COVID-19 vaccination drive at Gautam Buddh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh (Representative image)
India's second largest software firm Infosys has tied up with 130 hospitals and is in discussion with healthcare providers and vaccine suppliers to vaccinate its employees, a top executive told Moneycontrol.
"We welcome the decision from the government to open up vaccination for all adults in India. We will work with our partners to accelerate our vaccination programme to cover our employee population as early as possible. We are in discussion with healthcare providers as well as vaccine suppliers to help us in this endeavor," Richard Lobo, Executive Vice President, Head HR, Infosys, told Moneycontrol in a statement.
He further said the company has established vaccination centres for its employees and their families at some of their campuses across India.
"We have done this in collaboration with our healthcare partners and have seen a good response from our employees. We are in the process of extending these to all our campuses in India. We have also collaborated with over 130 hospitals in India, where employees and their family members can visit to get vaccinated. At present, we continue to operate in a remote model across our offices and see no impact on our client deliverables due to the health situation," Lobo said. Infosys has nearly 2.5 lakh employees.
Moneycontrol has also reached out to TCS, Wipro and HCL Tech on how they plan to roll out vaccination drive for all its employees. These companies together employ close to 10 lakh people. Many of them had announced that they will bear the cost of vaccination for employees and their families.
Theirry Delaporte, CEO, Wipro, said during the earnings call, “For our colleagues based in India, we will be organising vaccination camps on our campuses as per the guidelines set by the government.” US-based tech major SAP Labs India has partnered with Manipal Hospital for vaccinating employees on its campuses.
At the same time, Millind Lakkad, Chief Human Resources Officer, TCS, said during the earnings call, “We are significantly increasing our communication with our people, basically continuing to use our own isolation centres and re-imagining what else we can do for our people in this context of a really bad situation right now in India, and many other things such as how do we take care of vaccinations, enable and also encourage people to get those vaccinations. All of that is happening in a very, very systematic manner.”
In an earlier conversation with Moneycontrol, VV Apparao, CHRO, HCL Tech, said the company is also trying through various sources such as directly contacting vaccine producers and reaching out to implementation partners, some of whom are getting themselves ready for the vaccine rollout.
Impact of second wave on IT firms
As the second wave of the pandemic grips India, IT services firms are bracing for the uncertainty. According to experts, while tech spending is unlikely to be an issue with clients accelerating their digital initiatives, increasing instances of COVID-19 is concerning and could impact ability to deliver.
India’s second wave has been brutal compared to 2020, as multiple states see a huge spike in active cases and mortality rate. For instance, in the IT hub Bengaluru, active cases have crossed a lakh and daily reported cases reaching 9000. The highest was around 6500 during the peak of the pandemic. Another IT hub Pune has reported 1.2 lakh active cases. In New Delhi, 25,000 cases reported on a daily basis, have been struggling to treat patients and have gone into lockdown for a week.
All these are likely to affect the IT firms’ ability to deliver. Peter Bendor-Samuel, CEO, Everest Group, a research and advisory firm said, “From a service company perspective, it is clearly affecting their off-shore capacity to a varying degree. We have heard several instances where between 20 -30 percent of the Indian workforce is affected, either dealing with COVID-19 themselves or having to take care of close family who is dealing with the virus.”
This is important given that India accounts for about a significant share of the outsourcing workforce in India and comes at a time when the demand for technology professionals is at an all-time high.
Top IT firms have announced large deals wins, many of them digital. As a result the sector is also looking at robust hiring and addition of close to one lakh freshers and significant laterals due to rising demand for software services as more companies digitise their operations.
Mrinal Rai, Principal Analyst, ISG, said that at present there could be slight concerns from clients about service transitions and ongoing deliveries.
The challenge here would be addressing client concerns, where vaccination is going at a much faster pace than in India. For instance, the US is coming out of the COVID crisis with all adults eligible for the vaccine. The expectation, Bendor-Samuel said, is that all adults who wish to be vaccinated will have been vaccinated by July. The US accounts for 50-60 percent of the revenue for the IT services companies.
“This has the potential to create a gap in expectations with the US teams being surprised by COVID-19 related constraints (in India),” Bendor-Samuel added.
Though vaccination for all adults is good news, a lot will depend on execution and it might not necessarily guarantee that one will not be infected again, Rai of ISG said, adding that it would reduce its severity and offer a good opportunity for service providers to assure their clients.