Face-to-face with COVID-19

by U.B. Pravin Rao, Chief Operating Officer

In India and the world over, amidst the uncertainty of the evolving situation, we continue to tune in to briefings from public health officials, listen for guidance from local governments, and seek to do all that we can to cope with our changing lives and work. In times that test us, it’s natural to focus on what’s of utmost importance - and for us that has, and will always be, our employees and our clients.

We are doing all we can to be there for those employees and their families that need our support the most, while prioritizing the safety and wellbeing of our entire global workforce. We are monitoring the situation across countries and have prohibited or restricted business travel as appropriate. We are inviting medical professionals to inform and educate our workforce globally and implementing tightly regulated quarantining and contact tracing policies in compliance with local policymaker guidance. A 24-hour help desk supports employees in emergency and unfamiliar situations, while active communication channels keep us all – employees, clients, local authorities, health advisors, and our own leaders – connected and reliably well-informed.

Nearly 70% of our global workforce is now enabled to work from home leveraging collaboration technologies to stay connected with clients and colleagues. We believe we can scale this further in the days ahead. From mobilizing laptops for our workforce, desktop relocation to home environments, helping reimage personal devices for official use, with information security policies and the ability for us to minimize security risks, improving our virtual private network bandwidth and even facilitating high speed broadband connectivity at employee residences, we are accelerating overall employee readiness to be productive as they work remotely. We are also significantly and rapidly amplifying our technology landscape to support robust and secure remote collaboration at scale.

In the four decades of our operations, we’ve had occasion to fine-tune our plans for employee safety and business continuity, over several crisis situations, and that has taught us invaluable lessons. It is this handbook, shaped from our collective and shared experience, that is helping us navigate towards stability in the face of the unprecedented disruption triggered by COVID-19 globally.

We appreciate the urgent need of clients counting on us to drive business-critical functions for them, and not all these tasks can be executed from remote locations. Fully committing to our clients’ priorities, in the spirit of true partnership, we have prepared our workspaces and our teams to deliver by invoking detailed and account-specific business continuity plans. We are managing the recent lockdown-induced disruption to citizen mobility responsibly. The support that the government in India is extending to the IT industry, including granting exceptions from the lockdown, for key personnel delivering essential and mission-critical services to our clients, is going a long way in helping us be purposeful.  All of this is strengthening our ability to respond constructively to new challenges that emerge as the situation evolves. We are deeply conscious of the risk to some of our employees’ health that this brings and are taking every reasonable precaution - from recommission facilities, more rigorous cleaning routines to implementing social distancing best practices and maintaining readiness to evacuate - to make our workspaces safer.

For us doing the right things also means doing right by the communities in which we live and work. As we work to prioritize employee well-being and stabilize operations for our clients, we are also extending support to the ecosystems that nurture us. Infosys BPM, in association with NASSCOM, is working with the Government of Karnataka, to facilitate outreach to people in the State, returning from overseas travel, about self-quarantining practices and testing facilities. Infosys Foundation is partnering with the state government in Karnataka to help set up a medical facility to address the healthcare needs of citizens affected by the coronavirus. And, Infosys Foundation in the US is opening up its learning platform for teachers so that they can continue to school their students from home.

What has now ceased to surprise me is nearly every one of our business continuity review meetings with clients has someone sharing an anecdote of an employee who stepped up to solve a tough problem, went a stride further than expected, a manager who did more than answer the call of duty to support a vulnerable team-mate, or diffused a fragile situation with a creatively effective response. I can’t say we have it all figured. I can’t say we know precisely what will come next. But I can and want to say how proud I am of team Infosys for rising to meet the challenges of the situations anew every day, and how very grateful I am to our clients for being the incredibly understanding partners and strongly advocating champions for us that they are.

Hard as it all seems now, no doubt we’ll make it through to the brighter side together.