New Delhi, Aug. 11 -- Making a phone call had never fazed Santosh Kumar Bandari. But as the technical recruiter picked up the phone one mid-April day, he felt a tiny frisson of apprehension. It was the first time the 27-year-old was making a sales call to a prospective client. Since work in recruitment has dried up in the last six months, Bandari has started working in sales as well. In the two months he's spent in sales, he has closed "a decent-sized deal" for his company Sonik Consulting.

A number of companies and startups dealing with a slowdown in business due to covid-19 are retraining staff to work in other roles to avoid layoffs and furloughs. In some cases, a shift to working from home has left employees in specialized roles with...