Safety of our people comes first,” he said. “We will take small steps in line with opening up in geographies where our offices are.”

    Cognizant’s corporate and sales offices will remain closed for the next few months and the reopening of delivery centres will be determined based on the local Covid-19 situation. Hindustan Unilever has decided to continue WFH for all office employees and will take a decision once the situation improves. RPG Group will continue with WFH in August, for now. Citi India has its essential employees in office. For the rest, it will be WFH indefinitely, said a company official.
    (Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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    16 Comments on this Story

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    Mahesh Laddha6 days ago
    I personally believe that WFO is much more productive than WFH. But in current Covid situation WFH is better as employees who migrate from other cities, face issues like procuring meals from safer places, performing house-keeping tasks entirely by themselves. This is very taxing. Add the fact that if their home town gets locked-down, they cannot visit their folks for months!!
    Aj Jey8 days ago
    work from home till the Pinkies arrive...end of story...now bhajaothalli
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