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About 75% of industry workforce may continue to WFH: IT Secretary

The information technology (IT) industry may not get back to the old style of working from office and around 75% of the workforce may continue to work from outside office going ahead, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) Secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney said on Friday.

He said the IT industry showed resilience during the lockdown, with up to 97% of its workforce working from home or anywhere they found suitable to serve not just domestic but global clients also.

“We are very excited at what happened at that point of time (during lockdown). Now it is a fact, I can’t imagine going back to the old way of working and I am told by the industry as well, going back to the old ways of working is almost out of question.

“It is quite possible that 75% of the workforce will continue to work outside a formal office and yet be equally or more productive,” MrSawhney said at a Microsoft event.

The government on Thursday announced simplified guidelines for BPOs and ITES companies to reduce the compliance burden on them and to facilitate “Work From Home” and “Work From Anywhere” framework.

The new rules for Other Service Providers (OSPs) seek to create a friendly regime for “Work from Home” and “Work from Anywhere”, while removing frequent reporting obligations for such companies.

The move assumes significance as the industry had been asking for relaxations for “Work From Home” to continue on a permanent basis as the sector moves towards a blended working model in the post-COVID-19 era.

MrSawhney said the services being provided with the help of data centres helped everyone to work from outside office without any disruption.

“Before lockdown, at least half of my work was on physical files. It took us less than 48 hours to switch over seamlessly into a system where 100% of our work was digital. We started working from home, making use of video conferencing solutions,” Sawhney said.

Talking about the need for cyber security due to expansion of technology, MrSawhney said the government is providing market support for local development of products and applications in the segment.

Minister of State for Electronics and IT Sanjay Dhotre said ‘Digital India’ is a transformational mission of the government.

“Modern technologies have unprecedentedly expanded the horizons of our public services in all sectors of our economy. Today digital platforms, remote working, online education and other such intervention are no more an option but necessity after COVID-19,” MrDhotre said.

After developing various technology platforms, Meity is developing an artificial intelligence based natural language translation mission in collaboration with academic and research institutions, industry and start-ups, which will pave the way for voice-enabled internet in Indian languages, he added.
Microsoft India President AnantMaheshwari said his company’s team was stationed at data centres during the lockdown as it was notified as an essential service.

With the growth in technology, India’s digital transformation is driving demand for technology enabled jobs and skills across every industry and there is a need for reskilling and upskilling all of India’s workforce, even the technology workforce, he added. PTI

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