Positivity in the times of crisis
Today the situation due to Corona Virus in the country has hit the roof. There is so much stress and anxiety, and now the Government mulling a complete lockdown as people are not adhering to social – distancing, which is the need of the hour.
In this situation, all of us are working from home, and we Indians are not used to this scenario. But we have coped well, MediaNews4U spoke to Leaders in various sectors on how they are motivating their teams in dealing with this crisis.
Shamsuddin Jasani – Group MD, Isobar South Asia.
Just going back a little we announced a year back that we could work from home for 2 days in a month. Anybody could take the offer to work from home so we have always encouraged work from home but not at this scale.
When this started about 10 days back as we have a lot of creative work, we decided to transport all the machines to the individuals to their homes. We needed to make sure with all the precautions and all the data on the VPN only and they are only on our servers. That was all taken care of so work would not suffer. We actually empowered our leaders. We have about 200 people working in Isobar, we got top six leaders who are in charge of these 200 people. I speak to them now twice a week, in fact, I speak to them more often now than I used to speak when we were working in the physical environment. It is about taking responsibility, we always thought that work from home is not an Indian thing and from a cultural perspective Indians will not take to it, but at least for us, as work from home has improved productivity quite a bit, it has also improved collaboration, because what is actually happening between a lot of us is that we are talking a lot more than earlier. There’s no Delhi- Bombay – Bangalore physical infrastructure as such, which is preventing you from saying, I have these executives in Delhi, the person in Delhi will always get the work done because he or she is physically there, but now what is happening is that we are actually talking much more, and actually on it. First of all, people are not wasting two and a half hours traveling, which is of course, is a big thing. Right now the enthusiasm is very high, the experience has been that people are working hard and, we are ensuring that the responsibilities of the senior team members to be able to work with their teams to deliver it. The other thing is the collaboration is extremely high amongst team members as we’ve seen in the last 10 – 12 days. We are not using any tools, not using any technology. We already have everything built into our system, we use Microsoft Teams, call whenever we want, that is a part of our infrastructure for years. We are now utilizing that much more.
Our clients are understanding what the situation is, they are also interacting a lot more. A lot of my meetings are now taking over via PCs and calls which earlier used to be travel. There will be some people who will take advantage of it, that percentage is extremely low and people are right now very concerned and everyone knows that this is a difficult situation, any which way business is going to suffer, but this is an unforeseen incident. It’s never happened before, not only in India but globally. The business is going to be bad for the next three to four months. Also recognizing that fact, understanding that fact, buckling down and working doubly hard to ensure that, things are working at a much faster pace. I think it’s working well, as of now.
If the government opens I would still want it to settle and that will be our call closer to time. If everything is running better then we will take a call on that. I have a feeling that it’s going to be closer to the middle of April, for the situation to come back to some sort of normalcy, I believe it will not be normal but some sort of normalcy. In the initial week or so our people will work from home.
At this point of time, we are not seeing any effects but there are some effects like for example, our video production team can’t do any video production now as it has come to a standstill. We are shifting our focus and speaking to our clients to use this lull period to build their assets, to build their back end technologies, also to build on their social media activities.
But the concentration on making sure that your owned and earned assets are really at the forefront and the best, that’s something that we are working on. While marketing can wait, because again, it will come back, monies will come back from a spend perspective, this is the right time to maybe change platforms to look at the future and say, I need to work on these technologies, need to have a better app, need to have a better experience for my clients. Let us just take a breather. What we’re working with clients now, is to work on those parts of the business rather than just pure marketing part of the business, which right now of course, for clients it has slowed down because the business is not happening. Some of our clients are handset manufacturers, they’re running out of handsets because China shut down for about a month, as the business is going to get affected but that doesn’t mean that you just stay where you are, you need to be able to utilize this as an opportunity to build infrastructure and digital infrastructure and there are a lot of clients who are now looking at their own e-commerce system. They were to looking at a year down the line to launch but now it is a good time to really work on that and bring that up much more quickly, to release their own e-commerce platforms because people even if they’re at home, they do want things at home.
Absolutely this is what I was saying that this is the right time to develop your assets, like four years back you had people developing apps, now is the time for you to go and develop your Voice assets that are there. This is a good time to take a breather, develop all the voice access and go back to you know where you are.
Anyway, I think from a work from a home perspective, right now it is working, let’s keep an eye on what’s happening. But I think it also gives us a good feeling for the future in terms of saying that people are trustworthy enough that they will work from home, we should be a little open-minded as well, as cities are getting more and more disciplined, traveling and productivity is reducing, I think we should find better ways for people to do better productive work, and the office culture is to promote work from home and I think it will only help. It is just that the infrastructure at home is not very conducive for many, that’s something that needs to be looked into. If you are, allowing work from home you also need to make sure that the people have the right infrastructure at home, deliver whatever is required and that is very important.
Then some businesses of course, will not be able to support, work from home like video production unless you’re doing animated films.
Let us hope for the best, stay home and stay safe.
Khushboo Solanki Sharma, Founder of Zero Gravity Communications
This isn’t the first time we had to urgently plan to shift our working base. The difference this time is we are double in headcount compare to last time, and that wasn’t a global crisis. So, I had prior experience with crisis management. The first rule for any crisis management is to be calm yourself. If you get in a panic, you can’t help, guide, or navigate others. And times like this, it isn’t easy to not panic, the first thing I did was to clear my head and wrote a blog to reassure myself, which I made my team read.
One hysteric or worried employee will make ten other to join the fear, so we made the mentally weak and highest risk of exposure employees home first. There were team members whose family or friends had traveled recently, and our employees met them, so we sent them home packing with a laptop and making sure they have functional connectivity.
We prepare ourselves for the possibility of work from home before we couldn’t control, and it got into lockdown. Amongst this all, we had a huge pitch coming this Monday which our team of 12 had been working over and above regular work for a week. We made sure we were still on with the pitch over video conference. This helps people focus and look forward to the biggest task on hand.
We purchased our first paid subscription to Zoom App to make sure our Account Management team takes the necessary weekly call and revised strategy of communication in the coming month with their respective clients.
The biggest challenge this pandemic put on global businesses now on their toes they have to reimagine how they look at their business, how do they communicate, how do they practice safer practices. Nobody had planned or prepared their organization globally for this. The only way to come out of catastrophe Darwin will be true again, “it is going to be survival of fittest”. Just the difference is fittest here, one who is agile to adapt, unlearn, relearn, and be conscious.
Keeping this essence in the center, I am making sure I communicate with my clients, my employees more closely, more regularly than before. Work with them, help them, and their business comes out of the challenges they face. By doing that, we will survive.
Listen and talk to your team as much as you can. Address their fear, communicate honestly, where you don’t know the answer, but show them you have intent. You have the intent to fight this with them and are ready to put people before business. If need be to address the smallest thing, which might be the biggest worry they have. Like one of our creative lead did up-down between cities daily, but now that seems like a dangerous idea for him, his family, and to the whole company. As the first step, we sat and talked out why and how this shouldn’t be done because Gujarat wasn’t so much of concern till last week. There was another such case where our office driver was adamant of attending Friday prayer to which we didn’t stop, but we asked him to practice isolation for two weeks post prayer if he attends.
Pandemic didn’t see age, caste, or position, so everyone at the team was treated equally with the equal threat they carried to exposure and further infecting others. Educate – talk – explain – address and eventually send them home. Currently, we have our data plan at their max capacity. Daily login and out are on skype. Tasks are allocated on the google sheet. There are video calls for briefing and follow-ups.
#theideapeople keep the spirits alive with their time, ‘chai alive’ with homemade tea photo and group video calls with their daily dose of jokes.
On the lighter side, it is readjusting time as a working parent I haven’t spent so much time with my girls as I am getting to spend now. So it is strange, but I am readjusting to how to spend the whole day around kids, a home without help, and still manage to attend my business needs. Fun is they are in the background of my video calls, and they are part of monologue and cursing I do between work. But that is new social if you are determined to fight it and still survive this is new normal.
Last but the least, keep twitter alive and a few WhatsApp group with family and friends who still believe in sending you humor and keeping it alive.
Divya Dixit – SVP – Marketing, Analytics & Direct Revenue at ALTBalaji
The crisis will quickly separate well-managed companies from poorly managed ones — and responsible for indolent. The best way to motivate your team is to ask them “How are they doing personally and managing things and add value to their work, helping them find solutions. Helping them understand and others that in times of crisis while one has to perform, safety is first.”
Naresh Gupta – Co-Founder and Head Intern at The Bang in the Middle
It is very little we can do in these times of crisis. The team’s safety matters as much as a commitment to deliver work to the client. So we have moved to work from home and most people are on remote collaborative work tools. We would want everyone to be safe first. We have told all our clients that we are trying our best to deliver work on time. The teams are completely empowered to take the call on way to work.
Satbir Singh – Founder, Think
To begin with, being home and working on new campaigns is exciting in itself. We have been constantly in touch, talking, messaging and at times do not realize that it’s not an office!
Also, today, everyone is taking pictures of their workplace at home. Seeing some pretty inspiring photos!
Hemant Jain, Sr. EVP and Head of Digital Business, Lokmat Media Pvt Ltd
We have a dual responsibility in these testing times. As a leading and trusted online news and information provider, it is our responsibility to provide trustworthy, bona fide news and updates to our readers, 24/7. At the same time, it is also our responsibility to ensure that our team of dedicated news reporters and writers and artists remains safe. To that end we took action long before any action was mandated. We have created a strong back-end infrastructure for our team to operate seamlessly from homes. From high-speed Broadband Internet connections, to the high functioning hardware infrastructure, online content management systems that is critical to our operations, we have enabled all this for our team members. Realizing that working from home at times can get taxing, we hangout on Google or Zoom sometime mid afternoon for an informal chito-chat just to ease out the stress and create an office like environment. In doing so, we have ensured that we deliver on our commitment to our readers who depend upon us for the latest, real-time updates as well as to our team members whose safety and well-being is paramount to our organization.