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Friday, November 27, 2020

COVID-19 outbreak: Pune Inc asks staff to work from home

For many manufacturing companies, work from home not an ideal option

By: Express News Service | Pune | Updated: March 14, 2020 2:31:49 pm
COVID-19 outbreak: Pune Inc asks staff to work from home Business On The Go: A man sells masks on a bus at Swargate state transport station in Pune on Friday. (Express Photo by Pavan Khengre)

The Maharashtra government’s announcement to shut schools, colleges, multiplexes, gyms, swimming pools besides urging organisations to allow employees to opt work from home option in the wake of coronavirus outbreak, has posed new challenges for Pune Inc.

While software companies can allow a section of its workforce to operate from home, the manufacturing sector finds itself in a challenging situation to follow the same due to the nature of work.

Since the last week, many firms in Rajiv Gandhi Technology Park in Hinjewadi have started allowing their employees to work from home. However, the number of such employees is not significant, according to officials of the Hinjewadi Industries Association (HIA). They added that only about 20 small and mid level companies have allowed their employees to work from home.

“Allowing work from home enmasse will pose operational challenges for companies as only certain sections of employees can be allowed to do so. For support and other staff, it will mean issuance of laptops to every employee. Security concerns will also be raised by clients,” said an HIA official.

Another official said work from home has various compliance issues that need to be looked into. Ministries of IT and Commerce have different guidelines in this regard and industry associations are actively working with authorities to get clarity, said an official.

A senior official of an industry association pointed at how units in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) have different criteria than those in the Science and Technology Park.

Prior to the government’s directives, most companies have already started contact tracing of employees who had been to a foreign country. All such employees have been asked to work from home for the next 15 days before joining the office, irrespective of whether they were showing symptoms of COVID-19 or not. Also basic hygiene like hand washing and usage of alcohol-based sanitisers have become mandatory in all offices.

Meanwhile, many in the automotive or manufacturing sector have ruled out the work from home option. In such industries, employees have to be present every day. In such a situation, companies have decided to limit the presence of ‘foreigners’ among them.

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