Covid impact: Kerala considering work-near-home facilities for IT firms

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Published: June 16, 2020 12:30 AM

The idea is to provide office arrangements within the neighbourhood of employees, so that office work flows can be maximized with minimum risk to the employee's health.

In the first phase, 100 co-working spaces of at least 5,000 sq ft will be set up within cities and towns. In the first phase, 100 co-working spaces of at least 5,000 sq ft will be set up within cities and towns.

The Kerala government is considering setting up work-near-home (WNH) facilities for companies, mainly IT firms. Unoccupied buildings, hotel rooms and houseboats, idling due to the lull in tourism, would be used as co-working spaces near the employee’s home.

“Work-near-home facility for employees could be a solution for issues like poor internet connectivity and power failure that IT firms that have staff on the work-from-home arrangement are facing,” said PM Sasi, CEO of Kerala government-owned IT parks. Besides WNH, K-Fon, the state’s high speed internet project, is expected to go live by December, he told FE.

In the first phase, 100 co-working spaces of at least 5,000 sq ft will be set up within cities and towns. The idea is to provide office arrangements within the neighbourhood of employees, so that office work flows can be maximized with minimum risk to the employee’s health.

In the second phase, resorts and houseboats will be harnessed to be converted as WNH spaces. A survey has been conducted to get ideas from the IT industry and several firms have evinced keenness as the co-working space could also discount rent overheads.

A GTech (an outfit of heads of IT and ITeS firms in Kerala) study said post-Covid uncertainties could trim Kerala’s IT revenues by about Rs 4,500 crore by end of 2020. It estimates that the state IT industry could witness loss of 26,000 direct and 80,000 indirect jobs.

“Once the COVID-19 situation starts to ease and businesses resume, our primary markets of the US, Europe and the GCC will look to a significantly higher order of outsourcing to India,” says Alexander Varghese, GTech chairman and COO of UST Global. Worse-hit would be IT SMEs, which account for 45% of Kerala’s IT revenues, he said. Such small players could benefit from the WNH umbrella.

“The WNH facility is slated to be live from October. Tenders to acquire buildings as co-working spaces will begin from next fortnight,” said M Sivasankar, principal secretary at the state’s IT department.

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