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Large Startups' Leadership Teams Reach Office First To Alleviate Staff Fear

India's large startups, including Flipkart, Paytm, Udaan, Oyo and Zomato, leadership teams are back at work, in a bid to assure their workforce of health and safety measures before asking them to return.

India's large startups, including Flipkart, Paytm, Udaan, Oyo and Zomato, leadership teams are back at work, in a bid to assure their workforce of health and safety measures before asking them to return.

Although the government has given its consent for office travel, most startups have still allowed employees to continue working from home, for roles that may not require them to commute to offices, "...depending on where the offices are situated, wherever possible, our senior leadership has taken the decision of coming to the office first, to instil confidence in our workforce that all necessary steps are being taken to safeguard employees," a Paytm spokesperson said. Only 25% of Paytm's workforce are working out of offices even when guidelines have permitted  33%.

E-commerce companies Flipkart, Udaan and Zomato have also adopted a similar policy. "We encourage employees to apply their own judgement on when and how they would like to return to the office... A significant number of employees resumed work over the last couple of weeks," said SujeKumar, cofounder of Udaan, a Bengaluru-based B2B  e-commerce firm.

Fear to commute to places and exposing the risk of the virus has let employees highlight several concerns around returning to work, including travel restrictions, reluctance to risk the health of their family, especially in cases where they have aged parents and young children. In some instances, they are in hometowns and unable to return. "The fear is not just about the workplace but also getting to work, and other factors at play," said an employee at a Delhi-based online retailer.

Businesses, however, are trying to address and take out solutions to these concerns. Udaan, for instance, has tied up with car and bike rental firms such as Zoomcar and Bounce to provide sanitised vehicles for employees who do not own personal transport. Others, like ride-hailing app Ola, have communicated to employees about safety measures. These include sanitising workspaces six times a day, safety teams for each site and demarcated seating to enable social distancing. 


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startups COVID-19 offices work force workplaces employees

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