Kolkata: Telecom industry players are in no hurry to bring back their employees to offices, with the likes of Bharti Airtel reopening its offices but capping its workforce inside company premises at 33% on safety grounds even as Covid19 cases continue to mount across India.

Bharti Airtel has reopened all its offices though it’s open to staff working from home on health and safety grounds and is also ensuring strict social distancing protocols inside office premises. Reliance Jio though is likely to maintain around 15% staff at major circle offices, and take a call on bringing back more people, post-June 8.

“Starting this week, Airtel has opened all its offices as per guidelines from relevant authorities, (though) employee strength across all offices is strictly capped to maintain social distancing,” a company spokesperson told ET. He added that “coming to office is voluntary and all Airtel employees could continue to work from home, even while stringent sanitation measures have been put in place across the telco’s offices.

A senior company executive said the size of Airtel staff inside company premises has been capped at one-third, or 33%, adding that the telco would closely follow Covid19-related guidelines issued by states.

Reliance Jio though is maintaining status quo on staff deployments inside its offices as per the just ended lockdown 4.0 levels, by continuing to deploy around 15% staff to offices in key functions such as networks, sales & marketing, finance, HR and admin, a person with direct knowledge said.

Telecom tower companies too appear in no hurry to bring back staff to offices since bulk of the field teams, typically, folks involved in operations & maintenance (O&M) have been on the field throughout the lockdowns. “The situation is very fluid, and we will strike a balance between employee safety and business needs before deploying more staff in offices,” a top executive of a leading telecom tower company told ET.

This, he said, is since the tower company’s O&M teams involved in site acquisitions or in overseeing landlord relationships to support tower network expansion activity are already on the field.

Network vendors, in turn, are closely monitoring the spread of coronavirus in India and signalled that any decision to bring back more teams in non-critical functions to offices would happen only if the number of Covid19 recoveries is sharply higher than the number of people contracting the infection.

An Ericsson India spokesperson said the Swedish gear maker is “closely monitoring the Covid19 situation in India, and is yet to take any decision on opening up its offices as employee safety is of paramount importance”. Its Pune factory though is operational with requisite staff for meeting local and export commitments, while its network engineers and field staff continue to ensure telco networks run smoothly and connectivity is uninterrupted to customers.

At press time Vodafone Idea, Reliance Jio, ATC and Nokia did not reply to ET’s queries.

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