New Delhi: An overwhelming majority of employees who started working from home (WFH) immediately after Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdowns would like to continue WFH, as confidence in public transport has not been restored even as almost all the states have opened it, an ASSOCHAM-Primus Partners survey has pointed out.
Another key pointer from the survey conducted across Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad in the different age groups of employees was that a vast majority of those who need to commute to work places would prefer their private vehicles, be it passenger cars or motor bikes. “Post lockdown, we see that people would prefer some amount of work from home to continue, with 74 per cent favouring it,” the survey done by ASSOCHAM in collaboration with the consulting firm Primus Partners noted.
It said companies have also seen the benefit in letting employees to WFH, as it becomes location agnostic, allowing reduction in operational costs, including rentals of the office premises.
The chamber’s secretary general, Mr Deepak Sood said, “New normal is unfolding across different aspects of doing business – from production process to delivery of products and services. Technology has enabled the WFH a feasible proposition. While it is early days to assess how exactly things would pan out, remote working has its own opportunities and even challenges. We need to adjust fast to this paradigm.”
For instance, the survey cited an example of an IT firm which has 112 new recruits from Tier II cities like Indore, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Vijayawada, Chandigarh, Patna and Nashik. All the new recruits would follow the WFM model, opening new opportunities for Tier II cities and reducing the civic load on mega cities.
As for public transport which has largely now been opened, the survey found that 73 per cent of the respondents would prefer to use their own vehicles (either 2-wheeler or 4-wheeler). Only 21 per cent are looking at continuing to use public transport. Rise in sales of passenger cars, with 1,97,523 units being recorded in July 2020, is seen in that context.
However, the trend has a flip side to it. Increased usage of private vehicles would lead to congestion and choke up the cities. Corporates and the government agencies need to work together with the employees to find workable solutions. Corporates can look at staggered working hours so that everyone doesn’t have to report to the office at the same time.
The study recommended that the governments should consider urban design changes, which promote pedestrianizing and the use of non-motorized transport. “This can significantly decongest cities and would be beneficial not just now, but also in the long run.”
Public transport agencies need to look at various means to make travel safer for commuters. They must ensure that all frontline employees – drivers, conductors-wear safety gears (masks, gloves, face shields) at all times. Use of touch-free sanitizers and contact-less washbasins with soap dispensers at offices, railway and metro stations and bus depots must be made compulsory.
Other measures should include disinfecting the vehicle after every ride, strict adherence to mask wearing by passengers and other engineering and design solutions.
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