Return to office, not WFH, to save lives: Jayesh Ranjan
Hyderabad: Principal Secretary to the Telangana government for industries & commerce and information technology Jayesh Ranjan has always been a man on a mission, delivering on tasks and meeting goals set by the government. Now, he is focused on finding ways to get the lives of lakhs of people, unheard of and unsung, and at the bottom of the pyramid, back on stream.
In an interview with this newspaper, Jayesh Ranjan, talked about his call to IT employees to return to their offices, and how the IT sector could yet again emerge as the fulcrum on which lives of lakhs of people depended and how they could be turned around for the better.
Excerpts from the interview:
Why it is time for IT sector employees to return to offices:
A majority of IT employees working from home found the experience rewarding. No commutes, savings on fuel, transport costs, staying at home with families and home cooked food, all contributed to their well-being. There are many pluses on the WFH side. All I wanted to bring to the front is that employees could be looking at only half the picture.
The fact is that lakhs of invisible people, the cab driver, the security guard who opens the door, the maid who cleans the office, the guy serving food in the pantry and the guy who delivers mails or packages depend on functioning of IT offices. Very conservatively, Hyderabad has about six lakh people in the IT sector. At least, double that number is part of the support system. These 12 lakh people, with their families, total around 50 lakh. In short, six lakh people can have a positive, or a detrimental impact on the lives of 50 lakh, who are the end of their rope, is the bigger picture that is not being visualised. This 50 lakh is a very fragile section, they do not have too many savings to fall back upon, many of them have borrowed and are topped up, that is the reason for making this call.
Some are expressing fears of catching Covid:
We never made such a call during the first wave of Covid. Everyone was still figuring out how Covid behaved then and such a call could have been risky then. Now vaccination rates have gone up. In fact, among IT employees, practically all of them have been vaccinated, thanks to mega vaccination camps, companies taking the initiative, and Nasscom, Hyderabad Security Council and others stepping in. Most of that happened for the benefit of IT employees and their families.
Concerns of a possible third wave of Covid:
We are acutely aware that there could be a third wave, and even a fourth wave. But I am very confident about one thing, if at all a third wave happens, it will not happen in Telangana. It may start somewhere else. We have a very sophisticated Covid command and control centre, our surveillance systems are pretty strong now, we will be alerted if there is any sign of a third wave. We now have the ability to instantly kick in precautions.
We have opened up all sectors of the economy, the day the lockdown was lifted, everything was lifted. Despite everything being open, case incidence is actually going down, fatalities are also very few. Opening up everything has not caused any untoward concern.
The way forward:
What I want IT companies and employees to do is to take a matured and balanced look. IT companies write CSR cheques, taking part in social activities. This is also CSR, about caring about fellow human beings. That is the argument I am putting forward. It is left to their counsel, but I do expect the IT industry to understand the larger picture and that its leaders will show the way to the employees.
How possible work from offices appears:
We need to reach a tipping point, let us say 30 percent of people start coming to offices, it will be very easy to motivate the remaining 70 percent, if only 5 percent come, then that will be difficult. To get to the tipping point, we need the CEOs, CXOs, and IT bosses to set the example. So, if that tipping point is reached, if the top bosses come to work, then hundreds will start going to work, that is what I believe.