With Delhi-NCR facing severe air-pollution levels, India Inc is stepping up to do its bit for employees. This comes at a time when the Delhi government has announced early winter break for all schools, directed 50 per cent staff to work from home and banned construction work amid other measures.

Companies such as Nestle and PepsiCo are encouraging employees to avail work from home in the wake of deteriorating air-pollution levels in the Delhi-NCR region.

A spokesperson for Nestle India said, “We maintain a good AQI level in office and continue to closely monitor it for the health and welfare of our employees. Our work-from-home policy for all employees is still applicable, and our colleagues have the choice to avail it.”

“In addition to its hybrid-first work approach, HCL Technologies has upgraded the air filtering process across its Noida campus and introduced water sprinkling to check pollution to ensure the safety and well-being of employees,” said a company spokesperson.

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Puneet Kaura, Chairman of Delhi State committee at Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), said, “From employee perspective, the employer must encourage work-from-home as much as possible. My advice from CII is that they should come to work only if it is mandatory and absolutely necessary. Everything is manageable. If it is not required please stay at home for at least for 2-3 weeks or maybe a month. Covid showed us we can manage things from home.”

“Everybody has a role to play in this at citizen level, like bursting of crackers should be avoided. From CII level, we are pushing the Delhi Government for cloud seeding that will create artificial rain. We are doing this initiative with IIT Kanpur,” added Kaura.

With northern India facing challenges of toxic smog every winter, installation of air-purification systems is increasingly becoming prevalent in Indian and MNC corporate offices in recent years.

Salil Kapoor, CEO, Hindware Home Innovation Ltd, said, “There has been a spike in demand from consumers for air-purifiers. This year we have also received some enquiries from institutional buyers for air purifiers in the Delhi-NCR region.”

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“In the face of escalating pollution, CBRE remains unwavering in its commitment to prioritise the welfare of our employees. We have taken proactive steps to protect health and enhance their work environment. Online doctor sessions offer our team expert guidance and precautions for respiratory wellbeing, while advanced HEPA filters, installation of air-cleaning plants, and the upgradation of additional dust capturing bag filters inside our offices ensures absolutely fresh indoor air quality,” said real consultancy firm CBRE India.

Some employers have instituted long-term measures in their HR policies. NTPC, for instance, offers reimbursements to employees for products such as air-purifiers, EV chargers and solar water heaters depending on their salary grade levels.

(With inputs from K R Srivats, Abhishek Law and S Ronendra Singh)