Prabhakar’s phone flashed a message: “Yes, you can.” His boss had just greenlighted his visit to the office complex on Chennai’s IT Highway. Prabhakar and two team members could now directly use the office system to run their checks on the latest project. “In the past, we used to message our bosses when we wanted a day off. These days, we seek their okay to attend office,” Prabhakar says, as he describes what COVID-19 has done to the work culture in software’s deadline-driven sector. He is not alone, as thousands of employees begin to trickle into the city’s IT campuses, and step out of their work-from-home cocoons.
The chartered buses and pickup cabs that picked up and dropped off the coders and project developers each day are a distant memory. Now, the occasional bus drops off the few who are drafted for office work. “Nearly 12,000 used to stream in every morning into our three complexes. Hardly 1,500 clock in these days. For those used to the bustle of a huge functional office, being part of a small skeletal force was initially daunting,” recalls a Wipro employee.