Economy

India Inc in preventive mode: Issues travel advisories, cautions against infection

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on March 05, 2020

Social activists distribute masks in wake of the coronavirus scare at a metro station in Bengaluru, on Thursday   -  PTI

Employees encouraged to work from home; events of large gatherings postponed

Concerned over the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19), India Inc has sprung into action to protect and educate employees. Many companies have issued advisories and are encouraging employees to work from home.

Several companies have suspended foreign travel, while some banks and insurance companies have asked senior executives to refrain even from domestic travel. Advisories for precaution against the infection such as not to shake hands, use of hand sanitisers and drinking adequate water between intervals, have been issued.

After one Paytm employee in Gurugram tested positive for the infection, the company has advised its team members to get tests done. “We have advised all our colleagues to work from home for a couple of days while we get our offices sanitised. However, there will not be any impact on our daily operations and Paytm services will continue as usual,” a Paytm spokesperson had said on Wednesday.

IT services firm Tech Mahindra has issued an employee advisory and is undertaking various preventive measures, including having a panel of doctors on standby across all its centres, educating employees on dos and dont’s, among others. Restrictions have been imposed on both domestic and international travel, while the firm has postponed all internal events of large gatherings, and asked employees to use technologies such as telepresence and videoconferencing.

Harshvendra Soin, Chief People Officer at Tech Mahindra, said: “In case of Covid-19 symptoms, employees are being asked to avail work from home as well. All our office locations and guest houses are also being stocked with adequate supplies of sanitisers, emergency medicines and food, among others.”

“The crisis will pass, but I think it’s making the world press a permanent ‘Reset’ button. 1) It’ll accelerate working from home 2) lead to more digital ‘virtual’ conferences 3) More video calls, fewer meetings. 4) Less air travel, leading to a greener footprint. Anything else?,” Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra said on Twitter.

On its part, AbhiBus.com will hand-deliver protection masks to all those who book tickets on its platform, even as the online travel aggregator will provide hand sanitizers in a partner bus services.

“On our own, we are trying to make the awareness go viral against the deadly virus,” Rohit Sharma, Chief Operating Officer at Abhibus.com, said.

Tata Communications, which already has flexible working policies like work from home and flexible working hours, has bought in certain travel restrictions, while Axis Bank has re-scheduled a media dinner.

Peter Quinlan, Vice-President of Unified Communications and Collaboration Product Management at Tata Communications, said: “I believe the effect of this outbreak will be both an immediate acceleration of organisations’ plans for collaboration technologies and flexible work policies, as well as a longer-term shift in people’s willingness to embrace these technologies – it will become the new normal.”

Our Bengaluru Bureau adds: Infosys, Wipro and other IT companies have restricted its employees from travelling to China, Hong Kong and Macau while banning all non-essential travel across its global offices.

Sources in Infosys and Wipro said all non-essential travel has been banned while some of them have instructed their employees so work from home. “There will be no near - time impact but we need to find out how long will this last,” a spokesperson for a leading IT company told BusinessLine.

Bengaluru is home to 67,000 IT companies and contributes $50 billion or nearly 40 per cent of the country’s total IT exports. The IT industry in Bengaluru employs 1 million directly and 3 million indirectly.

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Published on March 05, 2020
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