Stay Home Stay Safe
COVID-19 has been wreaking havoc in India for about five calamitous months now, both in the health front as well as in the economical front.
After 70 days of conscientious lockdown and absolute economic standstill, industries and services along with all other sectors had to be resumed. Despite Corona looming large and with no immediate reassurance, people are compelled to choose between subsistence and safety; a rather convoluted dilemma.
For the proletariat, belonging to relatively contemptible economic circumstances, sustenance of the family is a priority, thereby having no other recourse but to head for work.
More than 4 million people in India are actively employed in the IT- sector. When the COVID-19 pandemic came ashore and movements like lockdown were being deliberated upon, the 180 billion IT sector faced an enormous change in its business format.
Nevertheless, in little more than a month into it, industry pioneers deduced that these afflictions are blessings in disguise and even are considering the possibility of a large number of employees operating from home in the post-COVID-19 world.
There is a significant cost and productivity gain in observing the work from the home model. To quote TCS Chief Operating Officer, Mr. N.G Subramanium, “ We are seeing that our team is able to handle the transaction volumes. At the same time, we are seeing that productivity, velocity, and throughput of work has significantly increased. I do not believe that the gains will be lost. There will be a lot more to gain in this new model.”
At one place where a few IT sector organizations have started to function with a full workforce, although a few companies like TCS, Cognizant, and Accenture are still observing a limited employee presence in some of their offices.
Regardless, most of the IT firms are demanding a normal work schedule and are urging their personnel to follow Government guidelines.
The guidelines state the mechanism to prevent the exponential spread of the virus, effective but not absolute. The possibility of contamination is evident and irrefutable. Under such a scenario, it is a preposterous decision to reinstate the full workforce.
The COVID-19 graph is on the rise, surpassing the recorded number of cases every single day however the employees are now urged to jeopardize themselves and their family which is certainly uncalled for.
Such impetuous measures are bound to have inimical consequences. The work environment in the offices is unpropitious, ergo resulting in low productivity, and hindered staff satisfaction.
What Are The Major Setbacks From An Employee’s Perspective?
Hassle Of Wearing Masks For Such Long Hours
It is imperative to wear a mask at all times. With the deadly virus being on the prowl, it provides the rudimentary shield to protect oneself. Wearing a mask all through the work hours is a must to ensure the safety of one and all. Consequently, it is also excruciatingly gruesome to breathe in them when worn for such a long time period ( minimum of 8 hours).
The practicality of which is questioned beyond comprehension. There are some inexorable instances like having lunch or consuming medicine, that one needs to do without them. This proliferates the odds of contagion.
Although vehement sanitization of offices, lifts, and other frequently touched surfaces are done regularly, the effective credibility of such measures is more often than not scrutinized. No fumigation or disinfection can guarantee 100% protection. Thus a deleterious sense of insecurity prevails amongst employees.
Not all can afford a vehicle of their own. Statistics reveal that more than 42% of IT sector employees use public transport. The local train services are still not available, buses are a rare sight on roads and even cabs are scarce. Needless to say, the threat of contamination while commuting in these modes of transport.
Social distancing goes haywire in the office time rush. People seem to get stacked in them like commodities. Even for the ones who can afford an app-cab, health hazards are imminent. Sanitization of cars after every trip is a myth, no scope of distancing and sharing a cab with unknown riders is best if avoided.
Sanitizer? Boon Or Threat
Alcohol-based sanitizers are recommended by the Government to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Sanitizers are a little too good at killing germs yet another aspect of this is over-usage of these sanitizers can affect the body’s microbiomes. It can kill the bacterias that are beneficial for the body.
Prolonged usage can also cause Eczema, skin irritation. Some sanitizer formulations can also affect fertility. Exposure to triclosan increases the likelihood of bacteria developing resistance to antibiotics. To add to these, alcohol-based sanitizers are inflammable and pose an acute risk of fire hazards in offices.
To Be Aware Of Touch
High contact surfaces in offices such as tabletops, elevator controls, water dispensers, doorknobs, microwaves can be a breeding ground for coronavirus. Periodical sanitization of such surfaces can lower the risk but can not eradicate it. A number of employees tend to touch them repeatedly during the long work hours. It is unequivocally non-viable to not touch them.
Lunch Time Is Equal To Hassle Time
An average IT sector employee has got a 9-hour work schedule. Therefore in such a long time-span, consumption of food is a must for the healthy functioning of the body and mind. In the time of COVID-19, one needs to be extremely cautious while having food in the office.
Food is more likely to get contaminated easily. If the specified precautions are not observed, the chances of infections increase aggressively. In the limited lunch break time frame, it is hardly feasible that one can manage to have a safe pleasant lunch.
Restroom Is No Less Than A Nightmare
Office washrooms can easily be COVID-19 hotbed. They comprise several high contact surfaces like doorknobs, faucets, toilet handles, and seats which is a threat. Observing social distancing can also be tough in some cases.
Men do get to have non-contact urinals but for women, contact is unavoidable. To cut the long story short, it is virtually impossible to keep any washroom completely sanitized, especially in the midst of a pandemic.
The Invisible Threats Of Asymptomatic Cases
Daily temperature checks, though a positive method, it does not ensure absolute safety and is not the most efficient of means to combat COVID-19. A carrier of coronavirus can even be asymptomatic, which is producing or showing no obvious symptoms of the deadly disease like fever, cough, etc.
One such silent carrier can quite conveniently infect all the office staff. There is no absolute way to determine whether one is infected or not without proper testing. The uncertainty of this aspect poses the greatest threat to an employee.
During such testing times, when life already seems difficult, it is imprudent to mandate each and every IT employee to attend offices, especially if the work can be done from home with similar productivity or even more than that.
Offices should function with a flexible schedule and prioritize productivity over attendance. Employees who wish to resume working from a desk can visit the office as well as those who lack the connectivity options.
Attendance in offices should not be a compulsion during the pandemic. A lot of employees have kids and elderly people in their families and it is insensitive of a company to make someone choose between family safety and livelihood.
Companies like TCS, have issued a notice, notifying it’s active personnel who are parents of kids under the age of 10 to adopt Work From Home ( WFH) module. It is a commendable initiative. Moreover our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has repeatedly appealed to the nation to stay at home. To not step out until and unless it is absolutely necessary.
The IT companies should come out of their capitalist approaches in such uncertain times and place the well beings of their employees as a priority to defeat this deadly virus that has compelled us to accept all the new-normals.
It is imperative that we become sensitive to other’s needs and accept the new possibilities that have opened in front of us.
Moreover, everyone out there is fighting a battle of their own and it takes nothing for such big firms to make the necessary amendments for the sake of those who are truly the soul of such companies.