"On the one hand there are network connectivity issues, and on the other hand we are expected to do more work. The work timings have extended to 12 hours," says a senior process analyst at a well known Information Technology firm who has been working from home during the pandemic. His native is around 140 km from Hyderabad where his company is based.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many sectors, millions have lost jobs and have been forced to change the way they work. Almost all companies in Hyderabad have given the 'work from home' option to their employees in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. However, this is proving to be challenging for many employees.
TNM spoke with several Information Technology (IT) and software professionals who are currently working from home in small towns and rural areas of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to understand the situation.
While companies have given them systems which are preloaded with designated sets of software and tools to function, for most professionals, especially in remote areas, poor network connectivity is creating woes. For these employees who used to stay in Hyderabad and work in the city's IT hub, the internet problems seem to have replaced their metro city traffic woes.
Abhinay, a software engineer from Mahabubnagar rural said, "We don't even have BSNL telephone services in certain parts, a few like me are managing with 4G hotspots."
He feels that the lack of network connectivity is a result of private playersâ€™ disinterest in rural areas. While some companies provided Internet dongles, some have asked the employees to use convenient ones and get refunded.
Power cuts are another concern in some parts.
Some however are happy with the situation. Manideep, a software employee from a small town in Karimnagar district in Telangana said that he doesn't have issues of connectivity, in fact work from home is keeping him happy. Srikanth of Siricilla said, "Now things are going smoothly. Initially we had lots of doubts about collaboration, but we adapted quickly."
He added, "When I worked from home in Hyderabad, there was a fear in my mind over contracting COVID-19, and I was unable to give my 100%. But after I shifted to my hometown the fear factor is less.â€ť
Several professionals said that they felt working from home actually gave them a rare chance to be around family members. Seniors from managerial positions also feel that work from home is productive to some extent.
Few have said that they were concerned and paranoid about job security given the uncertainty that resulted due to pandemic. Mahendar, a security engineer in a Hyderabad firm, is working from home in a village in Medak. He said, "We were all paranoid initially, earlier we all used to work in teams in limited work hours, but now we are texting or calling them for any collaboration."
Given much of their phone data pack is utilised for work, many said that their use of Netflix and Amazon Prime has been reduced.
A Senior Consultant (Software Programmer) Muhammad Mumin felt that there is need for organisations and individuals to adopt sustainable models. Stating that a software giant's reported decision to make 75% of its workforce WFH in the coming years Mumin said "It must push one and all to think towards sustainable modes of business operations, decentralization of business centres and more importantly employee friendly policies."
Pradeep Gadicherla, an operations head in a Hyderabad based software giant whose operations spread across other metros in the country said, "A good part of work from home is employees are with their family, that shows positive impact on productivity. But there are disruptions. Also, unlike earlier now have to do a lot more meetings, which are exceeding work hours."