Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary to the Telangana state government said it is crucial for IT employees to return to office as thousands of jobs are dependent on them.

A representative image of IT employees in an officeImage Courtesy: Picxy/Dreamworks
news IT Industry Tuesday, July 27, 2021 - 17:09

A Telangana Principal Secretary has sparked a debate by saying that it is extremely insensitive and very unfortunate that IT employees don’t want to come back to offices. Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary to the Telangana government, handles the Industries & Commerce and Information Technology departments. He made the statement in reply to a question by media personnel about employees refusing to head back to offices ever since the pandemic-induced work from home culture began.

Replying to the question, Jayesh Ranjan said that thousands of people who work in the IT industry as taxi drivers, vendors, in facilities management among others depend on the jobs for their livelihood and are facing difficulties. He made the statement on Sunday while interacting with the media immediately after the inauguration of a 50-bed ICU ward at Osmania General Hospital, set up by Cognizant in partnership with Round Table India Trust.

“It is extremely insensitive for IT employees to refuse to come back to offices.  We can understand when they refused during the peak period of the pandemic. Now the risk is minimised and is much less, still, they don’t want to join back and this is not fair. All I can say about it is, it is very insensitive and very unfortunate,” the Principal Secretary said.

Reacting to the Principal Secretary’s comment, Kiran Chandra, President of the Forum for IT Professionals said, “We have been asking the government and IT companies to redesign the workspaces. Workspaces are presently closed environments and there is often no cross-ventilation. There is no guarantee that even if we are fully vaccinated that we will not get COVID-19. Unlike other industries, the IT sector will be very vulnerable if they start heading back to offices because of the chance of rapid spread of the virus.”

“The entire industry would love to come back, we also want to meet our friends, colleagues and we also want to work from one place, but definitely not at the cost of the lives of individuals. It is also important that the government sets up testing facilities at IT offices so that those unwell can immediately be tested in order to avoid a spread of the virus,” added Kiran.

The Forum for IT Professionals felt that if these two criteria are fulfilled, they would be happy to head back to offices. However, the forum felt that despite the government being in a position to bring out a circular making it compulsory for IT companies to redesign workplaces, for the safety of employees, they haven’t done that as yet.

“It isn’t the IT employees who are insensitive, the Principal Secretary’s argument is what is insensitive. Even in the past as well he has made such remarks about IT employees. Such kind of insensitivity needs to stop right from the top. If one person contracts COVID-19, the entire team will go down and this can impact the entire project. It is not in the interest of the IT industry that such statements are made. If he really cares about the IT industry, redesigning of workspaces needs to be done on priority,” added Kiran Chandra.

According to the forum, Hyderabad has around 5.25 lakh IT employees, and the majority of them continue to choose to work from home because of the fear of contracting COVID-19.

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