Businesses in wait & watch mode on office work

Fear and concerns over the new variant of Covid Omicron have pushed back plans for several companies to reopen their offices. In many others, the number of people visiting offices has dropped dramatically, as stricter Covid protocols are once again in effect.

According to human resources professionals FE spoke to, most companies had been aiming to return to work since January or February and had had their employees return to their home sites for an easy transition to the offline model. However, the new variant keeps them in standby and watch mode.

Roopank Chaudhary, Partner and Commercial Director (Human Capital Solutions), India and South Asia at Aon, said that while most companies are in a standby and sleep mode to determine the impact of the new variant, some have slowed down their efforts. plans to get people back to offices.

“Over the past two weeks, the number of employees coming to the office has declined, given recent fears of the variant. Most companies are looking to wait until mid-January to renew their efforts to resume their functions. Some companies have cut back on business travel and are slowing down team meetings and face-to-face conferences, which started in full swing a month ago, ”Chaudhary said.

According to PS Viswanath, Managing Director and CEO of Randstad India, companies with shop floor operations and employees in direct customer contact positions are on high alert to avoid risking the health of their employees and others. stakeholders. “Several companies in Tier 1 cities have advised against long-distance travel and in-person meetings in the coming weeks due to state-level restrictions. Some of the big conglomerates and tech giants have imposed strict standards of masking and social distancing on their premises, while others are expected to revert to the ‘work from home’ model until further notice, ”he said. he declares.

At JSW Group for example, the Covid protocols have been strengthened. Only those who are vaccinated with both doses are allowed to work from their desks, and the rest work remotely. Social distancing, the wearing of masks and heat screening for all employees, associates and visitors have been reinstated. “Even with 100% of JSW’s workforce fully vaccinated, necessary Covid protocols have been tightened as a precaution. Regular RT-PCR screening is carried out in all of our factories and even in offices for those who use public transport to get to work, as well as strict sanitation and hygiene standards, ”said an executive. JSW.

Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) pursue the policy of having 50% of staff working out of offices. The decision to work from the office was left to the employees. However, they must be fully vaccinated.

Founder and Managing Director of peer-to-peer lending platform, Rajat Gandhi, said: “Given the news of the new variant of the coronavirus, we still have a comprehensive Covid policy in place. All our employees are fully vaccinated. Nevertheless, we are monitoring the situation and will take the necessary measures if necessary ”.

At PE Front Office, a software solutions company for investing in alternative assets, the situation regarding Omicron is being monitored. Ankur Agarwal, Co-Founder and CTO, PE Front Office, said the company will take the necessary steps to ensure the well-being of employees.

However, in some companies the momentum continues to be the same as at the start of the pandemic and no change in policy has worked so far. The spokesperson for Transport Corporation of India said: “As most of the employees are fully vaccinated, the relief factor is predominant. At TCI, our offices have been operational since May 2020, continuing to monitor measures such as masking at all times, disinfection, remote assistance and social distancing ”.

Maria D. Ervin