Work From Home to Stay: India has been recording rising number of Covid-19 cases each day amid fears of the third wave, triggered by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. This has put the country to a halt again, with several states including Delhi, Maharashtra and West Bengal imposing restrictions on movement of people. The Centre has also taken cognisance of the rising number of infections and asked citizens to be alert, maintain social distancing norms, wear masks and get vaccinated as soon as possible. The government a day back issued instructions pertaining to office attendance, in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.
The personnel ministry in its order dated Monday, January 3, said that 50 per cent of employees below the level of Under Secretary are to work from home. It has exempted pregnant women and people with disabilities from coming to office, and encouraged staggered office timings for employees.
“In view of the initial signs of surge in cases of COVID-19, the matter regulating attendance of Central Government employees has been reviewed and it has been decided as under, with immediate effect till 31st January, 2022,” the ministry said in its order.
Under this, the recommendations are:
a) Physical attendance of Government servants below the level of Under Secretary shall be restricted to 50 per cent of the actual strength and the remaining 50 per cent shall work from home. A roster may be prepared accordingly by all the Departments concerned
b) All officers of the level of Under Secretary & above are to attend office oon regular basis
c) Persons with Disabilities and Pregnant women employeesshall be exempted from attendingoffice but are required to work from home
d) The officers I staff shall follow staggeredtimings, to avoid over-crowdingin offices, as indicted — (a) 9.00 A.M. to 5.30 P.M (b) 10.00 AM. to 6.30 P.M.
e) All officers/staff residing in the containment zone shall be exempted from coming to offices till the containment zone is denotifed.
f) Those officers/ staff who are not attending office and working from home shall be available on telephone and other electronic means of communication at all times
g) Meeting, as far as possible, shall be conducted on video-conferencing and personal meetings with visitors,unless absolutely necessary in public interest, are to be avoided
h) All Officers/Staff have to ensure strict compliance with Covid-appropriate behavior viz. frequent washing of hands/ sanitization, wearing a mask/ face cover, observing social distancing at all times
i) Proper cleaning and frequent sanitization at workplace, particularly of the frequently touched surfaces may be ensured. HoDs may also ensure non- crowding in corridors, canteens etc
Not only government offices, IT companies are also planning to keep up the work from home routine. This includes IT giants like TCS, Wipro and Infosys.
IT firms like TCS, Infosys and HCL Technologies had previously expressed their intention to call employees back to their offices as the second wave was in the process of subsiding. But that seems to have bleak chances now. The health ministry has also advised offices to not call back employees and implement the work from home regime as much as possible.
Companies, especially in the IT sector, have already expressed their motive to continue the work from home routine.
According to a report by the Economic Times, senior executives have said that they are now being cautious about their back to office plans amid virus threat. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s largest IT major in terms of workforce, has said that less than 10 per cent of the company’s employees are working from their offices currently. Any plans for a full fledged return to office will be a calibrated move, the company was quoted as saying by Economic Times.
Infosys, the Bengaluru-based IT major, has said that it has “taken a cautious approach” keeping in mind the “changing health situation”, as per the report. The N.R. Narayana Murthy-owned company had previously said it would bring back its employees to office.