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Last Updated : Apr 19, 2020 01:18 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

For better or worse, working from home is likely to be the new normal

Both, Wipro and TCS — the two IT majors which have announced their Q4 result — have more than 90 percent of their employees working from home.

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A month ago, one would have thought that enabling 'work from home' provisions for 50 lakh employees of the IT sector is a herculean task, if not impossible.

Now, close to 90 percent employees from the sector are working from home. For better or for the worse, this is probably here to stay.

I guess we will have to give it to the IT majors for this quick turnaround.


Enabling WFH for more than 30 lakh employees is not an easy task. Unlike startups that are nimble and where WFH is the norm, IT was been hardly wired that way. There were concerns around infrastructure, privacy, productivity and most importantly, client permissions to take care of.

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For one, privacy and security are a huge concern for clients, especially banking and financial services. This is justified given the sensitive data employees handle. In addition, IT infrastructure was not designed to let large number of employees work from home. In an earlier conversation, former Infosys CFO V Balakrishnan had pointed out that only 20 percent employees can work from home at any point in time.

Despite the state governments asking IT companies to let employees work from home, there was no announcement about the same even a week before the nationwide lockdown was imposed.

It was only from March 25 that many firms asked their employees to WFH. In some cases, employees were asked to take leaves till the time they can get the infrastructure to allow them to WFH.

It took them few more days to shift desktops and procure additional laptops for smooth transition. From then on, it has more or less been smooth sailing.

Both, Wipro and TCS — the two IT majors which have announced their Q4 result — have more than 90 percent of their employees working from home. Many have pointed out that this could become a mainstay.

Here to say

Kris Gopalakrishnan, co-founder, Infosys, said with WFH proving effective, companies might now allow more employees to work from home unlike before. Earlier, WFH was reserved for fewer employees such as project managers or mothers with children less than three years of age.

Now that could change. Most employees and companies agree that productivity has gone up during the WFH period.

N Ganapathy Subramaniam, COO, TCS, said during results announcement said that going forward there might not be a need for more than 25 percent employees to work from the office.

With 93 percent employees working from home, Wipro said it might take a call on if they can do this on a permanent basis, with client permissions, of course.

More advantages

There are a lot of advantages in making this a permanent arrangement. For one, it would bring down employee cost. Companies run buses on regular basis to pick-up and drop employees at different points in a day. With fewer employees working from the office, the number of shuttles would also drop. Other maintenance cost will go down too.

In addition, IT companies are running out of work spaces within their sprawling campuses — fitted with all facilities imaginable, such as swimming pools, gyms and food courts.

An IT sector employee said that the work place has been cramped, with six to seven people working, instead of four it was designed for. WFH to some extent solves these physical infrastructure woes. This could help solve the traffic problem too, especially in Bengaluru.

While it is too early to say what scale of WFH will be implemented by IT companies, in the post-COVID-19 world, working from home will no longer be reserved for the select few.

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First Published on Apr 19, 2020 01:16 pm