Due to the Covid wave, India has had to scale back its back-to-office drive over the last two or three days
Due to the Covid wave, India has had to scale back its back-to-office drive over the last two or three days. Many companies have returned to 100% work-from-home (WFH) or the number of workers in offices to as little as 10% per department. Others have stated that employees who come to work in their own cars must obtain permission from the top.
Several major corporations, including ITC, Samsung, LG, Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Parle Products, RPG Group, Dabur, Haier, Vivo, Panasonic, and Axis Bank, have provided new guidelines to workers in order to protect them from the second wave of attacks. Most plants, however, are still operational, but with additional safety precautions in place.
Parle Products, Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Ceat, and Axis Bank are among the companies that have reverted to work-from-home policies for their workers.
Santrupt Misra, global director of HR for the Aditya Birla Group, said that while 50-60% of employees used to come to work, that number is now likely down to 35-40%. Local representatives, he said, have been given authority to handle the situation and make calls as required.
Employees have been recommended to continue working from home in a new advisory that includes risk-mitigation steps, according to ITC Ltd’s head of corporate human resources, Amitav Mukherji. This includes limiting office presence to only what is absolutely necessary, not allowing visitors, not taking public transportation, wearing masks all the time, social distancing, and avoiding outstation travel.
Branch operations will continue as normal, according to Axis Bank HR head Rajkamal Vempati, but corporate employees have been asked to return to September protocols, in which the majority of employees, with the exception of those in some sensitive functions, operate from home.
After the festive season, when sales peaked, companies in the consumer goods and automotive industries have taken many steps to get workers back to work, resulting in a quick recovery as infection rates fell.
Samsung used to have 50% of its workers work from workplaces, but that number is now down to 30%. LG Electronics India has reduced its office staffing to 10% per department, down from 30% previously. Panasonic has reduced its office staffing to 50% from 70%, and it is separating seats by using conference rooms and common areas.
Though factories continue to operate normally, major auto companies in Maharashtra have shifted office workers back to work from home.
Mahindra & Mahindra’s Rajeshwar Tripathi, chief human resources officer, automotive and farm sectors, said the organization is closely tracking the pandemic’s second wave and is taking effective steps.
Milind Apte, the chief of HR at tire manufacturer Ceat, said the company had reverted to 100% work from home due to a recent increase in cases. When the Maharashtra curbs were announced recently, the investment in digital technology and hosting of online meetings for feedback and client interactions had paved the way for a smooth transition.
According to Rajesh Goel, Director, Marketing and Sales, Honda Cars India, there is a growing reliance on work from home due to the recent rise in COVID cases. Depending on the case, office attendance has ranged from a low of 10% to a moderate of 25% to 40% over the different months.
“Honda has successfully implemented a hybrid work model for associates working from home and the workplace, with roster-based attendance. In the current scenario, this allows us to fulfill our business requirements. “As a result of the format, I’ve gained valuable experience and have developed a routine of working from home,” Goel added.
Manufacturing plants are operating at maximum capacity, with safety measures being tightened even further. Most businesses have also implemented vaccination programs for their workers who are eligible. Covid vaccination special leave has also been introduced by Dabur.
To be sure, the Maharashtra government has now instructed private-sector workers to operate from home until April 30, with the exception of certain industries such as finance and critical services.
Companies are, however, taking additional precautions in other locations, as infections are on the rise in several states, including Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. Parle Products, India’s largest biscuit manufacturer, will assess the situation on a weekly basis before deciding whether to return to work.
Even outside Maharashtra, according to Supratik Bhattacharya, chief talent officer at RPG Group, workers are discouraged from coming to offices unless there is an emergency. “All of our workers prefer to operate from home, with the exception of critical utilities and factories,” he said.