The relaxation in rules to facilitate 'Work From Anywhere' for the Indian IT-BPM sector is "long term, progressive thinking" by the government and will help create a more inclusive workforce, according to industry executives.
On Thursday, the government announced simplified guidelines for Other Service Providers (OSPs), including BPOs and ITES companies, to reduce the compliance burden on them and to facilitate 'Work From Home' and 'Work From Anywhere' framework.
Industry body Ficci said this step will help the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) industry deliver essential services remotely, and help promote new job opportunities, encourage innovation ecosystem, and support the development of an inclusive and diverse workforce.
"This is a landmark decision. It will go a long way in fostering the growth of IT/ITES/BPO industry... Yet another decisive reform on ease of doing business and creating Aatmanirbhar Bharat," Ficci President Sangita Reddy said.
OSPs are entities providing applications services, IT Enabled Services or any kind of outsourcing services using telecom resources. The term refers to Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) or Business Process Management (BPM), Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPOs), IT Enabled Services (ITES) players, call centres, amongst others.
The detailed guidelines issued by the telecom department on Thursday said the concept of 'Work From Home' will be encouraged and that "work from home has been extended to provide Work-From-Anywhere in India".
This facility of extended agent/ remote agent position (that is 'Work From Home/Anywhere') is permitted with certain conditions. The agents at home shall be treated as 'remote agents' of the OSP Centre and interconnection is permitted.
While the remote agent is allowed to work from any place within India, the OSP shall be responsible for any violation related to toll-bypass, it said.
"It helps the tech sector immensely, while enhancing sustainability, reducing carbon foot print and paving way for a more inclusive workforce. This policy will also spur more innovation in our industry, that is in the forefront of digital transformation of the global enterprises," HCL Technologies President and CEO C Vijayakumar said.
Over the past few months, the government has taken various measures to facilitate work from home. It had earlier extended connectivity norms for remote working in IT and BPO companies till December 31.
On Thursday, the government in its release also said several requirements which prevented companies from adopting 'Work from Home' and 'Work from Anywhere' policies have now been removed while additional dispensations to enhance flexibility for the industry have been allowed.
Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji, in a tweet, said, "This is truly long term, progressive thinking by the government which will make our technology industry that much more competitive. Working from anywhere has become the new reality and thank you for seeing this".
Tech Mahindra Managing Director and CEO C P Gurnani said enabling work from anywhere was a much-needed reform for the IT industry.
"This 'new normal' will not only allow greater flexibility & agility but will also boost productivity and tech innovation," he said in a tweet.
Genpact CEO N V Tyagarajan lauded the government's focus on ease of doing business "in these times and making India a tech hub is incredibly timely and will benefit India, its citizens and the world!".
WNS Group CEO Keshav Murugesh tweeted that this "brilliant step" will catapult Indian IT and BPM to the next level of growth, global impact, job creation and development of small towns and cities in tier III and IV locations.
Nasscom Senior Director and Public Policy Head Ashish Aggarwal said India is a global outsourcing hub and the new guidelines will promote outsourcing at scale, bringing in more work to India.
"With the relaxations in WFH (Work From Home) regulations, companies will be able to tap into talent from small towns and remote parts of the country," Aggarwal said, adding that the new guidelines offer further clarity and will bring in ease of doing business.
Nasscom had stated that access to remote working will give the Indian IT industry an epic boost and significantly expand access to talent, increase job creation, catapult Indian IT-BPM sector to the next level of growth and innovation, thereby making India a global tech hub.
Several startups also welcomed the development. Staqu co-founder and CEO Atul Rai said most of the employees in the IT sector are not from metro cities and were residing in locations like NCR, Bengaluru and Hyderabad for work.
"This new working style has removed the barrier where people were struggling in between their ambitions and social lives as anyone can work from any place. Though for Indian ecosystem it's new but soon we will learn to adapt to it. We are looking forward to working from home in the near future as well," he added.
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