work-from-home

Tech majors extend work-from-home to keep pandemic at bay

by | Aug 24, 2020 | Analysis, Productivity, UC & C

Salesforce has joined a growing list of tech majors who have announced extended work-from-home policies for their employees.
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Cloud software major Salesforce has joined the list of companies who’ve extended their work-from-home policies. Salesforce has announced an extension until July 31, 2021. Top technology companies such as Google and Facebook have already extended their work-from-home policies for employees till mid-2021. Other tech majors, such as Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft, have announced remote working until January 2021.

“Over the past few months, we have been working diligently to support our employees as they navigate this difficult time. The safety of our employees and communities remains paramount. And while we continue to work on plans to re-open our offices safely, the timing of when we bring employees back will be unique to each office — and we will continue to make those decisions in a way that’s consistent with local government guidelines and the advice of our medical experts and local leadership team,” said Brent Hyder, Chief People Officer of Salesforce in the company’s blog.

The San Francisco headquartered tech-major has also announced to give an additional $250 financial support to each of its employees for buying office supplies. The company had provided similar assistance to its employees earlier this year as well. Earlier this month, consulting major EY had also announced similar financial support of US$200 to each of its employees.

Besides, Salesforce employees who are parents will be entitled to take six additional weeks of paid leave. “In all situations where schools have been closed, and students are learning remotely, parents and guardians will be allowed to work from home, even if that date extends beyond our offices re-opening,” Hyder added.

The last six months have been challenging for a majority of companies and leaders. The uncertainty brought in by the COVID-19 pandemic has made it extremely hard for both employees and employers to focus on work solely. People are dealing with issues such as social distancing, remote working, job-loss, elderly care, and ambiguity around almost everything.

As such, enterprises are finding several ways to motivate their talent and prevent burnout. Financial assistance, work-flexibility, and paid leave are some of the measures that companies are offering to support and attract employees.

The new normal is here to stay

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of the companies would offer work-from-home to a very particular set of people on a rotational basis. At that time, In India, the remote-working model was mostly viewed as pointless, with much suspicion from employers. Companies were reluctant to experiment, and employees too were not attuned to an entirely virtual work-environment. However, things changed in a short time. The pandemic has suddenly pushed people to transform their behaviors and compelled them to adopt the new normal quickly.

See also Work-from-home even after Covid-19?

Most of the enterprises and employees have successfully navigated this transition and are looking forward to remote ways of working even after the pandemic subsides. For employers, the new normal is a significant opportunity to save substantial real-estate costs and translate the cost benefits to their employees. For employees, it’s a way to be more productive by reducing travel time while staying connected with their families.

According to a recent study, Technology and the Evolving World of Work by Lenovo, the majority of those surveyed (72 percent) confirmed a shift in their daily work dynamic in the last three months. Employees feel more connected and more productive than ever before as they work from home, but the data shows financial, physical, and emotional downsides for the global workforce.

There is no doubt that the experience of the physical work environment is vital to develop strong teaming and diverse skillsets and hence cannot be completely evaded. To balance that, companies could be mulling to rotate days or weeks of in-office presence for their employees in future, especially in the services sectors.

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Karnataka tops rooftop solar ranking index

Karnataka tops rooftop solar ranking index

RK Singh, Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy (IC) and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, launched the State Rooftop Solar Attractiveness Index (SARAL) in New Delhi yesterday. The State of Karnataka has been placed at the first rank in the Index that evaluates Indian states based on their attractiveness for rooftop development. Telangana, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh have got 2nd, 3rd, and 4th ranks, respectively.

Launching the Index, RK Singh said that it would incentivize rooftop solar by creating healthy competition among the states. He encouraged all states to adopt the best practices being followed by top ranking states.

SARAL has been designed collaboratively by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation (SSEF), Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), and Ernst & Young (EY). It was launched during the Review Planning and Monitoring (RPM) Meeting with states and state power utilities. SARAL currently captures five key aspects:

  1. Robustness of policy framework
  2. Implementation environment
  3. Investment climate
  4. Consumer experience
  5. Business ecosystem

It encourages each state to assess the initiatives taken so far, and what it can do to improve its solar rooftop ecosystem. This will help states to channelize investments that can eventually help the sector grow. In addition, such an exercise is likely to create a more conducive environment for solar rooftop installations, encourage investment and lead to accelerated growth of the sector.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has set a target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, of which 100 GW solar power is to be operational by March 2022, of which 40 GW is expected to come from grid connected solar rooftops. The Indian Grid Connected Rooftop PV (GRPV) segment is slowly gaining momentum with substantial interest from entrepreneurs, developers, financial institutions, development banks, end users and government entities. On a very positive note, rooftop solar PV has already achieved grid parity for commercial and industrial consumers and is fast becoming attractive for residential consumers as well.

To achieve our rooftop solar targets, it is important to develop an ecosystem that ensures information symmetry, access to financing and clear market signals. Thus, the MNRE has developed the State Rooftop Solar Attractiveness Index–SARAL that evaluates Indian states based on their attractiveness for rooftop development. SARAL is the first of its kind index to provide a comprehensive overview of state-level measures adopted to facilitate rooftop solar deployment.

Review, Planning & Monitoring Meeting held
Power Minister RK Singh chaired the Review Planning and Monitoring (RPM) Meeting with states and state power utilities. In his address to the state representatives, he emphasized the need to make power sector sustainable and viable so as to ensure 24/7 power supply to all consumers. The meeting discussed various schemes and issues pertaining to the sector such as Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), Integrated Power Distribution Scheme (IPDS), UDAY, 24/7 power supply, etc, said the PIB release.

The meeting was attended by the Secretary, Power, Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary, MNRE, Anand Kumar, Special Secretary, Power, Sanjiv Nandan Sahai, Senior officers of the Ministry of Power & MNRE, Principal Secretaries/Secretaries (Energy) of States, CMDs & MDs of Discoms and Power Sector PSUs.

 

Drive to eliminate single use plastic gathers pace

Drive to eliminate single use plastic gathers pace

A day after Lok Sabha Secretariat said it has banned the use of single-use plastic within the Parliament complex, Ministry of Railways has already issued a circular to ban single-use plastics, while Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying under Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying, has also initiated steps in the direction.

Ministry of Railways issues a circular
Ministry of Railways has directed all Railway units to enforce ban on single use plastic material, with less than 50 micron thickness from 2 October 2019. Emphasis is on making necessary arrangements to minimize generation of plastic waste and its eco- friendly disposal.

In this regard, the Ministry has issued a circular stating the following instructions are to be enforced:

  • Ban on single use plastic material
  • All railway vendors to avoid use of plastic carry bags
  • Staff should reduce, reuse and refuse plastic products and to use inexpensive reusable bags to reduce plastic footprint.
  • IRCTC to implement return of plastic drinking water bottles as part of Extended Producer Responsibility.
  • Plastic Bottle crushing machines to be provided expeditiously.

Strict enforcement of these instructions is to be from 2 October, to give enough time to all concerned to prepare for “Plastic Free Railway,” said a release from the Ministry.

Ministry of Railways has also instructed its Railway units that a pledge can be administered on 2 October 2019 to cut use of plastics. Also, Information, Education & Communication (IEC) measures are to be adapted to create awareness among railway users.

Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying’s move
The Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying has requested Major Dairy Federations like Gujarat Milk Federation (Amul), Karnataka Milk Federation (Nandini), Punjab Milk Federation (Verka), Maharashtra Milk Federation (Mahanand) to encourage reuse of plastic milk pouches, in a campaign mode, with 3R strategy – Reduce, Rebate and Reuse. i.e. REDUCE consumption of plastics by subsidizing price of 1 litre pack over ½ litre pack, REBATE to customers for bringing back plastics, REUSE of pouches for users such as Road construction, recyclers.

Secretary, Animal Husbandry and Dairying has requested all Cooperative Milk Federations and Private Dairies to at least halve plastic use by 2 October.  Media was requested to start a campaign like Swachcha Bharat to discourage plastics and thereby improve environment.

AMUL and Mother Dairy were requested to formulate action plan/protocol to recycle milk pouches and share with Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying for circulation to other Milk Federations for implementation.

NPC holds meet on sustainable food safety

NPC holds meet on sustainable food safety

A two-day National Conference on Capacity Building of Sustainable Food Value Chains for Enhanced Food Safety and Quality organized by National Productivity Council (NPC) in collaboration with Asian Productivity Organization, Tokyo, Japan began in New Delhi today. The Conference was inaugurated by Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce & Industry and Chairman of NPC, Dr. Guruprasad Mohapatra. In his inaugural address, Dr. Mohapatra highlighted the relevance of sustainable food value chains and the international standards enacted through the Food Safety and Security Act, 2006. He also acknowledged the demand for food safety assurances leading to proliferation of food safety and quality assurance programs, a PIB release said.

Director General, NPC, Arun Kumar Jha, in his address, emphasized on the importance and potential of food processing industry. Chairperson, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Rita Teaotia, in her keynote address said that there is a need to develop the mitigation strategies for curbing food wastages, enhancing food security and food quality.

Dr. Manickam Asaithambi, Asian Productivity Organization, Japan, lauded the efforts of NPC to organize this program on sustainable food value chains which is an international phenomenon. Dr. Manickam Asaithambi expressed hope that the outcomes of the conference will lead to developing sustainable strategies for food safety in India. Technical sessions on various aspects of food value chains, food safety and quality will be conducted during the conference which will conclude tomorrow.

Environment min opens draft NREP for comments

Environment min opens draft NREP for comments

Natural resources form the backbone of any economic development. India, as one of the fastest growing economies with GDP at 2.6 trillion USD, has increased its material consumption to six times, from 1.18 billion tonnes (BT) in 1970 to 7 BT in 2015. The material consumption is expected to increase further to provide for an increasing population, rapid urbanization and growing aspirations. Enhancing resource efficiency and promoting the use of secondary raw materials has emerged as a strategy for ensuring that the potential trade-off between growth, resource constraints and environmental well-being can be minimized.

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change released Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy, 2019 on 25 July 2019 inviting comments and suggestions from stakeholders including public/private organizations, experts and concerned citizens on the draft policy.

The Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy (NREP) envisions a future with environmentally sustainable and equitable economic growth, resource security, healthy environment (air, water and land), and restored ecosystems with rich ecology and biodiversity. The Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy is guided by the principles of (i) reduction in primary resource consumption to ‘sustainable’ levels, in keeping with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and staying within the planetary boundaries, (ii) creation of higher value with less material through resource efficient and circular approaches, (iii) waste minimization, (iv) material security, and creation of employment opportunities and business models beneficial to the cause of environment protection and restoration.

The Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy provides an overarching collaborative framework for resource efficiency across all sectors in the country, covering both biotic and abiotic resources and life cycle stages and aspires for cross-sectoral stakeholder partnerships for the cause of resource efficiency for sustainable development.

The Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy (NREP) is available online on Ministry’s website at http://moef.gov.in/draft-national-resource-efficiency-policy2019-inviting-comments-and-suggestions-of-stakeholders-including-publicprivate-organization-experts-and-concerned-citizens/.

Comments and suggestions in prescribed format will be accepted till 24 August 2019.

MoHUA workshop lays focus on tech usage

MoHUA workshop lays focus on tech usage

Dr. Thawar Chand Gehlot, Union Minister, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJ&E) has stated that the Government is fully committed to eradicate manual scavenging through the ‘The Prevention of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.’ He was speaking at the national Workshop Cum Exhibition on Sustainable Sanitation organized by MoSJ&E and the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) in Delhi today.

Through a series of panel discussions through the day, the workshop saw discussions and presentation of best practices on topics such as Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) based biomethanation under Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) initiative of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoP&NG), MSW to Bio-CNG through biomethanation and cotreatment of organic fraction of MSW with sludge.

The national workshop aimed at providing a comprehensive roadmap for ensuring sustainable sanitation in urban areas. (Image tweeted by @HardeepSPuri)

The day long interaction among stakeholders is aimed at providing a comprehensive roadmap for ensuring sustainable sanitation in urban areas. States and ULBs will take these insights into their respective areas to further strengthen their strategy for achieving safe, sustainable and holistic sanitation.

Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State (I/C) for Housing & Urban Affairs, Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, MohUA, Nilam Sawhney, Secretary, MoSJ&E and more than 500 representatives including the Principal Secretaries (UD), Mission Directors of AMRUT & Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U) in States/Union Territories, Municipal Commissioners of 500 cities with population of 1 lakh and above and development partners besides senior official from both the ministries attended the workshop.

Gehlot added that the Government has been laying increasing emphasis on mechanical cleaning and preventing human entry into sewer and septic tanks to the extent possible through the use of modern technologies. Further, he said, “Through the National Safai Karmacharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC) formal integration of these workers is being done through the disbursement of grants, provision of loans and livelihood training programs. I am happy to see that this workshop cum exhibition today will showcase the varied measures, best practices and technologies available that will go a long way in preventing fatalities due to hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks. Swachh Bharat is indeed the first step towards Swasth Bharat.”

Addressing the gathering Puri said, “Our Ministry has consistently made efforts to devise efficient systems, processes and technologies for mechanical cleaning of sewer and septic tanks. The Ministry has undertaken various initiatives to eliminate human entry into septic tanks and sewers and create an ecosystem for sustainable sanitation – the publication of documents such as the CPHEEO Manual on Sewerage and Sewage Treatment Systems (2013) and Standard Operating Procedures for Cleaning of Sewers and Septic Tanks (2018) or organizing of the Global Technology Challenge, being some of them. The workshop today will be another step in this direction. The launch of the guidance document on “Emergency Response Sanitation Unit (ERSU) will go a long way in preventing fatalities of sanitation workers and guarantee their safety and well-being.”

He further added, “The Manual on Stormwater Drainage Systems, 2019 released today, shall add a feather to the recently launched Jal Shakti Abhiyan by the Government and help cities and towns in water conservation, protection from flooding and water security. The Ministry is fully committed to support the endeavors of States & Urban Local Bodies as they progress towards total sanitation or Sampoorna Swachhata.”

Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, MoHUA said, “While the Directory of Sewer & Septage Cleaning Equipment launched today will be a guiding book for Urban Local Bodies as well as practitioners, the exhibition by prominent manufacturers and vendors showcasing emerging technologies, equipment and best practices on sewer and septic tank management will help provide customized solutions to city specific requirements in this area.”

Bhutan’s message vital for sustainability: Modi

Bhutan’s message vital for sustainability: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the world has much to learn from Bhutan, when it comes to achieving progress through sustainable development.

In any part of the world, if we ask the question what do you associate with Bhutan, the answer will be the concept of Gross National Happiness. I am not surprised. Bhutan has understood the essence of happiness. Bhutan has understood the spirit of harmony, togetherness and compassion. This very spirit radiates from the adorable children who lined the streets to welcome me yesterday. I will always remember their smiles.

Modi noted that Swami Vivekananda had said, “Every nation has a message to deliver, a mission to fulfill, a destiny to reach.” Bhutan’s message to humanity is happiness. Happiness which springs from harmony. The world can do with a lot more happiness. Happiness, which shall prevail over mindless hate. If people are happy, there will be harmony, where there is harmony, there will be peace. And it is peace that will help societies achieve progress through sustainable development. In a time where development is often seen in conflict with traditions and the environment, the world has much to learn from Bhutan. Here, development, environment and culture are not at loggerheads but are in synergy. With the creativity, energy and commitment of our youth, our nations can achieve all that is required for a sustainable future – whether it is water conservation or sustainable agriculture or making our societies free of single-use plastic, he said.

(News source: PIB)

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