Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

India's tech firms including Wipro, Infosys, work to minimise Coronavirus risk

Technology is replacing travel wherever possible, work from home policies have been implemented and business continuity plans are in place

Harichandan Arakali
Published: Mar 12, 2020 01:37:37 PM IST
Updated: Mar 18, 2020 11:53:26 AM IST

India's tech firms including Wipro, Infosys, work to minimise Coronavirus riskImage: Shutterstock 
Tech companies in India, which employ several million people, many of whom routinely travel on work, are taking steps to minimise the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their businesses and staff.

Companies such as Wipro and Infosys, among India’s top IT services providers, are implementing a host of measures from curtailing travel to implementing work-from-home policies, where possible. Business continuity plans are also in place.

“Wipro has taken a series of preventive measures to protect its employees from the Coronavirus outbreak. The company has suspended travel to and transit through mainland China, including Hong Kong and Macau, until further notice,” the Bengaluru company said in an email to Forbes India.

Employees have also been advised to avoid all non-critical international and domestic travel. Any employee who has travelled to an affected area in the past few days has been asked to work from home for 14 days before returning to office.

Over two-thirds of the revenues of the $180 billion IT and IT-enabled services industry comes from exports, mostly to the US, but also to Britain, western Europe, Australia and other markets. Thousands of their staff work onsite at some of the biggest companies in the world.

Wipro has enabled work-from-home in the affected regions. The company is using video conferencing and messaging platforms, wherever possible, to conduct business.

“We are adhering to the World Health Organization (WHO) directives and guidance regarding Coronavirus and have put in place thermal screening, masks, hand rubs, at our offices in infected regions,” Wipro said. The company has teams for global environment, health and safety and crisis management, which continue to assess the situation and will decide on the future course of action, scheduling regular assessment calls with teams in these geographies.

Infosys, without providing specifics, offered the following statement: “Infosys has well-defined disaster recovery and business continuity plans at various levels. We also have a comprehensive pandemics response plan, based on WHO and local government recommendations. In the light of the rapid spread of coronavirus, we are constantly monitoring the situation, following applicable government directives and ensuring regular communication with our employees across the world. We have put in place several measures, including increased precautions at our facilities, travel advisories, remote working, and a dedicated help desk, to ensure employee safety and business continuity.”

National Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), the IT industry’s lobby, is also working to ensure safety and business continuity, it told Forbes India. “NASSCOM and the technology industry is fully committed to deploy the necessary precautions required to deal with this situation. Business continuity and employee safety remains our key priority as an industry,” Nasscom said in the statement.

The industry is also putting in place contingency measures and exploiting technology to ensure business continuity for customers and employees, making use of online collaboration tools for business interactions, client meetings and internal workouts.

Employees who are even slightly unwell or showing any suspected symptoms, are advised to take all necessary caution with regular medical check-ups. These employees are advised to not be in physical contact with others.

NASSCOM is also representing to the government to allow flexibility in specific policies for special economic zones / software technology parks of India units, which restrict work from home. This is critical for companies to ensure business continuity.

“Based on discussions with our members, we do not see any immediate business impact; however, we are following developments around this issue closely,” Nasscom said. “The industry has a large footprint of on-shore and offshore centres and client requirements can be met through such centres, if required. The industry has internal task forces to monitor the situation continuously.”