BENGALURU: As Covid cases are shooting up across the State, especially in Bengaluru, many IT and ITES companies are extending the work from home (WFH) option for their employees by three more months. The firms had earlier said WFH would be till March 31 and asked employees to return to work from Wednesday. But now they are sending out emails, asking staff not to visit offices, unless absolutely necessary. State Government employees too are asking for work from home option as they pointed out that they are at a higher risk, since there is no restriction on the number of people visiting government offices.
A leading IT service management firm in east Bengaluru had earlier given the WFH option till March 31, but on Monday, employees received an email saying it has been extended by three more months. A multinational investment bank and financial services company in Bengaluru which had asked its employees to return to office from Wednesday, has told them to continue to work from home. An IT major too has extended WFH till May 31 and sent the mail to its employees a couple of weeks ago. K S Viswanathan, Vice-President (Industry Initiatives), Nasscom, told TNIE that most of the companies had extended work from home till June and a few till September.
WFH improved efficiency, says Nasscom vice-prez
“Though it has been one year and one month since IT/ ITES companies started work from home, the quality of work has not suffered. IT companies continue to get new projects, recruitments are happening, and the efficiency too has gone up,” K S Viswanathan, Vice- President (Industry Initiatives), Nasscom, said. The State Government employees, too, are appealing to Chief Secretary P Ravi Kumar to allow them to work from home or allow 50 per cent of the staff to work from office as there is a spike in Covid numbers.
Over 3,000 employees work at Vidhana Soudha, Vikasa Soudha and MS Building, and every day, thousands of people visit these offices. “We have kept a basic hand sanitiser and temperature checking machine. These are not enough to find out if a person is infected with Covid. A couple of staffers have already tested positive, and one of them is from the Irrigation Department,” said Guruswamy, president, Karnataka State Secretariat Employees’ Association.
“Unlike the private sector, we cannot restrict the movement of people here,” he added. The private sector urged the government not to announce a lockdown again. “Industries are still suffering from the first lockdown and another one will be a disaster. They are sanitising the premises, asking their employees to wear masks all the time, and kept sanitisers. The government should open Covid vaccination for all, without any age limit. Industrial workers should be given priority, as they don’t have the option of working from home,” said Perikal M Sundar, president, FKCCI.
Chandrashekar Hebbar, president, Karnataka Pradesh Hotels and Restaurants Association, said that over 20 lakh people across the state, and 10 lak in Bengaluru, work in hotels, darshinis, bars, lodges and other places and free vaccination should be given to them on priority. Labour Minister Shivaram Hebbar said he will discuss it with the Chief Minister. “Work from home is not possible for the labour class and lockdown is not on the cards at present. We will discuss the best way forward next week,’’ he added.