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Kerala's IT sector staff log in from home amid lockdown


Thiruvananthapuram: With the 21-day nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus scare having entered the second week, most IT companies in Kerala are rolling forward and appear to be running smoothly on the now-popular work-from-home concept.

A manager of a leading IT company said on the condition of anonymity that 99 per cent of the staff in his team are working smoothly from home.

"In the IT world, every cost incurred by a company is billed to one or the other department. My team has incurred a cost of $6,000 for putting on track the work-from- home concept. And this cost has been recovered as we have practically not lost on man hours on account of the lockdown. With connectivity not a major issue in our state, this will go on smoothly," said the official.

Another official pointed out that work-from-home idea works good for most companies but not for those companies where a high level of data security has to be maintained.

Another IT official said the pinch has started to be felt as their clients are in US and UK, where Covid-19 is raging. With things appearing not that bright, they have to get new clients, which at the moment is farfetched possibility.

"We are now keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the best," said the official who did not wish to be identified.

The only complaint from work from home is that techies are unable to gather, which they do at least three to four times a day when in office to to go out for tea, lunch or dinner. Tey are otherwise happy, as when in office, social media is banned, but being at home, they are having a ball.

However, G. Vijayaraghavan, credited for setting the ball rolling in the IT domain by virtue of being the first CEO of Technopark, has a word of caution.

He said that most major analysts have already said that we are in for a major recession probably worse than in 2001.

"In the next few weeks companies will start feeling the pain. This will go on for at least three months. Then there could be slight changes, but it will take at least a year, if not more, to see a positive recovery. The industry will survive, but there will be pain for at least the next 12 months. Those who are careful and plan well will survive. Many who don't will fail, leading to huge job losses," said Vijayaraghavan.

Though it was Kerala, which set up the first full-fledged IT park -- Technopark -- in the country in the state capital in the mid 90s, other neighbouring states have since moved ahead in terms of software exports.

As on date, the total IT software exports from Kerala is pegged at around Rs 20,000 crore from the parks in Thiruvananathapuram, Kochi, and Kozhikode, besides small IT firms and start-ups across the state.

The total direct employment in the state IT sector is around 1.10 lakh.

The slow growth in Kerala IT exports is attributed to the fact that though giant companies like Infosys, Wipro, TCS do operate from here, none exactly knows if their total revenues generated from the state are booked to Kerala's software export figures.

However, it's homegrown companies like UST Global, IBS, and a few others which employ around 25 per cent of the total IT workforce that keep the state's flag flying high. The question now is what's in store for Kerala IT sector after the lockdown ends.

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