To avoid COVID-19, B'luru firm works from nature’s lap

To avoid coronavirus scare, Bengaluru firm works from nature’s lap

Half of the 20-member firm now work in Theni, while the rest have opted to work from home as they cannot leave their family alone. Photo: DH

Around 10 people sitting in a circle – some even resting their heads on their pillows – holding laptops in their hand in the middle of a coconut farm, literally in the lap of Mother Nature.

Such a sight of engineers writing codes for an update they are planning for their product – a mobile application – has become a common view for people in Thevaram and Hanumanthanpatti villages in picturesque Theni district for the past few days.

Instaclean, a start-up firm based out of HSR layout in Bengaluru, has shifted its office to farms in Theni, 450 kms away, to escape the coronavirus scare that has engulfed India’s very own Silicon Valley. Nestled in the Western Ghats, the villages offer breath-taking views of mountains and the software engineers have a gala time in nature’s lap after work.

Half of the 20-member firm now work out of farms in Theni, while the rest have opted to work from home as they cannot leave their family members alone in Bengaluru. One of the co-founders of the firm is stuck in the US.  

Why Theni? The company’s CEO and co-founder Aravind Raju hails from here and he decided to shift the company for a while to his hometown to work without any fear of contracting the deadly virus. The firm, which was working in a cashew farm owned by Aravind’s grandmother, has now shifted to a coconut farm in Hanumanthanpatti.

“More than the disease it is the fear and panic that actually drove us out of Bengaluru. We shifted here in the first week of March when Bengaluru was slowly getting into panic mode on coronavirus. Luckily no one wears a mask here in Theni and we get to breath fresh air. Also, there is no panic over coronavirus,” Raju told DH.

Though Raju and his co-workers faced issues like slow bandwidth in the beginning, hopping from one farm to another, they have now found the right place, where the internet connectivity is faster, to work. Most of all, Raju said, it is the environment and home-cooked food that has made him, and his co-workers feel “enthused” about the new workplace.

“We have home-cooked food instead of pizza and burger. And we have replaced milk shakes and soft drinks with coconut water. Relocating to a village has brought in a change in our lifestyle too,” Raju added.

Shifting to a village has also brought in a lifestyle change for the engineers, who were used to city life. “We get up early and now we follow 7,8,9 method. 7 hours of work, 8 hours of sleep and nine hours for ourselves. We are thoroughly enjoying our work and stay in the Western Ghats,” an employee of the firm said.

The firm has developed Instaclean, a mobile application that helps declutter a mailbox by keeping the important ones and throwing unwanted mails.

The idea of working out of a farm or from a village set-up has been on Raju’s mind for some time now, but the situation that arose out of coronavirus scare made him implement sooner than he expected. The start-up has also decided to contribute its bit to protect the environment by planting a tree for every download that they recorded since March.

“We will most probably be planting those trees in the villages where we worked,” Raju added.

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