The unpredictable times are notorious to bring an indirect plunge across the industries out of the blue. The recent hit of COVID-19 adds to the list of another classic anecdote. Undoubtedly the unprecedented impact of this lockdown has given existence to numerous risks involved in the business and certain sectors of the industries, ways to counter which, are yet being ideated and processed by the companies. Amid all this, the HR Department has laid its head-on priority on the safety and security of the employees.
While companies are brainstorming ways to reduce the risks and to minimize the losses, the HR Team is the main hand of almost all the sectors which is expected to be at its toes always, especially during these tougher times. According to the IMF, the global GDP growth estimates have been reduced from earlier predicted 3.3 % to 3.0 %, just in a matter of a quarter. A recently concluded survey comprising the opinion of over 100 HR Heads had narrated the HR outlook to quite an extent.
While 72 % of the representatives acknowledged that the impact will be felt beyond six months, over 70 % believed that the single biggest concern for continued remote working is a fall in productivity. To cope up with the situation at hand, 70 percent of the organizations are now moving to virtual methods. There is no denying that the percentage of the organizations who were well prepared to manage this unknown crisis has been alarmingly low.
Facing the facts clearly, “work from home” is a culture, not completely alien to many companies in India as well as overseas. Over the past decade, many companies and HR recruiters have offered some jobs that have been easily taken up by people, which can be done at the comfort of their homes with flexible working hours, especially for females who wish to maintain a certain work-home balance in their lives and have their families to be taken care of.
The part-time or stay homes jobs have been embedded in the DNA of US work culture for decades. The current Covid-19 situation has been evidently a driving force to bridge the gap between remote working cultures of India and the west to some extent.
Having said that, few of the practical measures to maintain the optimum level of productivity and work-life balance, which HR Team has taken as a Business Partner at TTC, are:
We at TTC, have been working towards digitizing the organizational functions and processes. We have been focusing on partial and full automation of various procedures for almost two years. We have successfully created and implemented various online modules in our internal ERP for supporting various HR functions and Operations with a focus on minimizing the manual efforts or as we say the need for physical presence.
HR has been closely working with the inhouse competitive IT support team to evaluate the new technology trends that can be inculcated to strengthen the IT Infrastructure. We have been able to create an ever-ready system to facilitate the users with uninterrupted secure access and timely remote support.
All the communication work including the team meetings, work delegation, supervision of work, review meetings, final work submissions have fully transitioned to online platforms at drop of the hat. Our bid to go online was well supported by multiple digital services, G-Suite Platform, and apps. More than ever, now Google Hangout Meets have successfully replaced the face to face meetings among all employees and teams. Introducing such platforms to the workforce has helped the organization to leverage the best of technology and collaboration, ensuring we have an agile workforce.
The result is a Win-Win, with employee connect and harmony within the organization being at par level vis-à-vis pre-COVID times. We have also been witnessing an upward trend in efficiency numbers and resource utilization with the progressing time.
Crisis may or may not come with bells and whistles. Reacting to the prevalent challenges many companies are focused on managing a remote workforce, building work alignment, and work control through a structured work allocation and communication protocol. It is the onus of the decision-makers to be in pursuit of constant improvement, lead by example, and change for good.
The existing system shall be periodically assessed to be stable and functioning at the desired level for contingency times. However, when the crisis hits, it may not be the right time to turn around the existing functional setup upside down. It is over expecting to hope the sudden impulsive changes would run all previous systems and processes with zero downtime.
TTC has been ahead of the tide in including and implementing various online platforms to support remote work from home well before the ongoing COVID crisis hit the global workforce. We could leverage the cloud services as we had done the groundwork w.r.t tools, systems, configurations to securely handle the e-mails, documents, data, and most of the organizational processes digitally and remotely. A sound and stable remote work setup for the entire organization is the result of constant iterations towards success.
Henceforth, special importance has been put to sustaining productivity in the context of remote working, building cost management options, and manpower optimization in the short term. It is not realistic to assume that we can maintain pre-pandemic levels of productivity from day one of remote work.
Instead, focusing on keeping everyone safe and healthy while maintaining optimum productivity level to start with, is relatively a wiser expectation. As we get used to the new normal, the key metrics of performance would build over time. This has helped us, at TTC, to work with a positive and an open-mind, so as to constantly up the game and provide the best and high-quality services to our customers, while all employees have been working from the comfort and safety of their home. Ensuring the wellbeing of employees is critical for sustained remote working and healthy engagement in the long run.
The core value of a successful HR in any organization is laid on the grounds claiming people being the invaluable asset of the organization. Visibly, more than ever, apart from organizing formal meetings through Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom etc., it is equally important to organize informal Google hangout meets- video or audio conference calls, such as a simple “chai break”.
The lockdown resulted in a diverse workforce being restricted to confined spaces. Even though it was home sweet home for quite a few, however to unwind the monotony arising out of confined spaces, the online counseling sessions, and relaxation sessions, have become the need of the hour to ensure the emotional well-being of the workforce. In changing times like these, it is an essential part of the work culture, to keep the employees engaged in various activities for breaking the monotony and bringing freshness amidst the staff.
Employees, being the core of the organization –their emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing are of utmost importance during these times to the HR. HRs across different industries have come up with novel ideas to engage and motivate the employees like – online meditation, yoga classes, physiological counseling dedicated to “work from home” hours for the employees and doctors on a call.
Much on the similar lines, we at TTC have organized various activities for our employees, including ‘Virtual Reward and Recognition Ceremony’, ‘The IP Quiz Contest’ and ‘The Musical Evening’ with live performances from the in-house talent in Solo Singing, Duets, Instrumental and Open Mike Poetry category. Indeed, the enthusiasm of participants and the audience replenished the energy levels to the brim.
Many states are asking employers to allow and extend telework as much as possible and, in some instances, are recommending businesses to pay the full wages while maintaining the existing number of employees.
An inclusive organization is always mindful that telework policies must not have a negative or disparate impact on any group of employees, be it legally protected or not. Policies shall be uniform across levels, workgroups, ethnicity, gender, etc. without any scope of discrimination unless privileges are entitled in accordance with the law. It is ethically the right thing to do. The important by-product would be that it eliminates an organization’s exposure to a discrimination claim drastically. We, at TTC, believe in a comprehensive approach to equality, that makes our workplace a fair one and our employees a force to reckon with.
While quite a few SMEs are struggling with keeping up the existing workforce, even in times like these, we are carving out avenues of growth for our employees. We have been working with some premier colleges of North India to extend Summer Internships to the students who lost out on the opportunities elsewhere due to the COVID crisis.
Our T & D program is going at a better pace with quite a few new inclusions. The only deviation has been that the meeting rooms have been replaced by online training sessions. We have done quite a few pieces of training to make our staff savvy with all the tools to execute their tasks. We have also identified a few additional training sessions for our female staff, which may tap their creative potential, help them cross-skill, and improve their working efficiency. This, in turn, would help our female employees upskill to climb up the career ladder in the longer run.
These testing times are an enriching opportunity when the organisation, its people come together, share empathy, learn and succeed together with flying colors. We, at TTC believe equally in the wellbeing of the employees as we do in the quality deliverables to our clients.
TTC, being a premier organization in the Intellectual Property Industry and serving Innovators across the globe, has incorporated the work from home culture in such a seamless way that, it’s been beneficial not only to our business, but to our staff as well. The recent internal employee survey supported the fact the employees have been responding positively to the efforts done by the HR, the flexibility offered by Work from Home, while not only maintaining but surpassing the earlier set standards of work.
In essence, increasing the productivity and efficiency of the workforce would always be on top of the wish list of any organisation. We do recommend HR to ensure equal emphasis is on cherishing the org culture. The real value proposition is not all about cost management but also about better decision making. Do not just cut corners, try to look around the corner. As they say, The Balance is the Key to Sustenance and Success.