For any IT services company, there are three stakeholders – the organisation, the employee and the customer. In a best-case scenario, all three agree on remote work, provided the company has the necessary infrastructure and the employees are able.
However, issues may arise if the customer is wary of remote work. This happens because of a lack of confidence that remote work will not hamper data security or delivery of outcome. This is the very reason why offshore development centres (ODC) have come into existence, where with a dedicated core team and infrastructure, the customer is assured of delivery and quality.
The situation at the moment is different and so are the issues associated with it. The lockdown makes it impossible for teams to travel to ODCs and work on projects. This has brought about an unexpected challenge. When employees are forced to work remotely, the clients have to be convinced that security risks can be mitigated.
Currently, it is a ‘lift and shift’ situation. As of now, the office is trying to provide the necessary infrastructure at the employees’ residences, to facilitate remote work for those who require the same
Kishore GR, SVP-Mphasis, says, “How to offset that risk in a non-ODC environment and convince the customer to allow the employees to work remotely, is the challenge.”
With the restrictions on movement across the country, clients are forced to accept the current conditions and it is an advantage for the Company. Kishore adds that, earlier, the clients had to be sold hard on the mitigating-the-risk factor, but now, with no other choice left, a demonstration of the measures taken is enough to carry the deal forward. “Now, 90 per cent of OD customers have lent their approvals subject to having secure VPNs,” says Lakhsmanan MT, CHRO, L&T Nxt.
Even when customers approve of remote working, connectivity remains an issue. Lakhsmanan explains that bandwidth is a major challenge. “People have to be trained on how to connect in tier-II, tier-III cities, where connectivity issues are higher.” Fuelled by current demand, downloads of software, which facilitate remote interaction, such as Microsoft Teams have seen a steep increase in the last few days.
Employees also face difficulties in working remotely. Many individuals residing in shared or paying-guest accommodations, do not have access to an environment conducive to deliver. To resolve this issue, organisations are trying to provide company accommodation to the employees.
People have to be trained on how to connect in tier-II, tier-III cities, where connectivity issues are higher.
“We have done this for a few of our employees from the accounts department,” adds Kishore. Depending on the number of people who come under this segment, companies provide shared accommodation for a team or single-bedroom apartments for fewer employees.
“Currently, it is a ‘lift and shift’ situation. As of now, the office is trying to provide the necessary infrastructure at the employees’ residences, to facilitate remote work for those who require the same,” explains Kishore.
“Our business operations have ceased in all locations. Only a handful of people are there in the office presently. On receiving permission from the authorities, which should be coming soon, we can have the rest also— around 25 people— in office,” says Lakshmanan.
The few who are still going to office continue to face problems in commuting. For this reason, L&T Nxt has provided its employees with accommodations near the offices, with all facilities, including food. Such arrangements have just begun and Lakshmanan explains that employees may soon be working in shifts. Currently, there is no fixed roster as to how many days an employee is going to work, since the lockdown has just begun. “As the days progress, things will become clearer,” concludes Lakshmanan.