Both IT and non-IT companies will be sharing this space and in the future, government employees can also make use of such a facility.

People work wearing masks at a co-working space
news Technology Monday, June 15, 2020 - 19:09

Last Thursday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan spoke of the idea of ‘Work Near Home’ for people to be able to work at a nearby facility while the state is still at risk of the COVID-19 pandemic.   

The idea came from the Information Technology (IT) parks in the state, but it will be implemented for the non-IT sectors as well. 

“When the pandemic broke out and Kerala went into lockdown, we, like the rest of the world, resorted to working from home. In the first month, it worked out pretty well and the productivity too proved good. Subsequently, however, there was a dip in productivity and the morale of the employees also seemed to be lesser. In addition, there were the issues of electricity and internet connections getting broken,” says Technopark Chief Executive Officer Sasi Pilacheri Meethal.

That’s how the idea was propagated to have facilities near home for employees to work from. These will be buildings that will allow a co-working space so that employees of multiple companies can work together. “In the initial stage, we are planning to implement it in 100 towns across the state, with 5,000 square feet of such co-working spaces in each town. There are 87 municipalities and six corporations in Kerala. Added to that, seven more towns will have the facility,” Sasi says.

The way Kerala had managed to keep the pandemic under check in its early stages appears to have impressed investors in other parts of the world, Sasi says. 

“There have been enquiries by people wanting to start new businesses here, and others who wish to invest. Also, people from the state who had migrated to other states and countries for work, have begun expressing an interest to come back and work in Kerala. Some of the companies did a survey and found this to be true. A couple of years ago, when such a survey was conducted, very few had shown interest in coming back.”

It is not difficult to find such facilities for ‘work near home’, given the number of unused or abandoned buildings across the state. 

Hotels, tourist places, engineering colleges on the verge of closing down have approached the team at Technopark, proposing they start something there. 

“It is as an afterthought that such a scheme came up. It will be a joint venture, of the IT parks and the building owners, with the investment coming from the latter. The interiors will be designed by the Institute of Indian Interior Designers. A Standard Operating Procedure is also being put in place. While it is a co-working space, a single company can reserve a whole compartment or multiple seats together.”

It will be digitised and the access and surveillance will be centrally controlled. The local facility management will be done by the building owner. Both IT and non-IT companies will be sharing space and in the future, government employees also can make use of such a facility, says Sasi.

A survey is also being conducted among the employees to understand their interest in such a scheme. So far, 95% of the employees are in favour of a mix of work near home and work from home facilities. The survey is available here.

Also read: How tech vs traditional workplaces are handling work from home

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