Bengaluru: The Centre on Tuesday extended the relaxed connectivity norms for 'work from home', applicable to information technology (IT) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies, till July 31 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier, companies were not allowed to connect office Virtual Private Network (VPN) to their home infrastructure, but the rule was initially relaxed till April 30 in view of the lockdown.
In a meeting between Union Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Ravi Shankar Prasad and various state IT ministers, discussions were held on Tuesday on how to leverage technology in the best possible manner to help deal with the current situation.
"In response to IT Industry’s request to facilitate WFH for OSPs, @DoT_India had relaxed terms & conditions for VPN till 30.4.20. After discussions with IT Ministers this relaxation in terms & conditions is extended till 31.7.20," Prasad wrote on Twitter.
Karnataka IT minister Dr Ashwathnarayan C N, who also participated in the meeting, said that the state was going by what the Centre would prescribe. "This meeting had nothing to do with lockdown deadline as a temporary measure, we wanted to extend 'work from home' as it has been successful. Already, the MHA guidelines allow for up to 50 per cent of workforce, however, we have been strict in Karnataka and allowed only essential and critical services" the minister told CNN-News 18.
The minister further proposed that 'work from home' could be extended upon till March 31 2021, as was requested by many IT firms in the state. The union minister, however, assured that he would review the situation and take a call after discussing with IT companies after July.
The Union Minister also said that steps were being taken to strengthen the Bharat Net to provide better internet facilities as it could help extend digital education and health care services. "Not just the IT sector, all states should give importance to developing startups and promoting research. The focus will be on providing effective e-governance and e-passes," he said.
In tech city Bengaluru, bellwethers like Infosys have enabled 93 per cent of its workforce to work from home and only those performing critical functions are going to offices. TCS, on the other hand, has said that 75 per cent of its 3.5 lakh employees will be working from home even post lifting of the lock down.
Two weeks ago, in a meeting with IT honchos, Ashwathnarayan said, "The companies expressed concerns over handling the situation in case any employee is detected to have the infection. Companies have agreed to follow strict measures such as social distancing and screening facilities in their premises."
A comprehensive guideline in consultation with the department of health and family welfare is being prepared as companies start staggered operations within office premises. On Monday 120 employees of Wipro's Kochi campus resumed operations, however, adhering to all guidelines prescribed under the MHS guidelines.