Around 4 p.m. on Wednesday, R. Ganesan, was waiting desperately for an auto to slow down near Kasturibai Nagar MRTS station.
“Unlike a lot of people who are going back home, I am going to office. There will be lot of work,” said the employee of a voice-based BPO in Velachery.
With major banks in New York opening yesterday after two days of holidays owing to Hurricane Sandy, and many businesses opening today, BPO employees in Chennai who offer tele-calling services to them faced an avalanche of work on Wednesday, and hence remained open throughout, despite howling winds and rains due to the cyclone here.
“Most of us who cater to banks and retail stores abroad had to work two shifts today,” said Arun Gopinath, a tele-caller with a BPO in Perungudi.
There are nearly 400 BPOs in Chennai that provide services for clients in the United States, including major firms such as Sutherland, Genpact and Allsec among others. “My work normally ends at 7 p.m., but I will have to put in one more shift from 10 p.m. to 8.30 a.m.,” said Arun.
While the bigger BPOs offered pick-up facilities, the smaller ones did not do so. Thus, employees were seen stranded at many railway and bus stations. IT employees, however, could leave by 3 p.m. on Wednesday.
While bigger companies such as Cognizant, TCS, Verizon, HCL ensured that most of the buses in their fleet were plying, the smaller companies failed to do so. The suspension of MRTS services from 3.30 p.m. greatly added to the crowd waiting for buses and autos. “We got mails from our employer stating that all buses will leave between 3.p.m. and 3. 30 p.m.. To make sure everyone leaves, the office server in local offices was kept shut down,” said P.R. Sukanya, who works in Siruseri. In many firms, evening and night shifts were also cancelled.
While offices in Olympia Tech Park, on Rajiv Gandhi Salai and GST road were shut down by 3 p.m., most employees of firms in Tidal Park left by 5 p.m. Additional facilities for recreation in many tech parks were also kept closed.
“Though I left at 3 p.m., I could reach home only by 6 p.m., considering many roads in Alwarpet, Anna Salai and Velacerry were blocked due to falling of trees,” said Deepika Madhusudhan, an employee in Mahindra World City. Bus drivers, attendants and helping staff in IT companies too had a tough time getting food, with most roadside eateries and smaller restaurants having downed shutters.
“Many travel agencies have not sent their vehicles and drivers today, so some of us who drive company vehicles have to make extra trips,” said Mohammed Karim, a driver attached to a company on ECR.