KOLKATA | MUMBAI | NEW DELHI: India Inc will reset its workspaces once work resumes after the lockdown, with large-scale behavioural and physical space alterations on cards.
Businesses are set to redefine seating at offices in accordance with social distancing norms, introduce shift-based work, go virtual with meetings, ramp up cleaning protocol with frequent sanitisation and provision of hand sanitisers, and reintroduction of access cards in place of biometric, company executives said.
The post-Covid-19 workplace will also have a large number of employees working from home, they said.
The ministry of home affairs had last week issued new rules of work from an office (WFO), making social distancing mandatory in offices and shop floors alike. Business is in preparation mode to reflect the new normal at work.
A host of companies ET spoke with, including ITC,Hindustan Unilever, Dabur, Capgemini, Tech Mahindra, Microsoft, RBS Services, and Micron India, are incorporating new norms with employee safety as their prime focus.
Businesses also expect the use of office workspace to be drastically different from pre-Covid era, where optimising the use of office space was essential.
At ITC, social distancing measures include a roster-based system of presence at the workplace, staggered meal timings with seating demarcation at least six feet apart, ensuring adequate space between workstations, restriction of gatherings in common areas, increased spacing between seats in meeting rooms, demarcated standing areas at entry and exit points and within elevators, and restrictions on the movement of employees between floors.
Amitav Mukherji, head of corporate human resources at ITC, said the company will not allow external visitors inside the office premises and, if a visit is necessary, then it will only be allowed in specially designated rooms.
IT major Capgemini plans to call only less than 10% employees who are working on extremely critical client projects to office. "95% of our workforce is working from home and we will continue with that for few more weeks until we are sure that it is safe for our employees to travel and come to work every day,” said Venkat Neelakantan, vice president and regional head of corporate real estate services, Asia Pacific, at Capgemini.
Tech Mahindra has started drawing boxes on the floor in lift areas as well as inside lifts to facilitate social distancing even as most its employees continue to work from home. At all offices and even in washrooms, it has demarcated space to help employees maintain social distance, a company spokesperson said.
The country’s largest consumer products maker HUL will follow the necessary safety protocols such as hygiene, sanitation and social distancing whenever it decides to restore normalcy, a company spokesperson said.
At Dabur, which has had three factories for essential goods running through the lockdown, these processes are already mostly in place. A Sudhakar, head, human capital, said Dabur plans to open more factories after necessary clearances. All this is adding up to significant expenses but “‘protect employees first, expenses are secondary’ is the message going out from senior management,” he said.
For its part, Microsoft is providing real-time guidance to employees as the Covid-19 situation continues to evolve in India. "At this time, only a small number of employees who perform essential services continue to be on-site at our offices. We will continue to monitor the situation and take necessary action to help protect employees," a company spokesperson said.
IT firm Micron India is strictly compartmentalising the lines of movement of employees to avoid contact with each other, its managing director Anand Ramamoorthy said.
Innovation and operations hub forRoyal Bank of Scotland, RBS Services India is working to follow the new safety norms and is removing biometric access and managing with access cards. PLus, with an increased focus on work from home, there will be greater investment in improving home infrastructure from health and safety perspective, said HR head Maneesh Menda.
April 22, 2020