Yesterday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation and extended the countrywide lockdown till May 3 to curb the coronavirus spread. However, according to guidelines issued by the government, there might be some concession for technology businesses from April 20, provided they’re not in a ‘hotspot’ area with a high number of COVID-19 cases.
One of the key relaxations for IT companies will allow employees to work from the office at 50% capacity. In a statement, the government said that the digital economy plays an important role in the country’s growth:
Digital economy is critical to the services sector and is important for national growth. Accordingly, e-commerce operations, operations of IT and IT enabled services, data and call centres for Government activities, and online teaching and distance learning are all permitted activities now.
Despite the national lockdown being implemented starting from March 24, several IT workers had to go into their offices to work, because of strict security restrictions and the lack of infrastructure to support remote work.
In an interview earlier this week, Debjani Ghosh, the president of prominent Indian IT trade association NASSCOM, said almost 90% of employees are working from home.
— CNBC-TV18 (@CNBCTV18Live) April 14, 2020
While the new regulations will allow half of tech firms’ employees to return to offices, NASSCOM suggested offices should only operate at 15-20% capacity in the first phase.
Good to see the MHA directive stating that 50% of IT sector can go back to work.
Our back to work guidance to the industry would be a phased approach (15-20% workforce in Phase 1) with stringent safety measures in place
@HMOIndia @rsprasad @OfficeOfRSP @PMOIndia @debjani_ghosh_
— NASSCOM (@nasscom) April 15, 2020
These new relaxations can be a boon for the IT industry as it might be able to mitigate losses through a mix of on-premise and remote work, and avoid layoffs.