Work in the time of Corona

Our Bureau | Updated on March 14, 2020

It’s not business as usual as the virus has changed working style dramatically

For the last four days, Gurugram has worn an empty look. The long Holi weekend, combined with a diktat from many organisations to their employees to work from home in the wake of the corona virus scare, left the roads gloriously traffic-free.

Spooked by the Corona scare, India Inc, much like corporations in the US and China, is beginning to down shutters. If the Paytm employee testing positive caused panic in Gurugram, then in Hyderabad, Cognizant India shut its office for disinfection and sanitation, putting its workers into a remote work drill after a person in their building working in another office tested positive.

Many companies are not taking chances and asking employees to work from home. Events are getting postponed or cancelled as companies put travel bans in place for their employees. Face to face meetings have all but stopped, with people preferring calls and video conferencing.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), has issued an advisory to all employers in India asking them to take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of this virus within their workplaces.

SHRM has recommended employers to consider the following preventive measures: “First, send symptomatic employees home until they produce documentation from a medical professional that they are able to return to work.

Second, require employees returning from high-risk areas to tele-work during the incubation period, only returning to the office when they can produce medical documentation confirming they are able to return to work.”

Meanwhile, those who have kept their offices open are practising these drills:

Stopping biometric attendance: The government as well as several private companies have issued a memo that use of biometric devices has been stopped.

Deep cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched objects and surfaces such as telephones, keyboards, door handles, desks and tables.

Populating the workplace with soaps, alcohol-based rubs and hand-washing facilities.


Many have put up posters on hand hygiene.

Crockery and cutlery in shared kitchen areas are being cleaned with warm water and detergent and dried thoroughly.

As for employees, many are celebrating the remote work drill, pointing out that this could be the start of more flexible arrangements that could be put in place permanently.

The only downside: there is huge pressure on communication providers — video conferencing and broadband.

Will the bandwidth hold?

Published on March 12, 2020

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