As the coronavirus pandemic pushes India into a lockdown, the call centers and IT services firms that function as the world's back office are struggling to piece together work-from-home solutions and other business-continuity plans.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday ordered 1.3 billion Indians to stay at home for 21 days to stem the spread of SARS-CoV-2, following earlier lockdown orders in many Indian cities and states. As of Tuesday, India had reported over 500 cases of the virus and nine deaths.
An employee of French tele-services provider Teleperformance on the outskirts of Delhi said his company had been reluctant to let staff work from home. But he said employees were finally told Sunday the company would begin installing corporate desktop computers at their homes after a wider lockdown in several cities.
JPMorgan and Teleperformace did not respond to requests for comment.
Some have been able to make a temporary and quick transition to the work-from-home scenario.
Qualcomm Inc, the world's biggest supplier of "modem" chips that connect mobile phones and other devices to wireless data networks, said about 90 percent of its workforce in India was able log in to work-from-home since the lockdown started in the country.
"I can tell you that in the last 24hrs 90 percent of Qualcomm's workforce in India logged in, indicating that our employees have been pivoted well to working from home", a Qualcomm spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.
India's home ministry, in guidelines issued on Tuesday, advised states to exempt essential IT and IT-enabled services from the national lockdown. NASSCOM, the lobbying group, said several states had listed IT and e-commerce among essential services that are exempt.