Walking a thin line between public safety and reviving the economy, the PM’s address of Lockdown 4.0 came with a set of relaxations. The world that we now enter will have new rules of safety with social distancing at the crux of guidelines. These relaxations come as a relief for the business sector as they are set to re-open again with only a certain percentage of their staff.
While government organisations were already working, the manufacturing and construction sector has breathed a sigh of relief and reopened factories for the first time since the lockdown. Small vendors, too, have begun their services as well to make up for low cash flow during the lockdown.
A mindful IT sector: Half the workforce and technology tools
The technology sector has seen a major push since people had no choice but to adapt to digital tools for essential services. With messaging platforms and video conferencing tools, there have been many new innovations coming from companies like Microsoft. However, the IT sector comes with the advantage of remote working since an internet connection and laptop are all their employees need. While the government directives allow offices to resume, a lot of employees are hoping to work from home. Adding to this, the top management is being very cautious about their re-opening strategy.
When asked about how they plan to resume operations, Microsoft’s spokesperson said, “The health and safety of our employees is our top priority at Microsoft. We are providing real-time guidance to employees as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve in India. At this time, only a small number of employees who perform essential services continue to be on-site at our offices. We will continue to monitor the situation and take necessary action to help protect employees.”
Micron Technology, computer memory and computer data storage producer, also shared that they are monitoring the situation globally and prioritizing the health and safety of their teams. They are planning to take a phased approach to having team members return to work on-site over time. The exact timing for team members to return to offices remains uncertain and will vary by location, job role and business needs.
“Meanwhile, we will continue to enforce the strong preventive measures we implemented at our sites from the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, and deploy new protocols as needed, to maximize safety. These include putting health screenings in place, requiring social distancing, establishing team separation protocols at all our sites, prohibiting visitors, suspending business travel, and requiring teams to wear masks at Micron sites. We continue to monitor our operations to ensure we safeguard our 37,000 team members in 18 countries, while continuing operations at all our sites across the globe,” says Anand Ramamoorthy, Country Managing Director, Micron Technology, India.
On similar lines of beginning operations in a phased manner, Nachiket Deshpande, COO and Executive Board Member, LTI gives insight on how they plan to re-open, “For our employees in India, we have launched our own LTI iCare app which is leveraging our Mosaic data-to-decisions platform to prevent accidental congregation and ensure social distancing in office. It is also linked to the Arogya Setu app to enable contact tracing in a GDPR-compliant way. Several other changes have been made to our campuses to ensure employee safety – these include frequent and deep cleaning of facilities, thermal-scanners, staggered shifts, reduced capacity with multiples shifts in canteens and cafeterias, dispersed seating plans, transportation, safety in elevators and an incident management framework.”
A new dawn for Ecommerce and cab aggregators
Another sector that saw a major boom during the lockdown was E-commerce. While the delivery of non-essential items had to refrain, people relied on the same websites for their essentials. Online food delivery giants like Swiggy and Zomato tweaked their services to deliver essential items instead of joining Dunzo’s market of delivery services. Now that non-essential deliveries have been permitted, E-commerce giants Flipkart and Amazon would be resuming services.
“We welcome the efforts by the governments at the Center and States in progressively charting out a lockdown exit plan and allowing e-commerce to serve the consumers with their varied product needs in all the classified zones, except containment zones,” said a Flipkart spokesperson. “As a marketplace e-commerce player, we believe that the new guidelines also allow us to boost the MSME community and help them to restore their businesses faster and support livelihood in the country,” he further added. Flipkart points out the critical role of their supply chain team that is helping consumers with their requirements while maintaining social distancing, and hence, encouraging them to stay indoors.
On the mobility front, Ola and Uber have already resumed regular services in some parts of the country. Self-drive car rental company, Zoomcar, was actively helping out with its services for emergencies during the lockdown. With the lockdown being lifted soon, the future of cab services looks promising.
“We expect to see a significant spike in demand for personal mobility post lockdown and are preparing for a 4 to 5 X hike in demand in the coming months. There is an exponential spike in demand expected for car subscriptions as well. Especially considering the current recession, car subscriptions can prove to be a better option as a more affordable and quicker way of acquiring a car, delivering a safe personal mobility replacement,” says Greg Moran, CEO and Co-founder, Zoomcar.
He also highlights how Zoomcar will be leveraging technologies such as AI and IoT to resume services. “We also have a keyless entry which minimizes human contact and curb transmission of the virus. Every car is also thoroughly sanitized before and after each drive. With deep-rooted technology models, Zoomcar has tweaked its mobile app to allow customers to reach out at any time in case of a query through emails, messages, and chatbots. By prioritizing safety, hygiene, and customer experience with technology at the core, Zoomcar is looking to make its cars future-ready and COVID-19 safe,” explains Greg Moran.
A slow but steady revival of the economy…
The world is battered yet not broken by the COVID-19 outbreak that continues to affect more and more people. They are yet to find a treatment for this virus and while that is in progress, a lockdown would only work until a certain time. Economies are opening up again and companies are now being more protective of their staff by debating how long they could continue remote working. A pandemic is on every business owner’s mind.