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Coronavirus outbreak: Productivity, educational apps come to the rescue

Technology firms and start-ups are making the most of available resources to ensure employees are connected and productive while they work from home

Neha Alawadhi & Peerzada Abrar  |  New Delhi| Bengaluru 

Coronavirus outbreak: Productivity, educational apps come to the rescue

As more and more businesses allow employees to work from home, productivity, education and gaming apps have seen an increase in downloads in India this week. According to data sourced from mobile analytics and intelligence firm Sensor Tower, early trends show an increase in the download numbers for Microsoft Teams, video conferencing platform Zoom, and Google Hangouts Meet.

Technology firms and start-ups are making the most of available resources to ensure employees are connected and productive while they work from home. E-commerce firm Flipkart had asked staff at Bengaluru to work offsite. The firm is promoting the use of video conferences for meetings, including job interviews, and are temporarily avoiding events and training programmes that require large gatherings.

“In fact, Kalyan (Krishnamurthy, CEO, Flipkart Group) himself comes on Google Hangouts couple of times a day to take stock of the situation and things like pricing, supply, technology, and wellbeing of the employees,” said a person aware of the working situation at present. The company is also checking system preparedness for working remotely using digital and video tools, according to people familiar with the matter.

Technology services firms are using both in-house and third-party applications. While a company-wide work from home policy is a challenge for IT services firms, several teams have been asked to work from home. "Teams working from home are in touch with each other through virtual platforms such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, apart from usual communication channels of mails and calls," said a HCL Technologies spokesperson.

Wipro is also using its virtual collaboration capabilities, video conferencing and messaging platforms to ensure managers are in touch with their teams.

At Walmart-owned digital payments firm PhonePe, employees are accessing the company servers remotely using through the virtual private network. “Most of the work-related stuff is shared on Google Drive and Zoom, Skype and Hangouts calls are becoming common,” said an employee.

Payments firm Paytm is also encouraging employees to maximize the use of technology using tools like Ding Talk, Google Hangouts, and video conferencing to collaborate virtually for meetings.


"At this stage and given it is the initial phase of us offering work from home, our intent has been primarily to offer a preventive & precautionary measure for our employees’ health and safety. If we are continuing this for long, we would be ensuring that our employees stay engaged and motivated even while working from home," a spokesperson said.

Coronavirus outbreak: Productivity, educational apps come to the rescue

Kavin Bharti Mittal-led messaging platform Hike has also encouraged everyone to work from home. It has introduced ‘core hours’ from 10.30 am to 6 pm. During this period, employees are expected to be plugged in and available on Slack and available to attend DSM (daily scrum meetings), and sprints on Google Meet. Hike also said Google Meet and Slack would be the company’s backbone to deliver uninterrupted remote work for all employees till the time the pandemic subsides.

OYO, which also uses a mix of Google Meets, Zoom, and Slack to get work done, is encouraging employees to fill a health-check form sent on a daily basis to keep the organisation apprised of their health conditions, if any.

HackerEarth, a platform that helps organisations to accurately assess candidates for their skills by conducting automated online assessments, said that from an interview and hiring point of view, it is using Facecode, its in-house live video interviewing tool. For internal collaboration, it uses Slack, Google Hangout and GSuite for emails and Zoom has been the company's preference for larger group meetings. It also uses GoToWebinar for its townhalls.

In education, app downloads rose for Byju's, Unacademy, and Connects Q&A-Homework Help, an app that was launched in February. Gaming downloads also increased, but it may be too soon to call a coronavirus-specific trend.

First Published: Thu, March 19 2020. 23:55 IST
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