Tata Consultancy Services’ Rajesh Gopinathan and Infosys CEO Salil Parekh defended their companies’ move in separate posts, highlighting the need to restrict work-from-home in the case of employees who support critical functions of global clients “We power financial backbones of several countries, support some of the largest health care and pharmacy companies in the world, run technology for governments and public services organisations,” Gopinathan wrote on social networking platform LinkedIn on Tuesday.
Employees Take to Social Media
Technology services companies maintain that they are an essential service supporting clients to manage their supply chain, make employee payroll so workers are paid on time and help drug companies bring out new molecules faster.
“We have specific business continuity plans in place and are taking steps to ensure that we maintain operational readiness, even as we continue to be guided by advisories from local governments in the 46 countries we operate in,” Infosys CEO Salil Parekh wrote on the company website.
The company said in cases where employees must come to the workplaces for these critical services to run uninterrupted, “we have ensured multiple, round-the-clock initiatives to ensure our workplaces are safe, hygienic and follow social distancing best-practices.”
India’s IT industry has moved nearly two thirds of its 4.36 million workforces to work from home. The $150 billion industry that primarily services overseas clients is allowing these workers to build software and maintain them for clients from remote locations.
85% WORKING REMOTELY: TCS
TCS, which supports over 1,000 organisations globally, has now allowed 85% of its staff to work remotely, both in India and onshore in markets such as the US and Europe, to ensure business continuity with support from “minimal associates working from offices.”
“All these organisations have trusted TCS to manage their technology and continue to place their confidence on us to help them tide over this situation,” Gopinathan wrote.
But as Covid-19 continues to disrupt daily life forcing lockdowns across the globe, workers of Indian IT services firms took to social media platforms complaining of employers’ insistence that they come to office. These employees also posted internal emails to support their claim.
On a ‘IT Confessions’ Facebook page, an employee from a technology company had anonymously said: “Management of our process has decided to split the staff 50% in general shift and 50% in night shift…My name is not under the list of staff who will get WFH.”
The National Association of Software and Services Companies said that while employee safety was paramount, some measures must be taken to ensure that IT services companies can still service critical offerings from global healthcare, telecom networks and financial firms.
“Unfortunately, most of these mission critical services cannot be processed outside of the highly secure work premises. Hence, it is important to ensure governments enable the IT-ITes sector to function as essential services and keep those critical services operational,” Nasscom said in a statement.
Cognizant CEO Brian Humphries, in an email last week, to employees said ensuring continuity for critical teams working from restricted environments, bandwidth and data security among other concerns had to be considered while enabling remote working. The company has enabled work-fromhome for most teams since then.
Experts say tech services firms face a challenge as they have not factored the dramatic shift in the need for thousands of people to work from home.
“What they may not have been ready for is a scenario where your entire workforce or a large percentage of your workforce which up until now has been working from one fixed location is now going to be working from a distributed environment,” said KN Murali, director – human resources & alliances at NTT India. “That’s the piece they have not readied themselves for.”
Another analyst said the measures could be limiting considering the scare of the spread of the pandemic.
“We believe it is going to be difficult though providers are assuring that they are taking the best sanitizing measures, it may not be enough,” Mrinal RaI, principal analyst at Information Services Group said.