IT firms resort to work-from-home amid Bengaluru rain fury

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BENGALURU: India’s best-known IT firms and startups have asked staff to work from home as torrential rains brought chaos to the streets of the technology hub, marooning roads and snapping water and electricity supplies.
While parts of the city that houses several global companies and home-grown startups, were underwater, operations in IT firms and startups were largely unaffected as most of them had power backup and a hybrid work environment where some employees logged in from home.
But some of the posh housing colonies were flooded and tractors were pressed into service to rescue residents.
However, technology companies engaged in research and development faced challenges in accessing labs that have adversely impacted their global workflow.
A senior official of a Germany-based technology company, which has offices in Bengaluru, said that most of the work is being continued in a hybrid environment but the problem is in accessing research labs.
Residents in Bengaluru, who ordered groceries and food items on apps, found that either orders for some locations were not being accepted at all, or delivery timelines stretched to over an hour even for those apps that otherwise promise quick delivery on regular days.
Swiggy Instamart Head Karthik Gurumurthy tweeted that rains have impacted certain areas like Sarjapur, Marathahalli, and Bellandur badly.
“We are working with our sellers to serve as many orders as possible today. Count on us…Your orders may be delayed but we will deliver,” he said.
As rains disrupted traffic and threw lives out of gear, footage of IT workers travelling in tractors to reach the workplace amid heavy waterlogging in the city also surfaced on social media platforms.
“All our associates at Bengaluru are safe. We are closely monitoring the situation and our delivery teams have been advised to exercise due caution,” a spokesperson of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) said.
It, however, did not give the number of employees reaching the office and those logged in from home.
Indian IT major Wipro advised its employees to work from home on Tuesday and said business continuity plans have been invoked.
“Due to heavy rainfall in Bengaluru, Wipro has advised its employees to work from home today. Business Continuity Plans have been invoked and there has been no disruption to business,” Wipro said in response to an e-mail query by PTI.
Many parts of the rain-battered city on Tuesday saw a repeat of scenes witnessed on Monday — inundated roads and streets, tractors ploughing through flooded localities ferrying people, submerged vehicles and more overnight rains.
E-commerce firm Flipkart said it has been closely monitoring the situation and all its corporate employees have been advised to continue to work from home.
“We are taking steps to support any employees and families affected by rains. For first-hand information, we send a regular advisory to our employees, with helpline numbers to reach for any emergency,” a Flipkart spokesperson said.
The Walmart group firm further said that it is “continuing to serve” customers.
“For our delivery staff and hubs in affected areas, we have maintained a helpline number and there are SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) in place for their safety, including security training, SOS Awareness, Loss Prevention Awareness, and response protocols etc,” the Flipkart spokesperson said.
Some professionals on social media platforms blamed encroachment, especially around lakes and illegal constructions, in the city as one of the reasons for heavy flooding.
Dramatic footage of the rescue, flooded roads and residences, and submerged cars circulated on social media platforms throughout the day.
“Things are bad. Please take care,” Gaurav Munjal, founder of the Softbank-backed education technology firm Unacademy said on Twitter after his family and dog were rescued by a tractor.
Rituparna Mandal, General Manager at MediaTek, Bengaluru, said the firm is taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety of the teams during the flood situation.
“We have issued guidelines to ensure minimum disruption to work and have advised employees to work from home till the situation improves,” Mandal said.
MediaTek has approximately 800 employees in India but it did not share the Bengaluru breakup.
Meesho’s spokesperson said the startup announced a first-of-its-kind ‘Boundaryless Workplace Model’ this year in February, which gives employees the power to choose to work from home, office or any location of their choice.
“The flexibility of the policy enables employees to choose a location based on their convenience, thereby breaking the traditional workplace dynamics of compulsory attendance to office.
“The ‘work from anywhere model has played an important role in the current situation in Bengaluru when daily commute has been hugely disrupted in the wake of the incessant rains,” the spokesperson said.
Decentralisation of the workplace has therefore been instrumental in ensuring that neither employees nor “our operations are adversely impacted by the rains,” the spokesperson said.
“Additionally, we have satellite offices in major metro cities that offer employees further options to choose their preferred work location. Driven by our people-first mindset, we will continue to take forward-looking and industry-defining policies that are vested in the best interests of employees,” Meesho’s spokesperson added.

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