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Work from home is the bug fix for technology companies operating in India

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Bengaluru/Mumbai/New Delhi: On Tuesday morning, Intel India issued an extensive email advisory to its employees in Bengaluru mentioning travel restrictions, selective home quarantine, guidance to attend large gatherings and even handling packages.

Intel’s pandemic leadership team and emergency operations centre teams are monitoring the situation closely, the tech firm said in the email, adding that it has begun screening visitors, delivery people and new contingent workers arriving at all its sites.

“Security personnel will now ask visitors, delivery people and new contingent workers about recent travel to areas impacted by Intel’s travel restrictions and potential exposure to Covid-19,” an employee, who received the email, said on condition of anonymity.

“An Intel employee in Bangalore has potentially been exposed and is currently under quarantine in accordance with government requirements. We’re monitoring the coronavirus situation closely and working to ensure that our employees have the information and resources they need to stay safe and informed,” Intel said in a statement.

As the Covid-19 virus sweeps across cities and nations, both domestic firms and MNCs are cancelling key events, adopting work-from-home options and sanitizing workplaces to ensure employee safety.

Xiaomi has called off all phone launch events in March. “We are taking this decision with the objective of reducing exposure risk to coronavirus (Covid-19) for our Mi fans, media friends, partners and Xiaomi employees,” the company said in a letter. Xiaomi was expected to launch its Redmi Note 9 series in India on 12 March.

Oppo’s subsidiary, Realme, has also called off its 5 March event in New Delhi to launch the Realme 6 smartphone.

“In light of the current reports of coronavirus impact and related advisory by health officials to maintain social distance as a precautionary measure, I am calling off our biggest event. We will still give live speech in stadium with you watching the event online,” Realme CEO Madhav Sheth tweeted on Tuesday.

Home-grown information technology firms such as Wipro Ltd and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) have suspended travel to locations prone to the virus, advised working from home and self-quarantine wherever needed.

“Specifically in Italy, as a precautionary measure we have implemented work from home and travel restrictions. This had also been put in place across some countries in Asia Pacific, and is being monitored and modified based on the situation in each location,” said a TCS spokesperson.

Bengaluru-based Wipro has suspended travel to and transit through mainland China, including Hong Kong and Macau, until further notice. Employees have been advised to avoid non-critical travel to Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Italy. Wipro has enabled a significant number of employees in China to work from home, implemented thermal screening and use of surgical masks and frequent sanitization of premises there, said a Wipro spokesperson.

For many individuals and organizations, Microsoft Teams videoconferencing, chat and collaboration are helping people continue to work and collaborate. “By making Teams available to all for free for six months, we hope that we can support public health and safety by making remote work even easier,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.

Keith Guttridge, a senior analyst at Gartner, who was in Mumbai this week to attend the Gartner Application, Architecture, Development and Integration Summit, said a lot of application-related work could be done digitally. “Gartner employees are communicating largely through digital conferencing methods and work-from-home options. Physical supply chains are likely to be impacted, but software delivery is safe,” he said.

Among social media companies with offices in India, Twitter has asked its employees across the world to work from home if they can and join internal meetings remotely. All workplaces and real estate are being deep-cleaned and sanitized and visual reminders encouraging personal hygiene best practices are being set. Pre-packaged, pre-composed, and pre-plated food options are also being given, Twitter’s chief human resources officer, Jennifer Christie, said in a 2 March blog post.

Facebook said it will ban all social visits to its offices worldwide, including India, and job interviews will be held via video conferencing. Amazon too is holding job interviews via videoconferencing.

The spread of Covid-19 has marked a tumultuous start to the year for many tech firms that have either cancelled or postponed annual events and conferences.

On Tuesday, US software company Adobe cancelled its annual digital summit in Las Vegas, due to be held in March, and Google confirmed that the Cloud Next ’20: Digital Connect summit will take place online only from 6-8 April.

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