The glass façade of corporate complexes in Mumbai’s business hub, Bandra Kurla Complex bear a vacant look. Restaurants in the vicinity, perfect for those lunch-break getaways, have shut shop. The sun still shines and a mild breeze continues to make its presence felt. But the throngs of people and cars frequenting the business district have disappeared. As have the crowds in Phoenix Market City, a mall located close to BKC.
Elsewhere in India, the scene would not be any different. Because barring a few essential services, most of India is at home, working from home (WFH). For others — essential services as well as malls, restaurants and multiplexes — it won’t be an overstatement to say that the way of doing business has changed forever.
The abrupt switchover has been caused by the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unplanned lockdown across the country, starting March 25. “This situation has caught everyone by surprise. Unless an organisation was already geared for working from home (like IT firms), it is not an easy situation to work under,” acknowledges Vinay Razdan, chief human resources officer at HDFC Bank. Be it technical support, ensuring data security or simply training employees to remain productive, a lot had to be done in limited time to ensure business continuity. At Malls like Delhi’s Select Citywalk, Deepak Zutshi, centre head, says that no one knows what the new normal would be. “It is not clear how consumer behaviour will change,” says Zutshi contemplatively.
You don’t want to be left behind. Do you?
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