IT services power essential services, some employees must work from offices, say CEOs

IT services power essential services, some employees must work from offices, say CEOs
Photo Credit: Reuters
25 Mar, 2020

Amid the country-wide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, CEOs of large information technology (IT) services companies, including Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Infosys, said they are unable to allow a small percentage of employees to work from home as the firms power essential services across the world. 

Individual transportation would be provided for those employees, the companies said.

The companies said that IT services enable proper functioning of core infrastructure of essential services such as hospitals, as well as power, banking and financial services, and even governance and information services.

To be clear, the government, in its guidelines for the 21-day lockdown, said that private establishments in IT and IT-enabled services could continue to operate from offices, with a minimal workforce. 

However, before the government announcement, industry lobby NASSCOM had advised member companies on Tuesday to prepare for a complete lockdown and enable employees to work from home (WFH). It added that the essential services notifications cannot be used for projects with near-term deadlines and contracts carrying penalties. “This is only for truly mission-critical work, and any misuse will put us at the risk of losing the trust with the government and seriously impact the entire industry,” the organisation said in the advisory.

“We power financial backbones of several countries, support some of the largest healthcare and pharmacy companies in the world, run technology for governments and public services organisations. All these organisations have trusted TCS to manage their technology and continue to place their confidence on us to help them tide over this situation,” TCS CEO and managing director Rajesh Gopinathan said in a LinkedIn post on Tuesday.

Several IT firms have accelerated the process of enabling WFH for most employees by issuing laptops and setting up desktops at employee homes over the past few days to ensure business continuity in the industry. 

A person privy to the developments in Mumbai-based TCS told TechCircle that by Monday, 85% of the company’s employees were working remotely. However, the company did not confirm the development. Bengaluru-based Infosys, in a post on the company website, said that more than 70% of its staff was working remotely.

“We are focusing on the safety of our employees worldwide, and ensuring we diligently meet all our service commitments. We have specific business continuity plans in place and are taking steps to ensure that we maintain operational readiness, even as we continue to be guided by advisories from local governments in the 46 countries we operate in,” Salil Parekh, CEO and managing director of Infosys said on a post on company website addressing the clients.