Nearly half of India’s technology workers – estimated at 3 million – have already begun to work from home as social distancing becomes key to contain the spread of the outbreak. If employees continue to work from home for a few more months, IT companies are likely to conclude that 20-30% of their workforce can operate remotely, said Sridhar Mitta, founder of NextWealth Entrepreneurs, a firm that has more than 2,000 people offering services remotely.
“The first wave was when companies started outsourcing work to India because of the huge cost differential, followed by Y2K when they needed more people to solve a problem within a short period,” said Mitta, a former CTO of Wipro and among its earliest employees. “Over the next few months, IT companies will gain experience and realise what processes can and cannot be done remotely. Clients too, will gain comfort,” he said. Over time, even if 20% of the work can be done from home, it would mean over one million people not needing to commute to an office daily, with the option of working from any city they choose to, Mitta said.
Indian technology and back office firms have already moved a significant amount of work to homes of staff as a short-term measure to tide over the crisis.
Tata Consultancy Services has asked more than 40% of its employees to work from home, its CEO Rajesh Gopinathan said in an email to staff on Friday. Accenture has moved over 60% of its employees to work from home in India and the Philippines.
Pramod Bhasin, chairman of Clix Capital said, the concept could have a profound impact on the kind of people who become part of the workforce. It would be easier for parents, especially women, to get back to work if they can work remotely, and for others for whom fixed timings are an issue. “This will help break many myths about what can or can’t be done from home,” he said.
Just as there were questions over what could be done out of India when the outsourcing industry took off initially, Bhasin expects work from home to break stereotypes.