Work from home (WFH) — a strategy adopted by multinational companies to combat the spread of novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) — may well become the new normal as companies have faced success with its adoption.
With the physical world on hold and the digital world being busier than before, companies are now turning adversity into advantage. This period will serve as a reckoning for remote work and may help to spur on digital transformation.
“Around 25-35 per cent of the shift (to remote working) is irreversible. There will be more videoconferencing as opposed to work-related travel in the future,” said Anand Agarwal, group chief executive officer and whole-time director, Sterlite Technologies.
He said demand, which has seen a surge of late, is expected to continue and hence, requires strengthening of the fibre network.
Agarwal said companies are planning to advance their capital expenditure towards servicing the increased internet demand by investing in network strengthening.
Almost every technology-driven task that can be done remotely is being done from a remote location.
“Health and safety of our employees is our primary concern. We are working remotely to ensure that,” said Pradeep Kotnala, head of managed services-Southeast Asia, Oceania, and India at Ericsson.
The company had started preparing for the surge in demand due to WFH before the lockdown was announced on March 24.
“For us the acid test was New Year’s Eve when we looked at the network performance and made sure no congestion issues were there on December 31. This time around, we know how to tackle the sharp surge in demand,” said Kotnala.
The country’s leading telecom service provider Bharti Airtel was also faced with the challenge of catering to the spike in demand after the announcement of a nationwide lockdown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The traffic demand spread over the whole day in the case of urban inhabitants. With the migration of people to their native places, the internet demand got distributed to tier-II cities and rural India,” said Randeep Sekhon, chief technology officer, Airtel.
Not just mobile internet, fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) internet services, too, have seen a surge these past few weeks.
While some experts said service providers are facing the heat because fibre imports have been affected due to the pandemic, Airtel says it has no such issues.
“We source our fibre locally, therefore, no problem. As far as FTTH demand is concerned, it will go up even after the lockdown is lifted,” said Sekhon, who is the company’s single point of contact in this crisis.
On March 23, Airtel had asked Vodafone Idea, Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharat Sanchar Nigam, and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam to join hands and pave the way for intra-circle roaming pacts to ensure uninterrupted mobile and wireless internet services amid surge in data consumption due to near lockdown in the country to battle Covid-19, forcing people to WFH to contain the spread of the contagion.
In a letter to all companies, Airtel said the world was witnessing an unprecedented situation and all efforts were being made on the ground by the government to combat the disease.