Genpact suggests routine testing of staff to help open up the economy

Pune: Routinely testing employees who are working from office will help curb the spread of the coronavirus and open up the economy, Genpact Ltd.’s Chief Operating Officer Darren Saumur said, even as several countries are going into their second or third lockdowns.

The professional services firm first started conducting twice-a-week rapid antigen tests for employees in Canada last year. “We are doing this at all our locations globally, including in India,” Saumur said.

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About 60% of the 3,500 employees who are working from its offices in India voluntarily get themselves tested in this manner, and Genpact is now in talks with other companies to help them adopt this protocol.

“We started doing this in Canada and then the Biden administration heard of this, so now we’re working with them to roll out a Rapid Action Consortium to do this in the US as well,” he said. This method helps in detecting asymptomatic carriers and, over time, the infection rate of people working in office is much lower now as compared to those working at home because everyone is getting tested on a regular basis.

Even as governments continue to roll out vaccination programmes, Saumur believes that frequent testing would be an important step towards normalising things and actually opening up the economy. As Genpact works with its customers on new projects, this is something it is discussing with them as well.

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The pandemic has changed the conversations the company is having around the workforce. “Now it’s about the access to the kind of skills they want and we’re hiring people in cities we’ve never recruited from and telling them that you can continue to stay there and eventually come to office maybe once a week,” Saumur said.

He expects more than 40% of Genpact’s employees to continue working from home permanently in a hybrid model.

From working on business continuity projects in the early days of the pandemic, the focus has now shifted to helping clients accelerate their digital transformation initiatives and the shift to the cloud, he said.

A lot of clients had technology in place before the pandemic which they weren’t using—like a hotel client had apps which customers could use to check in and go right to their room, which it has started using now.

“On the supply-chain side, we found a lot of AI models didn’t work anymore—they are based on data from the past and that’s changed so the prediction wasn’t working anymore so we’ve had to rebuild a lot of those AI models,” he said. For instance, when demand for products like sanitisers went up, the entire supply chain had to be reorganised to meet the new demand.



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