35% of work cannot be done from home, says IT sector

35% of work cannot be done from home, says IT sector

Representative image. (Credit: iStockPhoto)

Companies across industry verticals may have started implementing Work From Home (WFH) for employees to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, but the IT sector struggles to do the same, owing to the onerous compliance and technical requirements under the prevailing OSP (other service providers) regime. 

Companies across sectors are asking their staff to work from home and adopting technologies like telepresence and video-conferencing to ensure business continuity. There are requirements that include establishing PPVPN (Provider Provisioned Virtual Private Network) connectivity, sharing pre-defined locations of extended agents (employees) and providing high monetary security deposits. 

The PPVPN is generally used by companies to ensure secure communications for employees working from remote locations. 

According to industry experts, certain critical works cannot be conducted from home because the IT workers need access to very critical data and client servers that are made available to them only in a secured environment. 

"Certain works cannot be moved out of the secured network because clients do not allow access to their network outside the office. IT employees need to work as a team at a centralised location as clients do not want to provide access to data outside," said T V Mohandas Pai, former HR director at Infosys. He said the government needed to understand these issues before making it mandatory for the IT employees to work from home. 

"The infrastructure related to fibre optics and electricity supply is very poor in Bengaluru. The state government should first address these issues on priority. The IT industry is very responsible and understands the current situation, and all precaution has been taken to ensure the safety of those workers who will continue to work from their offices," he explained. 

Pai said at least 30-35% of the work carried out by IT firms cannot be shifted out of their secured office environments. 

Some of the works such as infrastructure maintenance, software maintenance, production support and critical call centre operations are required to be done from a secured office as clients do not permit them to be done from home due to confidential data. "The clients have signed a statement of work (SOW) with us which restricts us from moving the work outside of the offshore development centres (ODCs). There is a risk of leaking the sensitive client information if the work is done from home," an employee of a leading IT firm in the city said. 

Nasscom, which represents IT and BPO companies as well as startups, has written to Union Minister for Communications, Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, on the matter. It urged that the requirements pertaining to WFH under the OSP regime be relaxed for a month as an interim emergency measure. 

In a tweet, Nasscom president Debjani Ghosh said: "Dear@rsprasad, in order to mitigate potential threats to employees and ensure business continuity, IT industry requires urgent help from @DoT_India to waive off restrictions around work from home under OSP regime for this period. Request your urgent support pls." 

WNS Group CEO Keshav Murugesh said Indian tech industry had always responded quickly to the environment to ensure employees were protected and that the industry delivered as the world's IT leader.

"We must urgently have work from home ability and we request @DoT_India to help address request of @nasscom. @debjani ghosh_ @rsprasad," he said in a tweet. 

Meanwhile, the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI), an autonomous society under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, has warranted the STP/EHTP units to allow their employees to work from home in a safe and secure environment with the FTP policy as an enabler. STPI has relaxed certain rules to enable the employees of IT companies to take their duty-free laptops/computers, etc out of the premises of the units for working upon by authorised employees. 

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