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Business Standard

Work-from-home policy a concern for BPO companies

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are concerned about security issues and investment demands from following the move by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to allow employees to work from home. Clients in the present environment are very strict about data confidentiality and privacy, BPO companies told Business Standard.

“Companies will have to segregate the process that can be accessed from home. You could mask certain processes, but this would work only with certain applications and require re-engineering tools. Besides, the company will have to make sure that screens are not being photographed or details such as the name, address or date of birth are not written down,” said , CTO, .

Technology experts are of the opinion that companies will have to take into account three things — network security, IT applications and the human aspect. Alok Shende, principal analyst, Accendia Consulting said enough high-end secure networks are already in place and companies can go in for further encryption to mitigate risks.

In terms of IT, they will need to take into account application security at multiple levels. Tools such as digital right management (DRM) can bring in the desired control in terms of taking print-outs or copying any data.

“Such a mechanism has worked in countries such as the UK. For companies, it would certainly cuts down the costs, especially the skyrocketing real estate expenses. The risk emanating from the human factor can’t stop, even in a controlled environment,” adds Shende.

Experts are of the view that while pure telemarketing processes can be serviced from home, agents will have to comply with the policy and provide the same experience to clients. “For instance, when a client calls, the user will have to make sure that there is no background sound,” said an industry expert.

“It’s a great move by the DoT. The implementation of this scheme will depend on the nature of the programme,” said , MD and Group CEO, .

The company will be partially implementing the at-home-agents scheme. It has clearly specified that sharing of credit cards and bank account numbers by the agents will go against client confidentiality and plans to put verification parameters in place.

, President and CEO, EXLService, however, said the access to clients' confidential information and insufficient controls outside office premises, could throw up significant issues. The other concern is the capex required for providing infrastructure such as PCs and connectivity.

“We can't implement this decision as it comes at a great cost to quality and security. It is not viable as the costs involved are huge. Moreover, technology is not mature enough for people to work from home,” according to S Nagarajan, founder and chief people officer, 24/7 Customer.

But not all are bogged down by these concerns. Som Mittal, president, Nasscom believes that working-from-home has been one of the longstanding demands of industry and will help in cutting costs and attracting more people.

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