What seemed to exist in the realm of fiction has now become a part of our day to day life. No one could have imagined a microscopic organism would have the power to imprison us in our homes. A global pandemic that has disrupted “the normal,” which we have been used to.
As the country began feeling the impact of COVID-19 and the possibility of a lockdown began looming, at DIABOS, we began enforcing our Business Continuity Plan (BCP), which was not adequately defined for such a disruption. And like everyone else, we too were unprepared. We soon realized there was no playbook, plan, or rehearsal for what was happening; we had to watch and act. At Diabos, we are a perseverant and resilient bunch; rather than play helpless victims, we decided to assess the situation and reset and restart.
We realized that business flexibility and agility were required to help us respond effectively to this global pandemic and keep operations at Diabos up and running 24x7 despite the impediments faced. The following table helped us identify the next steps.
|Operational Considerations||Traditional Scenario||COVID -19 on-ground situation|
|Impact on productivity||Immediate Responses to be undertaken|
|Localized Workforce||Working together in the same location, or via email/phone||High||Move to a distributed workforce model.|
|Processes||Human-centric not optimized for automation||Medium||Accelerated standardization of the platform services.|
|Employees||Social & emotional well being||High||Regular touch base meetings on collaboration tools|
|Working in close proximity at a single location with all the requisite infrastructure to perform the task||High||High levels of remote working under virtual supervision|
|Technology||Fragmented systems using desktops, printers, scanners||High||Upgrade the home internet of all employees. Deploy collaboration tools like WebEx, Google Meet, Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams Deployment of secure endpoints to access technology remotely|
- Our Initial Response
- Avoiding panic by communicating clearly with each employee the action plan and expectations.
- Ensuring safety of the employees by enforcing work from home before the official lockdown was declared.
- Creating a support group where users could raise their issues and get a solution from the IT support team
- Allocate operating systems from the office and installing them at the employee residence.
- Sending our clear communications to all external stakeholders and service partners to set the context and expectations
- Making logistical arrangements in terms of hardware and connectivity (internet and phone).
- Ensuring data privacy with all members working from home and outside the office network.
- We also conducted an online survey during the lockdown to find out and address the challenges of working from home.
- Challenges we faced
- Inability to interact in person with team members.
- IT issues due to hardware or network as we were deploying solutions in non-traditional physical workplace (home)
- Striking work-life balance
- Maintaining the morale of the team.
- Ensuring we meet the level of service provided to customer pre-lockdown.
- Initial concerns around the security of data and potential impact on productivity, either due to infrastructure quality or due to the lack of supervision, primarily for new hires
- How we overcame the challenges
We assessed the systems and procedures that could continue as usual and the ones that would need tweaking to align with the new situation
The key areas identified were :
- 1. Each team had a daily meeting with all the members using one of the collaboration platforms to discuss the plan of action for the day as well any personal issues the members were facing
- 2. Ensuring teams were motivated and continued to deliver a high level of service expected by the customer.
- 3. Allowing members to travel back to their native places where they could be with their close family thus ensuring they felt safe.
- 4. Regular training of the new and junior members of the teams to ensure continued learning and upskilling.
System based innovations
- 1. We developed and launched 27 new features on to the DIABOS platform which has led to process improvements, productivity gain, enhanced customer satisfaction and a more excellent user experience.
- 2. We have embarked on a modernization drive for our technology infrastructure and will be rolling out new products, upgrades, and feature releases at regular intervals.
Lessons we learned
- 1. Remote working is possible without affecting productivity.
- 2. We can perform our tasks digitally and do not need physical printing and storing of paper.
- 3. We need to look deeper into our employee welfare.
- 4. We need to invest in infrastructure and resources for a smoother and effective WFH environment.
- 5. Remote training and onboarding though have inherent challenges, are still very much effective.
- 6. Supporting our customers during these arduous times further strengthened the professional bond
- 7. Remote working is the new reality in this ‘new normal’ which may last for an extended period in time. Being cognizant of the fact we are continually evaluating more modern technology solutions and carrying out R&D to improve our offering.
- 8. We will need to develop business continuity solutions for scenarios such as global shutdowns, prolonged disruption, sudden volume spikes/reductions, and non-traditional physical workplaces (e.g., homes).
- 9. One of the thing that seems inevitable at this stage is a shift in focus from “Work-Life balance” to “Work-Life Integration” for employees.
As the pandemic unfolds, we will continue to find pragmatic and innovative solutions to support all our stakeholders in their hour of need. Staying true to our values of trust, honesty, humility, innovation & perseverance, we will continue to reshape and recalibrate the way we live, work, and communicate. No matter how the cookie crumbles, we have to refocus, refresh, restart, be resilient and imbibe empathy in our actions. After all, Social distancing has taught us the value of being a unified community.