Chennai: Information Technology (IT) companies in and around Tamil Nadu's capital have decided to continue the work-from-home policy for now even though the state government has allowed them to resume operations with limited staff.
According to industry officials, the companies want to see how the coronavirus is spreading and then take a call on asking their employees to report for duty at the offices.
While employees say their productivity has gone up and women employees are happy to manage their children also at home in addition to official work, whether this could continue when life again returns to normal is a big question.
According to industry officials to whom IANS spoke, only a limited number of employees mainly involved in infrastructure maintenance are reporting at offices at present.
The companies are adopting a wait-and-watch approach rather than risking infections among staff and thereby creation of another Covid-19 cluster. The IT companies will ask their employees to get back to office in a phased manner.
For instance, the 2,500-employees strong payments technology company Financial Software and Systems (FSS) founder and Managing Director Nagaraj Mylandla told IANS: "The current decision is to get back employees to FSS and customer locations in a phased manner starting June 1."
He said a minimum 25 per cent of the employee base in India and a larger "50 per cent of overseas locations" will continue to work from home.
"At Siruseri (Tamil Nadu) and Thane (Maharashtra) we have a large setup of 24x7 operations and hence we have government and police permission to have 100 staff each in both the locations," Mylandla said.
He said 80 per cent of the company's total employees are on work-from-home mode or at data centres.
"Companies are taking time to decide on asking their employees to report at the offices. They want to know how the coronavirus is spreading and the implications for them," Ajit Chordia, Managing Director, Olympia Tech Park, told IANS.
He said 14 companies operate from Olympia Tech Park. On normal days, the building will see footfall of about 12,000 people. But now, only about 300 people come to the offices there.
A software professional in Cognizant, not wanting to be quoted, told IANS that a bulk of the workforce are working from home till further orders.
Similar is the case with financial technology company Intellect Design Arena Ltd, where majority of employees -- total of 4,500 employees based in Chennai, Gurugram, Mumbai and overseas -- are working from home except the hardware maintenance officials.
An official of Intellect Design told IANS that the situation is expected to continue for some more time to come. He said employees have VPN connections and there is no hassle of working from home now, adding that the system is being streamlined further.
Echoing similar views was an official of Ramco Systems who said it is work-from-home mode for some more time for company staff.
Similarly, companies operating from IT parks here have decided to wait it out for some more time to ask their employees to return to offices.
Even if one person in a building is infected with coronavirus, there is risk of the entire building getting sealed.
As regards the output from working from home, the general view of employees was that their productivity had gone up. But whether it would be the same when the restrictions are lifted and there are other distractions and demands is a moot point.
On the other hand, Sanjay Tyagi, Director, Software Technology Parks of India, told IANS: "Smaller IT companies like business process outsourcing (BPO) units want to resume operations at the earliest with higher number of employees."
He said the companies found it difficult to enable their employees to work from home as their nature of operations is conducive to work from office.
"In the case of IT services companies, working from home may be possible but it will be difficult for an IT product company where regular personal interactions are required between the developers," Mylandla said.